SunPower is scaling up its energy storage plans with a pilot program that will combine solar panels and batteries for new home owners in the California cities of Irvine, El Dorado Hills and San Diego.
SunPower has long tinkered around with the idea of energy storage.The second-largest U.S. solar manufacturer carried out small pilot projects, experimented with different technologies and in 2013 announced plans to to roll out its first energy storage product.
This latest pilot, while small, has the potential to expand thanks to its longtime collaboration with home builder KB Homes. Under the pilot, the solar panel-battery product will be installed in select KB Homes. SunPower is also piloting energy storage solutions in Australia and Germany.
SunPower rival SolarCity is also working on an energy storage system that will use management software and Tesla's battery technology. While SunPower is focused on the residential market, SolarCity is primarily targeting businesses.
SolarCity's DemandLogic system uses learning software that automatically discharges stored energy to help commercial customers increase their savings. The stored energy can be used to power all operations including IT functions, security systems, cash registers and other systems that are critical to businesses.
SolarCity also started a a residential pilot plan a few years ago with 200 customers in California. The company plans to work with another group following the initial pilot.