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Enhance the Energy Savings of a Solar PV Array with Battery Storage

For a number of years now, homeowners have been installing solar photovoltaic arrays in their homes as a means of lowering their electricity bills and earning some money through the Feed-in Tariff at the same time. However, customers and installers have been searching for a technology that allows them to use more of the energy they’re generating in order to further reduce grid demand and electricity bills.

Solar photovoltaic arrays, commonly referred to as PV, generates usable electricity from the sun’s rays via panels situated on or near a property. This free electricity replaces grid demand and, therefore, lowers the cost of powering a home. At the same time, the government’s Feed-in Tariff scheme pays customers for the energy their system generates (generation tariff) and for any unused electricity that can be sent back to the grid (export tariff). The generation tariff pays customers for each kilowatt of electricity their system generates regardless of how the energy is used, whereas export is deemed and customers are paid assuming they will export 50 percent of their total generation.

Here lies the problem

The solar industry has been hunting for the technology that allows for customers to still benefit from the generation tariff and still receive their export payments but use as close to 100 percent of the electricity generated as possible.

Solar arrays only generate energy when the sun is up in the sky. For most domestic users, this is when the demand for electricity is lowest as properties are likely to be empty and appliances switched off. Although switching to running appliances during the daylight hours will help increase consumption, the government won’t be too far off when they assume domestic customers will only be consuming 50 percent of the energy they generate.

And now here lies the solution…

Adding a battery storage solution to a PV array still allows homeowners to earn their generation payments, still allows customers to receive their deemed 50 percent export payments but storage means customers can now use almost all of their solar generation by storing the energy at the point of generation for use when demand is higher.

To break it down, battery storage takes the excess energy that has been generated by a PV array and, rather than exporting this energy to the grid, diverts it to charge the battery pack. Once the battery pack is fully charged, the stored solar energy is then discharged into the system when there is either no solar generation or generation cannot meet demand. Basically, the battery charges for free from the solar system and discharges to replace grid demand. This process allows solar customers to use near 100 percent of the energy they produce.

The storage process provides several key benefits to the customer…

Harnessing 100 percent of the energy generated by an array creates a further energy saving between 50 and 75 percent, depending on pre-installation consumption levels. This equates to a further £300-500 annual saving. It’s worth noting that the export payments received from the Feed-in Tariff will remain the same as the export tariff on domestic installations is deemed (see above). Furthermore, what happens when grid demand lowers? So does carbon footprint. For homes looking to reduce their carbon output, adding battery storage can eliminate tonnes of extra pollution each year.

Installing a battery storage device alongside an existing PV system also provides customers with protection against future hikes in the price of electricity. Despite energy prices plateauing in recent months, the overall trend has seen, and is expected to continue to see, prices on the up. By not only generating free electricity but using 100 percent of this generation, a solar PV array and battery storage solution will only become more cost-effective in the future.

Battery storage’s compatibility with solar PV systems

With a variety of household brands offering a host of different models and alternatives, battery storage can be retrofitted to existing arrays or installed in new systems. Customers already benefitting from solar PV will need to consider which alternatives will best match their existing system and may need to consider a replacement solar inverter for compatibility purposes. New installations can be designed to incorporate the storage solution of choice.

Thanks to advancements in the battery cell technology and the development of battery management systems, battery storage is more reliable and enduring than ever, with life expectancy in advance of a 10 years. Smart technology within the systems themselves controls how the battery charges and discharges to maximise the efficiency and lifespan of the battery. With no user input, the whole process is automated and means homeowners will see these savings without any further time investment.

Domestic solar customers might want to look into battery storage technologies to further enhance the benefits of a solar installation and to provide protection and security against the unstable energy market.