Net Metering, Grid Dependency, and Battery Systems in Commercial Solar Deployments


The deployment of solar arrays in commercial environments has gained significant traction due to their environmental and economic benefits. There are some common misconceptions regarding the concepts of net metering, the role of solar arrays during power outages, and the use of battery systems to maintain business operations. This article aims to help clarify these topics, providing an overview of net metering and utilizing battery systems for backup power.

Net Metering:

Net metering happens when the power coming from the solar array is routed behind the meter and directly into the main distribution panel.  If a solar array produces more electricity than required, that surplus energy is sent back to the grid which “spins” the electricity meter backward. The business then receives credit for the excess electricity, which can be used to offset their future electricity consumption.

Grid Dependency and Solar Arrays:

Being grid-tied is part of a net metering array’s design.  During power outages, these grid-tied solar arrays shut down automatically for safety reasons.  In fact, the array must sense power from the grid for the array to turn back on after an outage – known as anti-islanding protection.  It would be dangerous to the utility workers attempting repairs if a grid-tied solar array continued producing electricity and pushed any excess power back to the grid.

Battery Systems for Backup Power:

To ensure uninterrupted business operations during power outages, a battery storage system can be integrated with a solar array.  Systems using batteries require special inverters that prevent islanding & pushing of excess electricity to the grid when the power goes out.  It is important to decide on incorporating a battery storage system early in the solar array design process, as it drives the overall design of the solar energy system.

When the grid is functioning correctly, excess solar-generated electricity charges the battery system and, once it is full, that energy flows back out to the grid. This stored energy can then be utilized in several different ways.

  1. As Backup Power: Businesses can continue to operate critical equipment and maintain essential services even when the grid is down. This ensures minimal disruption to operations and mitigates financial losses associated with power outages.  The key is designating which circuits are protected by the battery backup when the system is built.  Deciding on the battery system size and capacity is dictated by what it is protecting and how much power is consumed by those protected circuits.
  2. For Load Shifting: Battery systems allow businesses to shift their electricity usage patterns by storing solar energy generated during low-demand periods and utilizing it during peak-demand periods. This can help reduce electricity costs by avoiding high utility rates during peak hours.
  3. As a Demand Response Mechanism: Battery systems can also participate in demand response programs, where businesses reduce their electricity usage during times of high grid demand. By drawing power from the battery system instead of the grid during peak hours, businesses contribute to grid stability and may receive financial incentives.

In summary, solar arrays, combined with battery backup systems, can enhance a business’s energy resilience, reduce their reliance on the grid, and take advantage of cost-saving opportunities such as load shifting and participation in demand response programs. The combination of solar arrays, net metering, and battery systems represents a powerful solution for commercial entities aiming to achieve sustainable energy practices and improved resiliency in the event of a power outage.

Solar Module Recycling – eliminating waste and creating efficiency

Human Innovation solving long term challenges:

Solar power has become one of the most important sources of renewable energy worldwide, and its popularity continues to grow. The solar panel industry is evolving rapidly, and as a result, the number of solar panels in use has increased dramatically. It is estimated that over 90 million solar panels were installed worldwide in 2021, and this number is expected to grow in the years to come.

As solar panels reach the end of their life cycle, there is a growing need for recycling them in an efficient and environmentally friendly manner. This has led to the development of new technologies that are designed to make solar panel recycling more efficient and cost-effective.

Solar panels are made of various materials, including glass, aluminum, copper, and silicon, which all have different recycling requirements.

The solar industry has made significant progress in developing new technologies to recycle solar panels. In fact, according to the EPA, solar panel recycling has been shown to reduce the environmental impact of solar panel production by up to 90%.

One of the most exciting new technologies in solar panel recycling comes from France. A company called Rhonatec has developed a new recycling process that can recover over 95% of the materials in a solar panel, including the rare and valuable materials used in the panels. This new technology is expected to significantly reduce the cost of recycling solar panels and make it more economically viable.

Another exciting development is the emergence of a circular economy for solar panels. In this model, solar panels are designed from the outset to be easily recyclable, with the goal of creating a closed-loop system where solar panels are continuously recycled, and the materials are reused in new panels. The circular economy model for solar panels has the potential to significantly reduce the environmental impact of solar panel production and reduce the need for raw materials. Additionally, this model could help to create new jobs and stimulate economic growth in the solar panel recycling industry.

The World Economic Forum has recognized the importance of solar panel recycling and has called for a global effort to scale up the effort. According to the Forum, the global solar panel recycling market is expected to reach $1.2 billion by 2026.

In conclusion, the current trend of solar panel recycling is positive and inspiring. Despite the challenges associated with recycling solar panels, the industry has made significant progress in developing new technologies and business models that are designed to make solar panel recycling more efficient, cost-effective, and environmentally friendly. With continued investment and support, solar panel recycling has the potential to become a key driver of sustainable growth and economic development in the years to come.