Solar+Storage for Household Back-up Power: Implications of building efficiency, load flexibility, and electrification for backup during long-duration power interruptions
The study analyzes the evolving role of solar+storage for home backup power during long-duration power interruptions. In particular, it evaluates how required storage sizing is impacted as homes become more efficient, flexible, and electrified. The study relies on NREL’s ResStock building modeling platform to create statistically representative distributions of the existing building stock in ten locations across the United States. It then shows how the amount battery storage required for backup power rises or falls as a series of building envelope efficiency, load flexibility, and electrification measures are applied across the building stock in each region. The study also includes sensitivities to show how backup power requirements are impacted by the timing and duration of power interruptions, and explores variation in backup power requirements across the building stock within each study location.
The results demonstrate the value of pairing solar+storage with efficiency upgrades, smart home controls, and (in mild winter climates) efficient heat pump retrofits. That value comes in the form of reducing the amount of storage required and/or extending the range of interruption conditions over which a given system can provide backup power (i.e., more extreme weather and/or longer interruptions). Heat pumps in cold-weather climates can pose a challenge for solar+storage backup power, given the amount of storage required, though are a vast improvement over electric-resistance heating. Retaining existing fossil-based heating systems for occasional use during power interruptions, as either the primary or supplementary source of heat, can mitigate this challenge. Other forms of building electrification (e.g., cooking and water heating) generally have marginal impacts on backup battery sizing, given their relatively small energy demand.