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A wall-mounted battery stores electricity generated by rooftop solar panels for use charging an electric car. Photo: Don Bartletti/Los Angeles Times via Getty Images

Installations of home energy storage system in the U.S. hit a record high in the first quarter of 2018, according to a new industry report. The new capacity of 36 megawatt-hours will sustain an estimated 4,000 home systems and adds to the 1,080 megawatt-hours installed in the past 4 years.

The big picture: Home energy storage systems commonly use batteries to store the electricity generated by rooftop solar panels, which can then be used during peak times and on demand to reduce utility costs or for backup power during inclement weather. The increasing penetration of residential and commercial solar installations has lowered energy demands on utilities. But the policies they have implemented to offset those losses have ended up making home energy systems even more attractive.

The background: As solar gained popularity over the past decade, and customers began generating their own energy during peak times (noon), peak-time electricity demand for utilities dropped. As a result, the utilities shifted the peak times and time-of-use (TOU) rates to later in the afternoon and early evening when solar wasn’t as effective. Utilities have also started to restrict net-metering compensation, which allows customers to offset public utility costs or sell surplus energy generated from home systems back to the public grid.

One third of the first-quarter 2018 installations were in California and Hawaii, states with aggressive and supportive policies for renewables. (California’s self-generation incentive program, for example, offers energy storage subsidies if installed with a solar panel system.) Both states are looking to revise net-metering restrictions and TOU rates, which would make home installations more appealing and affordable.

What's next: As home energy storage systems proliferate, adding an electric vehicle to the mix would provide a trifecta of home renewables. Using stored energy generated from rooftop solar panels to power an electric vehicle could provide a model of fossil fuel–free living.

Maggie Teliska is a technical specialist at Caldwell Intellectual Property, an intellectual property law firm. She is also a member of GLG, a platform connecting businesses with industry experts.

Go deeper

6 mins ago - Health

Johnson & Johnson says booster shot increases efficacy of COVID vaccine

Syringes and a vial of the Johnson and Johnson COVID-19 vaccine in French Polynesia on Sept. 8. Photo: Jerome Brouillet/AFP via Getty Images

Johnson & Johnson said in a press release Tuesday a global study showed that the protection offered by its coronavirus vaccine was strengthened by a booster shot.

Why it matters: While J&J has not formally applied for authorization to offer booster shots to the general public, it said it has shared the results of the study with the Food and Drug Administration and plans to share it with the World Health Organization and other health regulators.

58 mins ago - World

U.K. prosecutors charge third person in poisoning of former Russian spy

Emergency services members in biohazard encapsulated suits encasing the poisoning scene in a tent in Salisbury, England, in March 2018. Ben Stansall/AFP via Getty Images

U.K. prosecutors said they had enough evidence to charge Denis Sergeev, a member of the Russian military intelligence service, in the 2018 Salisbury nerve agent attack against a former Russian spy, according to AP.

Why it matters: Sergeev is the third person to face charges for the nerve agent attack against Sergei Skripal and his daughter, Yulia, both of whom survived.

2 hours ago - Technology

Scoop: More boycotts coming for Facebook

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

Leaders of the Stop Hate For Profit social media boycott group are discussing whether to organize another campaign against Facebook in light of an explosive investigative series from the Wall Street Journal, Common Sense CEO Jim Steyer tells Axios.

The intrigue: Sources tell Axios that another group, separate from the Stop Hate For Profit organization, is expected to launch its own ad boycott campaign this week.

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