Monday, 11 June 2012

Storing the Solar Power from your Roof.

After my first year of generating electricity from the PV panels on my roof I was interested to discover that I was 98.6% self sufficient. 
This sounds much better than it actually is. The reality means I still used 70% of my electricity from the grid because climate and my life style, mean that I used the majority of electricity when the sun wasn't shining.


Wouldn't it be fantastic if I could store the energy I'd generated and make use of it when it was needed? The big players in the Solar industries think that storage and the batteries required, will be the next big thing. Many of the companies are using the huge Intersolar show in Munich this month to showcase their new products. Link to Exhibition Site.

Like all new technology it is currently very expensive, but as many of us have seen for ourselves, the cosy of installing PV panels on our roofs has fallen dramatically in the past year, and by an even bigger amount in 5 years. Panasonic (who own Sanyo) have been selling a storage system in Japan in 2011. They intend to launch a similar system in Europe this year. Panasonic System link.

If we read the news reports, the emphasis has been on developing batteries and the related hardware for cars. I suspect that we're still some way off buying electric vehicles based on cost and mileage range. 
However, the most difficult problems facing motor engineers, i.e. weight and size of batteries are not as significant in a domestic installation. If I could put the component parts in a garage,shed or even under the stairs I would be tempted to invest in the product.


I suspect that in the next 5 years many of us who have taken the plunge and installed solar power will be considering an investment in storage devices. They won't be cheap, but energy costs will continue to rise above inflation rates for the foreseeable future. If the payback period could be 7 - 10 years then it might be worth considering. 
Currently in the UK when you sell your house you need to supply a "Energy Performance Certificate" (EPC). Can you imagine how much of a selling point the prospect of NO or minimal electricity costs would be?


Very few people in the UK, apart from the "evangelical greens" would have considered installing solar generating devices on their homes a decade ago. Events and technology move on. I suspect that many of our homes and energy demands will be significantly different in 10 years time.




Icarus
Twitter: (@solaricarus)

5 comments:

  1. Totally eco-friendly. Storage batteries would be the next big thing. Oh! And I also went to check in on the links you posted. They won't come cheap. One step at a time maybe.

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    1. Hi Emily. The technology isn't cheap now, but in 5 years time it may have gone the same way as PV panels. It may be a solution that we hadn't considered when many of us installed panels on our roof.

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  2. An appealing prospect, and something I wish I'd been more aware of when I commissioned my PV system earlier this year, especially as SMA already offers a "backup" system ad-on that switches to "Island" power in case of grid failure:

    http://www.sma.de/en/products/backup-systems.html

    It also came as shock to me to learn that without such backup storage a PV system is useless in a power cut.

    In terms of where to locate the battery storage there's one location you forgot to mention which I think would be ideal: beneath the property. Not many homes have garages attached but most have a void beneath the floorboards.

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    1. Hi Drambo. You've raised some very interesting points which I'd like to post further details of. As far as the battery storage problem, my house was built in the mid 60's and Had a garage as standard. Unfortunately, all of the ground floor rooms have concrete floors. Horses for courses!

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  3. Heads up to a piece just published in the Guardian yesterday: http://www.guardian.co.uk/environment/2012/jun/13/sharp-relocating-solar-hq-uk?newsfeed=true

    Aside from talkng about Sharp's plan to move its HQ to the UK it also mentions their announcement "...to launch battery storage system this autumn that will allow solar-generated electrical energy to be stored".

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