Solar batteries store excess energy produced during peak sunlight hours for later use, enabling homes and businesses to maintain power autonomy and improve energy security.
Their applications range from enhancing self-consumption and providing emergency backups to enabling energy independence and supporting grid services.
With each advancement in battery technology, new and innovative uses emerge, further solidifying the role of solar batteries in the global push for a cleaner, more resilient energy landscape
Self-Consumption During Non-Solar Periods
Using batteries to store excess solar energy during the day and then using that energy at night is a straightforward way to increase the self-consumption of solar power.
However, at present, the cost of solar batteries can make this practice financially unfeasible on its own.
For self-consumption to be a worthwhile investment, the batteries need to be cycled every day to get the most benefit over the lifespan of the battery system.
This approach aims to maximize the use of stored solar energy and minimize reliance on the grid, particularly during peak usage times when electricity is often more expensive.
Lower Peak Demand
Reducing peak demand with solar batteries can be quite beneficial, particularly for commercial electricity users where demand charges can account for a significant portion of the bill, sometimes up to half.
Batteries help ensure that the daily peaks in power usage aren’t as high, which in turn can lower these demand charges.
To work out the potential savings, you’ll need detailed data on your energy use, typically in 30-minute intervals, and a clear understanding of the demand tariffs set by your electricity provider.
With this information, you can better assess the impact of using batteries in conjunction with your solar PV system and determine the potential financial benefits.
Arbitrage Between Retail Prices
Using a battery system can be a strategic way to navigate the changing costs of electricity throughout the day.
If your energy usage aligns well with this strategy, you can charge the batteries when the electricity prices are low (off-peak) and use the stored energy when the prices are high (peak times).
Sometimes, the price difference per kilowatt-hour (kWh) might be more than 30 cents, which can lead to substantial cost savings.
On a larger scale, energy companies use battery systems to buy and sell electricity in the National Energy Market (NEM) at optimal times.
In the near future, with the development of peer-to-peer energy trading platforms, individual homes, and businesses could also participate in buying and selling electricity, optimizing their energy costs and consumption.
Coverage During Blackouts
Regarding backup power, batteries provide a clean, albeit limited-duration, alternative to diesel generators for businesses where power continuity is critical.
While batteries offer a quieter and cleaner backup option with less maintenance than generators, they are generally limited by their storage capacity.
Diesel generators can run as long as fuel is available, which can make them more suitable for longer outages, but they are costly to purchase and operate.
The choice between batteries and generators will depend on the expected duration of blackouts and the reliability of the local grid, among other factors.
Avoiding Power Supply Upgrades
Integrating solar power and battery storage systems can sometimes be a more cost-effective alternative to upgrading grid infrastructure for businesses that require a significant amount of power.
Upgrades like adding a substation or a large transformer can be very costly, and solar plus storage offers a solution that can either work in tandem with existing grid infrastructure or as a standalone off-grid system.
It’s crucial to understand that the various applications of solar batteries can complement one another.
To fully evaluate the potential benefits of solar batteries for a business, you must consider all possible uses together.
For example, a battery system might simultaneously offer peak shaving, load shifting, and emergency backup power.
Moreover, when assessing the viability of a solar battery system, it’s essential to account for specific product characteristics that affect performance over its lifespan.
- The rate of degradation: How quickly the battery loses its ability to hold a charge over time.
- Round-trip efficiency: The percentage of energy that is retained after storage; for example, if you put 100 kWh into the battery and get 90 kWh out, the round-trip efficiency is 90%.
- The effective depth of discharge (DoD): The extent to which a battery can be used relative to its total capacity; for instance, a battery may have a recommended DoD of 80%, meaning only 80% of its total capacity should be used to ensure optimal longevity.
Solar Energy Storage
The evolution of “solar + storage” technology, which began with simple off-grid solar setups using photovoltaic cells, power electronics, and lead-acid batteries, has seen tremendous growth.
Today, energy storage has become an integral part of various applications, from residential systems connected to the utility grid to micro-grids that ensure reliable power in remote areas.
The integration of solar panels (which act as the fuel source), inverters (the engine that converts solar energy into usable electricity), and batteries (which serve as the energy storage or ‘fuel tank’), is critical for an effective solar power system.
This synergy is akin to how the fuel system, engine, and energy storage in a vehicle must work together smoothly to provide a reliable way of transportation.
These systems provide energy, monitor and manage data, and ensure proper diagnostics, essential for operating sophisticated solar systems.
With the shift to advanced Lithium Iron Phosphate (LiFePO4) cells and the development of sophisticated battery management systems, energy storage has been transformed.
These advancements have equipped solar system installers with more efficient, durable, and cost-effective storage options.
Other Solar Batteries Applications
- Backup Power: In case of power outages, solar batteries can supply electricity to your home, ensuring that essential appliances keep running.
- Energy Independence: Store excess solar energy for use during nighttime or cloudy days, reducing your reliance on the grid.
- Off-Grid Living: For homes in remote locations without access to electricity, solar batteries can store generated power for a consistent energy supply.
- Demand Shaving: By using stored solar energy during peak hours, you can reduce your electricity bills.
- Emergency Backup: For businesses, solar batteries can provide emergency power to critical systems like data centers.
- Energy Arbitrage: Businesses can store low-cost energy and use or sell it when prices are high.
- Grid Services: Large battery systems can provide services to the electrical grid, such as frequency regulation and demand response.
- Remote Installations: For field research stations, military bases, or other specialized installations, solar batteries can provide a reliable power source.
- Portable Solar Generator: A portable solar generator can be used for camping, boating, and other recreational activities.
- Electric Vehicle Charging: Some people use solar batteries to store energy for charging electric vehicles.
Community and Utility Scale
- Microgrids: In smaller community grids, solar batteries can provide backup power and grid stabilization.
- Grid Stabilization: On a larger scale, utility companies use massive battery installations to store energy and stabilize the electrical grid.