One of the key drivers for community and residential energy storage is distributed solar photovoltaics (PV). This is because distributed PV causes fluctuations on low-voltage networks (the end of the line of the grid, essentially). In order for the residential side of the market to take off, customers need an incentive to prioritize either onsite consumption of renewable energy or dynamic pricing for residential electricity rates. Either will work, but both will require customers to have better information about energy and how they are using it.
To that end, California-based solar PV developer and manufacturer SunPower has introduced a smartphone application for Android that delivers information to customers on the energy performance of their residential solar system, their home’s energy usage, and environmental savings on an hourly, monthly and annual basis. The app also gives users access to historical data and the option to share data. This mirrors the tracking data available on the firm’s website, but delivers the information more conveniently and without the need to log into a website.
Although this doesn’t present a financial incentive for residential energy storage, apps like these improve the energy awareness of homeowners much in the way that smart meters do. Presenting residential PV owners with more information about their energy generation and use is the first step in helping customers understand whether or not they would benefit from optimizing distributed renewables by using storage.
Other apps in a similar vein include Radio Thermostat, which lets users who have installed physical radio thermostats in their homes to remotely manage the temperature from a smartphone. Many more applications are educational, teaching users how to improve energy efficiency and perform energy audits. These apps are just scratching the surface in terms of home energy management, but are nonetheless important because they are making information accessible, easy to understand, and most importantly, easy to use.
Article by Anissa Dehamna, appearing courtesy the Matter Network.