SolarCity Corp Launches Microgrids To Enter The Distribution Business

Leading residential solar installer SolarCity has launched a new service called GridLogic to protect communities from blackouts in the event of a natural disaster. GridLogic is a microgrid that communities can tap when the utility grid goes down. Rather than building giant utility-scale plants, the San Mateo-based company plans to build a distributed system of smaller grids that might serve local communities, with or without a connection to the utility grid.

SolarCity Corp Launches Microgrids To Enter The Distribution Business

SolarCity joins the utility industry

SolarCity has long accused utilities of standing in the way of change as more customers move to renewable energy. Now the company is entering the utility-style energy distribution business itself. Its GridLogic system will add software and generators to manage the power. SolarCity said in a statement that it will use Tesla batteries to store the energy generated.

Though owners can tap the solar energy for daily use, the primary purpose is to store electricity in the event of a natural disaster such as a hurricane or earthquake. SolarCity spokesman Jonathan Bass said there has been a significant increase in severe weather events. It has led to more grid outages. For GridLogic, the solar installer is targeting regions that are vulnerable to such catastrophic events.

SolarCity to offer microgrids worldwide

Daidipya Patwa, chief of SolarCity’s microgrid operations, said the company’s primary target is communities, municipalities and areas with a weak grid or no grid at all. SolarCity’s microgrids will be available worldwide as the company looks to take microgrids to island nations with poor utility grids. SolarCity CTO Peter Rive said that the microgrids are “a template that can be scaled up to basically be the next-generation grid.”

Tesla is building a massive Gigafactory that will produce lithium-ion batteries at a scale not seen anywhere else. The microgrids will use batteries produced by the Gigafactory. Though SolarCity may have a clear roadmap to build microgrids, it would be interesting to see how many communities are willing to take the plunge.

SolarCity shares fell 2.03% to $47.41 at 10:57 AM EDT on Monday.