At one time or another, many of us have had a dream of living ‘off the grid’–private well, private septic system, solar energy, etc. Think of how much you could save on energy bills. Well, the solar industry has promoted various aspects of solar energy over the years, and many people have installed solar panels on their homes to cut utility expenses. I suspect that many of the people who installed these panels also assumed that if the power went out, their solar panels would keep supplying their homes with electricity. Evidently that is not true.
PJ Media reported the following today:
Going solar isn’t necessarily any protection from California’s new “planned” power outages, and local residents and businesses are enduring a lot more than just a few inconveniences.
Bloomberg’s Chris Martin has a story on California’s troubles with one of my favorite headlines ever: “Californians Learning That Solar Panels Don’t Work in Blackouts.” Apparently, many of California’s would-be Earth-savers had no idea that just putting solar panels on their roofs doesn’t mean they’ll have power when PG&E switches it off. As Martin explains:
Most panels are designed to supply power to the grid — not directly to houses. During the heat of the day, solar systems can crank out more juice than a home can handle. Conversely, they don’t produce power at all at night. So systems are tied into the grid, and the vast majority aren’t working this week as PG&E Corp. cuts power to much of Northern California to prevent wildfires.
The only way for most solar panels to work during a blackout is pairing them with batteries. That market is just starting to take off. Sunrun Inc., the largest U.S. rooftop solar company, said some of its customers are making it through the blackouts with batteries, but it’s a tiny group — countable in the hundreds.
Martin quotes Sunrun Chairman Ed Fenster explaining that solar power with local battery storage is “the perfect combination for getting through these shutdowns,” although he fails to mention just what an expensive proposition that is, especially in the rural areas most affected by California’s return to the primitive. Fester, whose company sells those very batteries, expects battery sales “to boom” now that the promised blackouts have begun.
I guess gas generators are probably the only way to have power during the blackouts. Wow.