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Electric Vehicles and AI Are Straining the Grid: How Solar Can Help

April 15, 2024 | Reading Time: 12 minutes

Many areas of the United States are at risk of blackouts and long-term power outages as artificial intelligence (AI) data centers and public electric vehicle (EV) chargers drive up energy demands. Proactive homeowners are turning to solar energy with battery backup systems to ensure reliable power while our dated electric grid struggles to keep up.

Growing Electric Demand on the Nation’s Traditional Power Grid

The demand for electricity in 2023 skyrocketed due to rapid advancements in AI and widespread implementation of public EV charging systems. In the U.S., Canada, and part of Mexico more than 563,000 gigawatt hours were demanded for new electricity.

The Ripple Effect: AI’s Never-Ending Energy Consumption

The exponential and widespread rise of artificial intelligence has added significant pressure on the electrical grid. As AI becomes more complex, advanced data centers are necessary to run 24/7 and support digital processes like cloud computing and algorithms. This growing demand tests the capacity of the grid and leads to higher chance of outages.

Public EV Chargers: Convenience with a Cost

Electric vehicle chargers have sprouted up for public use at gas stations, grocery stores, supermarkets, and more. This accessibility has helped evolve the EV industry greatly by making the switch to electric cars much more achievable for consumers.

Desperate Attempts to Modernize the Grid

Recognizing the need to update the grid’s structure to increase its capacity and resilience, 2022 marked the beginning of major electrical upgrades. But big tech is already outpacing this modernization. Almost 70% of the grid’s infrastructure is more than 25 years old, and incapable keeping pace with rising demands.

How the Grid Manages Excessive Demand

When the grid is facing high demand that it can’t keep up with, utility companies have two options: reopen inactive power plants or temporarily shut off power for less populated areas until the surge of demand subsides.

Reopening Power Plants

Reactivating previously shut down power plants is an extremely expensive and a truly, “last resort” option for utility companies when managing excessive demand. Extensive planning, testing, and monitoring would be necessary to ensure the plant is capable of reopening and once it does open, its activity would need to be highly regulated.

Utility companies are very unlikely to carryout this operation. The cost to execute is extremely high, and the potential for a positive return on investment is substantially low. Therefore, companies are much more likely to address excessive energy demands with an alternative method: temporary localized shut down.

Shutting Down Less Populated Areas

Unfortunately, the preferred way utility companies grapple with high energy demand is at the expense of consumers. Oftentimes, power lines are shut off or limited in voltage during demand surges to lessen the pressure on the grid. These outages can last for a few minutes, hours, or even days and usually occur during extreme weather events like heatwaves when many people are blasting their AC at the same time.

Avoid the Stressed Grid with Solar Energy

Minimizing your reliance on the electrical grid the most effective way to mitigate your chance of being subjected to unpredictable power outages. Solar panels equipped with battery storage systems are a guaranteed way to protect your home or business from blackouts.

The Solar Panels

Solar panels are essential in safeguarding your property from electrical grid outages. The can panels produce power independent of the grid and will never stop producing as long as the sun rises each day.

The Batteries

The batteries are just as essential in this equation. Their ability to store energy during the day for later utilization is a key factor in ensuring a consistent power source for your property.

Solar panels alone will not be able to power your home during an outage. Not only will their operation be cut off while the grid is down, but as soon as the sun sets, energy production will stop. The batteries allow for energy to be sent directly to the home and store the excess during the day. At night, the home can tap into the stored battery power maintaining a stable energy supply until the sun rises the next day.

Solar Power and the Grid: A Mutual Relationship

The solar industry and the electrical grid have developed a mutually beneficial relationship despite being in direct competition. Solar incentive programs like net-metering and ConnectedSolutions make this possible.

Net-Metering

Net-metering allows for the two-way transfer of energy from a solar panel system and the electrical grid. When a solar system produces more energy than the property needs, the extra energy is sent to the grid. In exchange, the grid awards the property with energy credits to use at a later time when the solar panels aren’t producing enough power.

The credits build up and when an electric bill is due, a net value is calculated to determine whether there is money owed to the utility company. The goal of a solar system is to achieve “net-zero,” meaning the owner does not owe anything on their electric bill. This is achievable even with net-metering as long as the system is properly sized to meet energy demands.

ConnectedSolutions

ConnectedSolutions is another ongoing incentive program that allows the transfer of energy from battery storage systems to the electrical grid. Batteries are “dispatched,” meaning their energy is sent to the grid on a monthly basis for at least to five years.

At the end of each year, the property owners are compensated for the energy they sent to the grid and may earn up to $1,000 per year.

Solar Incentives: Relieving the Pressure

These solar incentive programs help to relieve the grid of high electrical demand. So, despite solar panel systems being direct competition for utility companies, the grid is in a desperate position where they’ll take any help they can get. Tapping into private power sources like solar panel systems is an inexpensive way for the grid to mitigate pressure during demand surges.

Not only will participating in solar incentives get you paid, but you’ll also be helping the grid manage the energy distribution system in your community.

Isaksen Solar: We’ll Safeguard Your Property

As we see the demands on our electrical grid growing while society progresses toward a more automated world, it’s clear we need dependable and green energy solutions. Isaksen Solar is here to help you with this.

By choosing to install your solar and battery system with us, you’ll avoid problems from an overloaded grid and enjoy a reliable source of independent energy. Our expert team will make sure your switch to solar power is seamless and tailored to your energy needs.

Choosing Isaksen Solar means you’re not just getting solar panels; you’re gaining peace of mind. Your home will be powered 24/7, no matter the strain on the grid. Give us a call when you’re ready to get started or if you have any questions, (508) 717-3820.