How Solar, Energy Storage, and EV Charging Work Together


How Solar, Battery Energy Storage, and EV Charging Work Together

Installing a solar photovoltaic system on your property can reduce energy costs as well as mitigate your organization’s environmental impact. While solar is highly effective on its own, even more financial and environmental benefits can be unlocked when combined with battery energy storage and electric vehicle (EV) charging. Here’s how these different technologies work together to maximize sustainability and manage costs.

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Battery Energy Storage and Solar-Powered EV Charging

First, let’s dive into these technologies a bit deeper to explore what they are and how they integrate with solar energy. 

A battery energy storage system is a clean energy asset installed on your property that can intake energy generated by your solar arrays and store it for later use. Typically, this is done when the solar system is producing more electricity than your building is using. A battery energy storage system consists of multiple individual batteries housed within a weatherproof enclosure that’s normally sited alongside a building or in a parking lot.

Electric vehicle charging stations are installed on properties to accommodate EV drivers who need to replenish their cars in between trips. Workplaces, municipalities, and multi-unit dwellings are just a few types of locations where EV chargers make sense. When charging stations are installed together with solar, the energy the system generates can be used to power the chargers.

Using an EV as a Solar Battery

In some cases, an electric vehicle can function similarly to an energy storage system by storing excess solar electricity in its battery and then dispatching it back to the building to help power its loads. This capability is called bidirectional charging and is becoming increasingly beneficial to owners who want to maximize the usefulness of their clean energy assets. Not all EVs and EV chargers are capable of bidirectional charging, but more are expected to support it in the coming years. For more hardware information, check out our article on how much commercial EV charging stations cost.

Benefits of Combining Solar, Energy Storage, and EV Charging

When you pair solar with battery energy storage and electric vehicle charging, you can take advantage of more benefits compared to if you leveraged just one of these assets alone. Let’s take a look at some of the ways combining multiple technologies can improve sustainability as well as financial outcomes. 

Reduced Energy Costs

An onsite solar system with energy storage installed creates more flexibility in terms of when you’re able to use the energy that’s generated. Under normal circumstances, solar production begins as the sun rises in the morning, peaks at midday, and tapers off toward the evening as the sun sets. 

With energy storage, any energy that’s generated in excess of what your facility consumes during the day can be banked and used to fulfill energy needs during times of lower solar production, thereby limiting or avoiding grid electricity consumption. 

This practice is especially useful in hedging against time-of-use (TOU) utility charges, allowing you to use stored energy when electricity is most expensive. Energy storage also enables “peak shaving,” or using stored energy to lower your facility’s monthly peak energy usage, which utilities often charge on a higher rate.  

Money-saving tactics such as these can also reduce your carbon footprint. Extending the use of solar energy with energy storage decreases your reliance on the utility grid, and thus, fossil fuels.

Optimized EV Charging

Adding electric vehicle chargers to a solar-plus-storage system provides valuable optimizations. For starters, it allows you to use more clean solar energy and less fossil-fuel energy from the grid to power your EV charging stations — making the technology truly “green” and strengthening your sustainability profile.

Another big benefit is cost savings through load management. When you choose PowerFlex as your EV charging provider, you leverage PowerFlex X™, our intelligent adaptive energy management platform that orchestrates solar, energy storage, and EV charging stations as a unified system. 

Using patented Adaptive Load Management® algorithms, the platform ensures EVs are charged without overloading your electrical system or incurring expensive peak demand fees from your utility company. These efficiencies allow PowerFlex to install more charging stations with less infrastructure upgrades, saving you up 60% on implementation costs.

Energy Resiliency Through Microgrids

When solar, energy storage, and EV charging technologies are tied together into a microgrid, your building becomes resilient and self-sustaining in the face of utility disruptions such as extended power failures caused by bad weather or equipment breakdowns. 

A microgrid has the ability to isolate from the larger power grid and uses a combination of the solar array, stored battery energy, and a traditional generator to power your building’s critical operations (which may also include EV chargers if your business depends on electrified fleet vehicles).

PowerFlex X coordinates all energy assets in a microgrid to ensure efficient and sustainable continuity of operations — intelligently alternating between solar, battery, and generator energy to power your building in the most cost effective and environmentally friendly way.

Virtual Power Plant Participation

Combining energy assets (also referred to as distributed energy resources, or DERs) on your property facilitates participation in virtual power plants (VPPs). These are aggregations of DERs that are owned by businesses and organizations like yours.

Participating in a VPP not only allows owners to benefit from their DERs in the ways explained above, but also enables them to monetize DERs and access new revenue streams. Opportunities include participating in demand response programs, which pay companies for curtailing their energy consumption when demand on the grid is high.

For more information on virtual power plants, be sure to check out our guide.

Trust PowerFlex to Help You Combine Solar, Energy Storage, and EV Charging

Interested in implementing a combination of solar, battery energy storage, EV charging, or more on your property? Our experts at PowerFlex can design a system that fits your financial and environmental goals. Contact us now to get started.