Save it for later?

There is a lot of talk in the renewable energy world, and beyond, about battery storage.  Given that the domestic solar PV industry has been decimated by the recent (some would say) savage cut to the feed-in-tariff, the industry certainly needs something to talk about.

There are several reasons why battery storage is interesting. One strategic reason is that the national grid in the UK is under pressure.  And this is true all around the world where substantial local electricity generation has been installed.  Grids were designed for a few large generators, power stations, and millions of small users.  Now there are millions of small generators.  In the SW of England it’s almost impossible to get a large solar PV system built because the grid’s capacity for local generation has hit a limit.  Battery storage can help.  Imagine if everyone with a PV system also had a battery storage system.  Rather than send half of the generated power back into the grid (and rather more than half on sunny days) a proportion would be stored on site and used later that evening.  The grid is less stressed and the home owner saves money because they can ‘self-consume’ more of the energy they generate.

Even if you don’t have solar panels on your roof there may be a reason to consider battery storage – for energy price arbitrage.  If you have energy priced differently at different times of the day, which in the UK means an Economy 7 tariff, then you can store it when it’s cheap and use it when it’s not.

Sounds like a win-win, so it should be a no-brainer… and at the right price it will be.  However it’s time for the early adopters to step up while the rest of us wait for the commercial case to be made.  A typical battery storage system available today, if added to a solar PV system will still never pay for itself.  For most properties adding storage to even a relatively large array of 4 kW (16 panels) is likely to pay for itself in about 15-20 years – unfortunately the battery systems currently have a lifetime of around 10 years.

But watch this space, there is a serious amount of money going into battery development, ‘driven’ by companies like Tesla!  Prices will fall and the technology will become mainstream.  And if you think it all sounds a little ‘industrial’ then take a look at this: Living Room Storage  Just one of many new products for a market we didn’t even know we existed.

Author: Peter Cross

A couple of decades in the IT industry until I moved to renewable energy in 2009. More details on LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/peter-cross-0322925