Can Solar Prevent Blackouts?

Have Tesla and Solar City discovered the secret to solar’s success?

Jan 26, 2014 at 8:00AM

Poor solar power gets a tough rap sometimes. People say you can't count on it, and that it's never there when you need it. But that may just be because we're not playing to its strengths as well as we could. This week, a study came out of Australia showing that solar energy had helped to meet soaring electricity demand in the extraordinary heat waves that have been cooking our friends Down Under.

Load leveling
The concept here is fairly straightforward. Under normal circumstances, our electricity grid relies on stable power sources that can deliver on a constant, consistent basis. Traditionally, the backbone of this system has been coal-fired power plants, with natural gas-fired plants joining more recently. The problem is that these sources struggle to meet demand spikes under extreme weather events, such as extreme cold (polar vortex, anyone?) or heat. We all run to our thermostats to crank them within an inch of their lives, and there's not enough power on the grid to meet all of that demand. Cue the blackouts.

Now, it's true that renewable sources such as solar and wind are not consistently reliable. No sun, no solar power. No wind, no ... well ... wind power. But these sources are often available during exactly the type of weather events that create that excess demand, and they can back up the grid at those times. This is known as load leveling.

Tesla Motors (NASDAQ:TSLA) and Solar City (NASDAQ:SCTY) figure there's something to this. The two companies have worked together on the DemandLogic system, combining solar power and storage for commercial buildings. Solar City makes the solar array, and Tesla makes the batteries. DemandLogic communicates with the broader electrical grid, allowing it to respond to rate and demand fluctuations.

The future of renewables, and our power grid in general, depends on the proper deployment of a diversity of resources. Tesla and Solar City may be about to reap the rewards. Watch the following video to learn more.

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Sara Murphy has no position in any stocks mentioned. The Motley Fool recommends and owns shares of SolarCity and Tesla Motors. Try any of our Foolish newsletter services free for 30 days. We Fools don't all hold the same opinions, but we all believe that considering a diverse range of insights makes us better investors. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.

4 in 5 Americans Are Ignoring Buffett's Warning

Don't be one of them.

Jun 12, 2015 at 5:01PM

Admitting fear is difficult.

So you can imagine how shocked I was to find out Warren Buffett recently told a select number of investors about the cutting-edge technology that's keeping him awake at night.

This past May, The Motley Fool sent 8 of its best stock analysts to Omaha, Nebraska to attend the Berkshire Hathaway annual shareholder meeting. CEO Warren Buffett and Vice Chairman Charlie Munger fielded questions for nearly 6 hours.
The catch was: Attendees weren't allowed to record any of it. No audio. No video. 

Our team of analysts wrote down every single word Buffett and Munger uttered. Over 16,000 words. But only two words stood out to me as I read the detailed transcript of the event: "Real threat."

That's how Buffett responded when asked about this emerging market that is already expected to be worth more than $2 trillion in the U.S. alone. Google has already put some of its best engineers behind the technology powering this trend. 

The amazing thing is, while Buffett may be nervous, the rest of us can invest in this new industry BEFORE the old money realizes what hit them.

KPMG advises we're "on the cusp of revolutionary change" coming much "sooner than you think."

Even one legendary MIT professor had to recant his position that the technology was "beyond the capability of computer science." (He recently confessed to The Wall Street Journal that he's now a believer and amazed "how quickly this technology caught on.")

Yet according to one J.D. Power and Associates survey, only 1 in 5 Americans are even interested in this technology, much less ready to invest in it. Needless to say, you haven't missed your window of opportunity. 

Think about how many amazing technologies you've watched soar to new heights while you kick yourself thinking, "I knew about that technology before everyone was talking about it, but I just sat on my hands." 

Don't let that happen again. This time, it should be your family telling you, "I can't believe you knew about and invested in that technology so early on."

That's why I hope you take just a few minutes to access the exclusive research our team of analysts has put together on this industry and the one stock positioned to capitalize on this major shift.

Click here to learn about this incredible technology before Buffett stops being scared and starts buying!

David Hanson owns shares of Berkshire Hathaway and American Express. The Motley Fool recommends and owns shares of Berkshire Hathaway, Google, and Coca-Cola.We Fools don't all hold the same opinions, but we all believe that considering a diverse range of insights makes us better investors. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.

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