Are Batteries + Solar the future of our energy system?
Solar panels have become an ever more familiar sight on homes, businesses and in the countryside as they revolutionise our energy system. Solar is affordable, reliable, clean and modular which might explain why there’s nearly 900,000 systems now on UK homes.
One criticism often levelled at solar though is that it’s intermittent. This is true although it’s more variable than intermittent because the amount of electricity generated is predictable. Solar is often generating most during the middle of the day when we’re not home so the excess electricity feeds into the wider electricity grid. When we return home from work or school and turn the lights on, the solar has often stopped generating, so the large coal, gas and nuclear power stations have to increase their output to supply our needs. Many of those power stations are reaching the end of their life, which is why it’s often reported we’re heading for an energy gap where we won’t have enough electricity when we want it.
So if only we could harness all that excess clean solar energy generated during the day for use later at night? Well now we can by using the newest generation of battery technologies.
Battery technology is developing rapidly and getting cheaper everyday due to the demands of the auto industry, as electric cars become ever more popular (37% year-on-year growth compared to 4.7% for all cars in the UK. Source: SMMT).
Spear-headed by companies such as Tesla Motors, who last week revealed their most affordable car yet – the Model 3, these batteries are also finding their way into our homes. The Tesla Powerwall uses the same battery packs used in their cars but when used with solar allows homeowners to store their solar electricity generated during the day for use later at night and improving still further the financial benefits of solar.
Poweri Services from Nottingham is one of the few companies in the UK with the necessary expertise to be certified by Tesla to install the Powerwall, and has just installed what is thought to be one of the very first in the Midlands for their customer Lukasz Sabatowski of Hinckley. Poweri first installed a solar system for Lukasz in 2015 along with a charge-point for his plug-in hybrid electric car. Poweri are always looking at ways to save customers money on energy bills and reduce their carbon footprint so started talking to Tesla as soon as the Powerwall was announced. When Lukasz found out Poweri were talking to Tesla he was keen to find out more. Once the full technical detail of the Powerwall was available, Poweri set about designing a system for Lukasz to complement his solar. Now the system is up and running he should only have to buy electricity during the dullest of winter days or if his consumption is particularly high. Lukasz explains:
“With the installation of our solar panels we’ve been keen to reduce our energy costs as far as we can, and in the same time reduce our CO2 output. When we heard that Tesla has introduced the battery pack, which can store the excess electricity and could almost eliminate our electricity bill we were really excited. As we believe that this could be the future we wanted to play our part in that revolution. We’re convinced these batteries with solar will soon be common place and there will be fewer big power stations as a result”
Chris Roberts, Managing Director of Poweri says:
“We’re really excited about the Tesla Powerwall and other similar battery storage products because they not only save our customers more money than solar alone, they’ll also be less exposed to energy price hikes. Once we have thousands installed around the country they’ll also help to keep the lights on without having to build more big expensive centralised power stations – there is no doubt in my mind that this is the future of energy. We’re hoping to do a lot more with Tesla in the future”.