Scaling energy storage while facing a climate crisis



As the effects of a changing climate increase in both frequency and severity, the need for technologies that can decarbonize and support electrical infrastructure is paramount. In this episode of Solar Spotlight, Zolaikha Strong, senior director of policy and regulatory affairs at Generac Power Systems, discusses the significance of energy storage in the contexts of grid stability, individual energy resilience and the greater mission of combatting climate change.

A written portion of this podcast is below but be sure to listen to the full episode on your preferred podcast service.


SPW: What are you hearing from customers in terms of interest in battery storage?

Zolaikha Strong, senior director of policy and regulatory affairs at Generac

Zolaikha Strong: I think there’s a definite interest in exploring opportunities with battery storage, especially as we are seeing a surge of unpredictable weather patterns. Folks want to be able to understand how they can build a more resilient system within their homes. We’re seeing storms in Puerto Rico, New Jersey, California, Texas. With all this unpredictability, there’s definitely that interest. Also, I think that one of the advantageous things that’s happened through these conversations regarding climate change is the fact that people will have a better understanding of how to control their own power. Especially, as we say, behind the meter where a lot of these batteries fall into, people understand how to integrate solar and get solar panels on their houses. A clear way to help support your home is having a storage system that is able to give you power when there is that incompatibility with the weather.

How does climate change affect the need for resiliency in the United States?

Climate change is playing a role globally. We in the United States, I believe, have a better handle of understanding what it is, understanding the implications of it. And when you have an idea of what it is, it’s actually happening, there’s opportunities to find solutions. I think climate change is now a conversation piece that I hear across very different diverse groups that are starting to understand the impact of some of the decisions that we’re making here. And as we’re seeing, it’s happening in our own backyards, whether they’re storms or the fires that we saw in Maui. It definitely, for lack of a better word, is really hitting home and it’s companies like ours and others that are really starting to provide the solutions to be better stewards for the environment for all of us.

What role do demand-side energy resources play in building resiliency?

I think it plays an extremely essential role. When you have demand side resource, you are given an opportunity for, whether it’s an individual homeowner or somebody that maybe as a commercial facility, to be able to control their usage and to understand their usage. And by understanding their usage, they’re able to help support the grid and provide more resiliency on the grid.

What do people in our industry need to consider when educating those who may have a weaker understanding of technology?

Keep it simple. I think that’s a really important thing to know. Those of us that are in this industry, and in this world, we deal with very complex technical issues on pretty much on a daily basis. And to be able to sit down and explain to a group of people who it’s not their day to day, we really have to make sure that we have things simplified in a way that people can see these opportunities as solutions, these demand side resources as solutions, for their own needs.

Why is it important for communities to feel represented while learning about solar?

One of my favorite personal things that has come out of this infrastructure bill is the environmental justice initiative, as well as a real influx for low-to-moderate income communities and disadvantaged communities, communities that have never been represented in the past. Climate change solutions, demand side response solutions, any of this stuff, for it to be integrated, we need to have everybody on board; we need to make sure all communities are represented; we need to make sure that, going back to your question on education, that we’re not educating people at a level where it doesn’t show them the impact within their own homes. We need to discuss cost savings; we need to discuss climate change. SPW

This podcast is sponsored by Generac Power Systems


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