Granted, Batteries are the most common way to store solar energy. Fear not, there are still other ways we can store solar energy!
A recently developed idea is to pump water using electricity from solar panels to heights (for example, on the roof). This means they store potential energy which can then be converted into kinetic energy when it’s flown down. Subsequently, this produces electricity when this flowing water is used to rotate turbines. This is like a solar-hydropower combination!
Another way is to direct the energy from your photo-voltaic system to a water electrolyzer that generates hydrogen gas from water. This hydrogen gas is stored and can be used at a later time as a battery to generate electricity. This is mainly used for industrial purposes.
You can also get super-capacitors, which store electricity and then discharge it when needed. This method is SUPER EXPENSIVE!
Store as Heat Energy
A way we have discussed before is storing solar energy as heat energy! This is the way used by concentrated solar power plants. Here a fluid heats up with the solar energy and flows in a tube passing heat onto a receiver (this is where the heat is concentrated), this receiver then stores this thermal energy in thermal tanks which are available when energy is needed.
E.ON Solar Clouds
Best for last, a German utility company E.ON has the idea to store the electricity in the ‘E.ON solar cloud’ which is like iCloud or Dropbox for virtual electricity which can be accessed at all times. A linked app can also tell you how much electricity is stored in your account in the cloud.
The utility makes sure that the energy you draw from your account is balanced with the electricity your solar system contributes to the virtual electricity cloud. This solution is highly innovative as there won’t be any huge initial costs or maintenance worries.
They announced this in 2018, so hopefully there’s not much time before we can install it in our homes.
Can my Solar Panels Store Solar Energy?
No, the only function of solar panels is to ‘generate’ solar electricity. Basically they’re supposed to convert the energy from the sun into electricity. You can learn more about How Solar Panels Work to Generate Electricity!