Solar-Plus-Storage Economics: What Works Where, and Why?

Joyce McLaren, Katherine Anderson, Hannah Miller, Aaron Bloom, Nicholas DiOrio

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

20 Scopus Citations


This paper explores the economics of solar-plus-storage projects for commercial-scale, behind-the-meter applications. It provides insight into the near-term and future solar-plus-storage market opportunities across the U.S. We explore the impacts of location, building load profile, technology cost, utility rate structure, and policies on solar-plus-storage economic viability, and identify which factors are most significant to project economics. While savings from storage-only projects are largely derived from demand charge reductions, solar combined with storage also provides significant energy charge savings. A common assumption is that load profiles with peaks are likely candidates for savings from storage, due to the opportunity for demand charge reduction. Our results indicate that potential for savings from combining solar with storage is independent of building load variability, likely due to the energy cost reductions from the solar. Systems are more often economical under time of use and demand charge rates, particularly when demand charges are >$10 per kilowatt. Where systems were found to be economical, expected lifetime savings averaged between 7%–10%, with savings of 30% in numerous cases. Near term markets exist for solar-plus-storage in locations such as California and New York. As technology prices drop, the number of building types that can benefit increase, and additional markets appear in Colorado, New Mexico, and Alaska. All data from the study and interactive modeling results are available at:

Original languageAmerican English
Pages (from-to)28-46
Number of pages19
JournalElectricity Journal
Issue number1
StatePublished - 1 Jan 2019

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2019

NREL Publication Number

  • NREL/JA-6A20-73231


  • Battery storage
  • Demand charges
  • Electricity markets
  • Energy charges
  • Solar-plus-storage
  • Utility tariffs


Dive into the research topics of 'Solar-Plus-Storage Economics: What Works Where, and Why?'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this