David’s Versus Goliath’s in the Energy Arena

With millions of solar customers already in the U.S., and that number steadily increasing, solar+storage is going to be a winning combination versus the centralized power monopolies.  With the advent of solar+storage on the residential landscape, the Goliath’s of centralized power, with their Achilles Heal power lines and poles transporting energy from nowhere to somewhere, will not be able to provide the high level of reliability and energy security that a solar+storage energy solution will be able to.   Empowered with these new energy solutions, the David’s of the residential communities will finally achieve energy freedom in a power landscape that has been dominated by the utilities for over a century;  solar PV systems with panel wattages nearing 500-Watts and efficiencies heading towards ~25%, along with lower-costing, longer-lasting lithium battery storage, will free people from the shackles of the centralized power utilities with their stale revenue streams.  

Enphase Energy is the champion of residential solar power with their uniquely independent microinverter technology, and they are about to release a revolutionary, grid-agnostic energy solution; their 8th major generation of software technology, called “Ensemble”, encompasses Enphase’s microinverters, the Envoy communications gateway, two new powerful Encharge storage products and an intelligent automatic transfer switch called Enpower; this product portfolio will give customers the long-awaited energy freedom that was part of Enphase’s vision from the very beginning over 10 years ago.  Furthermore, only Enphase provides a “safe AC-coupled”  solution which competing solutions cannot claim.  

Enphase is releasing its long-awaited Encharge storage in 3.3 - and 10 -Kilowatt-hour models; these new storage products will do for storage what Enphase microinverters have done for solar panels, that is, providing a much easier installation process, simpler management, safer, and much more reliable solution with its redundant hardware topology.  A single 3.3 -Kilowatt-hour Encharge will contain four IQ8 microinverters adding a level of redundancy that competitors do not currently provide; if by chance there is an inverter failure, the storage product will continue to operate.  Furthermore, by using passive cooling (no fan failure to make the storage product inoperable), this adds yet another major fault-tolerant aspect to the storage product.   An Enphase microinverter-based solar PV system along with Encharge storage will be an energy solution many customers have been awaiting, and it is far easier to manage a single-vendor solution than it is to mix and match, as many competitor solutions require.  With the value added by an Enphase Ensemble energy solution, the solar PV system upgrade business will truly be born.

Considering that solar systems connected to the utility’s power grid have to be “anti-islanding” which means they have to shut down when the utility grid is down, Enphase’s upcoming 8th generation microinverters and associated products will bring a level of energy freedom never before attained.  An Enphase “Ensemble” energy solution will be grid-agnostic and operate regardless of the utility grid’s status; this will be revolutionary, and in future versions of Ensemble, their energy solution will not even require storage to operate!

When just solar PV systems are installed, customers are tied to the utility for their power when the sun is not shining.  As more solar PV systems have proliferated, many utilities have started shifting their peak rates from 12-noon to a 4-9pm or 5-8pm strategy; according to Jim Jenal of Run on Sun in California, this revenue-generating tactic will only “drive more solar owners into storage, and the Ensemble system will be huge in that market.  The more the utilities squeeze, the more customers will slip through their fingers”.  Time-of-use rates and demand-charge fees will only increase the adoption of solar+storage, and Enphase’s Ensemble will be a godsend to customers allowing them to “slip through” the utility bureaucracy net.  

With the arrival of Ensemble, conditions known as “brown-outs” will become obsolete; a “brown-out” is when there is a brief dip in the utility’s power causing lights to flicker, routers to reset, digital clocks to lose their time, etc; in the near future, customers will never even know the utility power had a disruption if they have a grid-agnostic energy solution installed.  Furthermore, conditions known as “black-outs” when the utility power grid fails for an unknown amount of time, will become much less of a crisis situation if the customer has a grid-agnostic energy solution that has the ability to create its own “micro” grid.  Multiple Encharge batteries will give a homeowner true energy freedom when the solar PV system is not operating.

In summary, Ensemble will be Rule 21-compliant; of course, this only affects people in California, but it is a bellwether for the rest of the solar world.  Rule 21 is the glue which will bind the residential energy systems or DER’s (Distributed Energy Resources) with the utilities and create a better working relationship.  So, in a short amount of time, grid-agnostic energy solutions will become the norm and lessen customer reliance upon the utilities, but at the same time, they will bolster the reliability of the utility’s centralized power grid as a whole.   With this symbiotic relationship between homeowner and utility, then maybe the David’s of the world can literally achieve a balance of power with the Goliath utilities.  Regardless though, grid-agnostic energy solutions will be a serious disruptor on the energy landscape, and should cause changes analogous to when the automobile replaced the horse-n-buggy!