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Battery Storage for Home Solar PV Systems

Hindsight is a wonderful thing. Back in May 2016, I wrote an article in this very newsletter about battery storage for home solar PV systems. Were they worth the investment?

My answer then was a tentative ‘yes’: adding a battery unit to a home system made sense in certain conditions. Solar storage had its uses. But in 2016, battery units were expensive and non-versatile,  and had to live up to the solar PV dream of storing enough power in the day to keep homes powered at night. Two years is a lifetime in technology. So would our advice on batteries be the same today?


Times have changed


In short, no. Solar battery storage has come a long way since that drizzly summer. So much so, in fact, that adding battery storage to a home solar system now makes sense in many cases. That’s because solar batteries can now store more power for longer, for the same price. This means homeowners can generate their own power at a reasonable cost, store it to use later and still be paid for generation. More on that below.

With these improvements to the technology, battery storage now offers a conclusive answer to that nagging doubt many of us have about solar panels: what happens when it’s dark? Simple: batteries store power when it’s sunny, ready for use when your solar panels aren’t active.

Best in class

Leading the battery pack is the Tesla Powerwall 2.0: a sleek, versatile system that’s simple to install and controlled via a user- friendly interface. Each Powerwall can store up to 13.5 kWh of energy with 90% efficiency – enough to offer 5 kWh of continuous power to your home. To put this in context, the average UK mid-terrace house uses 2779 kWh of power annually, or 7.6 kWh daily. This means Tesla’s Powerwall stores almost twice as much power as the average homeowner is likely to use in a day.

Other battery systems exist, offering benefits which might be better suited to your home. For the purposes of this article, however, Tesla’s Powerwall is a powerful example of the onward march of battery technology. The 2015 Powerwall 1.0 stored only 6.4 kWh, offering 2 kW of continuous power. That’s less than half the performance of today’s model, for the same price.

Stop the clock

It’s an exciting time for the solar industry, and we’re seeing more customers than ever choosing to make the most of their solar PV system by investing in battery storage. The timing of the technological development couldn’t be better for homeowners. While the cost of batteries is falling, the cost of buying energy from the National Grid has risen dramatically since 2008.

In 2017, average home energy prices increased by 8.4%. By June this year, the ‘Big Six’ energy suppliers had increased their prices by another 5.3%. For many, battery-enabled solar systems could be the answer. Generate power in the day while you’re at work; use it at night when you return home. Save money on energy bills, make money from the Government for the privilege.


Feed in Tariff


This is an important point. Since 2010, the Government has paid homeowners to generate their own power via the ‘Feed- In Tariff’ scheme, or FIT. This name is misleading, because the scheme pays for more than just the power ‘fed back’ to the National Grid. Under FIT, homes are paid for all the energy they generate. This includes the power they use themselves and the power they send back to the Grid.

With a traditional solar PV system, this represents a good deal. You generate power; you use what you can; you get paid for every unit generated. Any excess power is sent back to the Grid – but this earns you, the homeowner, no additional value. Adding battery storage makes it a great deal. You generate power; you store it until you can use it, and you get paid the same amount. Excess or no excess, rain or shine.

It’s true that adding battery storage increases the installation cost of a home solar PV system. But the Government has thought of that, too. For batteries installed as part of a new solar PV system, customers currently pay only 5% VAT – down from the usual 20%.

Tomorrow’s battery technology is here today and it makes great sense for many. So what are you waiting for? Visit #MVFHotTopics





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 Newsletter 652

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