SunPower, KB Home Bring Energy Storage to Solar Suburbs

Southern California suburbs make great petri dishes for SunPower and KB Homes, who have teamed up since 2011 to build thousands of houses with built-in solar panels. Now they’re throwing battery storage into the mix, starting in San Diego, Irvine and El Dorado Hills, in hopes of expanding the solar suburbs and kickstarting the next stage of home solar evolution.

SunPower and KB’s battery pilot program promises to store power obtained during the day for use during the evening, or even blackout and other emergencies.

That resilience is what has propelled solar power to the renewable energy forefront, from houses and cars to communities and microgrids. If SunPower and KB Homes’ longtime partnership is any indication, this is simply a beginning “with the potential for a broader rollout to additional communities next year,” as well as Australia and Germany, SunPower explained.

“With energy storage capability, homeowners with solar power systems and home system monitoring today can control their electricity costs and have the security of knowing they’ll have power during an outage,” SunPower CEO Tom Werner added in the pilot’s press release. “In the near future, battery storage will help homeowners manage energy loads using stored power, including charging electric vehicles at night.”

SunPower and KB’s deal is part of a greater pattern of pairing photovoltaic systems with battery storage. A similar program was launched, withdrawn, then relaunched by SolarCity, which recently bought panel manufacturer Silevo, after America’s leading PV installer found utilities overcharging their customers and throwing up other foolish storage obstacles. But as much as it tries, the utility backlash against battery-stored solar power is predictably petering out. Meaning, environmentally and economically, the sky is the limit as far as the future is concerned.

“The cost of storage is going to come down rather dramatically over the five-year period,” Werner told Bloomberg of SunPower’s pilot, which modestly starts in about 10 of KB’s thousands of homes. “We think of storage as where solar was five to 10 years ago.”

This article appeared in Solar Energy