What are solar storage batteries and how can I use them?

“But they don’t work at night...”

“They don’t work when it’s snowing...”

“I’m out of the house all day at work, it’s no benefit to me...”

These are just some of the many and completely valid reasons why a consumer might have chosen not to install a solar pv system in the past.

Now though, there are no such excuses not to save your home or business thousands of pounds, and contribute towards a cleaner, greener environment.

Recent advancements in battery technology, in particular, solar storage has revitalised the solar power industry. Now you can power your home day and night, come rain or shine, slashing your reliance on the grid and your utility supplier.

Solar storage batteries have multiple benefits to an end-user, be it a home or business owner.

The primary function of a solar battery is to charge-up using excess solar power generated throughout the day. For too long the biggest hang-up for many homeowners has been that most of the energy generated from their solar system, is during day time hours when children are at school, or the homeowner is at work and cannot maximise the self-consumption of their generated energy.

Battery systems allow a homeowner to time-shift that excess energy, store it in a battery, then use the power when they get in from work, or when it’s needed most. These battery systems maximise potential savings, secures cheaper power by using the generated free energy, and runs the home into the night and the following day.

But that’s just one aspect of how smart solar storage batteries are. Many battery storage systems also allow for “off-peak” charging.

Remember when economy 7 energy tariffs were commonplace and you could get cheaper electricity between the hours of 11-6, or 12-7 to charge up water tanks and electric heating for use during the day? Well, batteries do this now too.

The benefit to this is that during the darkest depths of winter, when there is snow on the roof and you need to keep your home warmer and the lights on longer, you can still make use of the battery system to charge using cheap energy, even when there isn’t enough solar power to charge them. This allows a home or business owner to charge at say, 8p/kWh, rather than importing energy all day at 16p/kWh. That’s a 50% saving, without even using your solar energy.

Energy suppliers are now offering a multitude of new tariffs designed specifically for the solar PV and battery storage market. It’s all part of the UK power grids vision to create a cleaner, more flexible and less carbon-intense grid infrastructure.

These features benefit not only homeowners but businesses too.

On a commercial scale, battery storage allows a business owner to install on an economy of scale much greater than most homeowners. Not just limited to storing excess power from a solar PV system, a battery system can also offset hugely expensive Transmission Network us of System (TNuoS) and Distribution use of System (DuoS) charges.

A battery system can be sized specifically to manage these periods when transmission charges are passed onto heavy energy users and operate during specific periods when the National Grid warns of a potential TRIAD event.

What are TNuoS and DuoS charges?

It is worthwhile to check and see if your business has to pay these charges.

  • TNuoS – This charge relates to the costs incurred by the National Grid in relation to the maintenance of the transmission system. The charges are based on your business’ share of demand of the network during its peak demand (TRIAD). If you pay these fee’s, they will occur during TRIAD periods. Triad periods occur between 1st November and 28th February each year when demand on the National Grid is at its highest.

  • DuoS - This charge is based on the volume of electricity, which has passed through the Distribution Network, that is consumed at site. The rates your business pay vary depending on your region, time of day, and are characterised by a Red, Amber, Green scale of charges. You can identify these charges by looking up your local DNO (Distribution Network Operative) and identifying their ‘Line Loss Factor’ charges.

Put simply, a battery system can be sized to operate during a TRIAD period and whilst simultaneously offsetting DuoS charges, meaning you won’t pay any. These savings alone add up to thousands of pounds per year, allowing a four to six-year capital payback.

Which Technologies Do Solar Storage Batteries Use?

Solar and battery storage technology has a lot to thank the automotive industry for. From electric vehicle manufacturer Tesla to both Formula 1 and Formula E amongst many others. We have seen batteries get smaller, smarter, more powerful and longer-lasting.

Most Battery Storage systems use Lithium-ion or Lithium-ion phosphate technology, much like we find in our portable devices like computers, phones and tablets. They’re essentially lots of these types of battery, all connected together in a larger package. This enables them to deliver large amounts of power, very quickly and at varying loads.

How Long Do Solar Storage Batteries last?

This is by far the most common question and one that is often misunderstood. Most battery manufacturers guarantee that their product will deliver ‘x’ amount of cycles, usually 4000-6000, as a minimum over its lifetime.

Equate that cycle lifetime into days by using one cycle per day, a manufacturer is basically saying they anticipate their battery to last for a minimum of 10, but potentially up to and beyond 15 years.

More importantly and more recently, some manufacturers are going further than warranting purely on cycles alone. Some manufacturers, mainly those using LiFePO4 (Lithium-Ion Phosphate), offer a throughput warranty, guaranteeing a minimum delivery of power.

How Much Could I Save?

Savings completely depend on the capacity installed. For homeowners, a typical battery-saving runs between £300-£400 per year, if combined with off-peak/peak charging and discharging.

For a business, savings scale from the hundreds to thousands, again, dependant on the capacity installed.

Here at GB Solar we work with a manufacturer called GivEnergy, offering a market-leading throughput warranty that guarantee’s a minimum delivery of power and specialising in domestic and commercial applications.

Take a look at a recent case study. For a commercial example, you can see GivEnergy’s latest application on the BBC website, detailing their work with Premier Inn to install a battery-only system that charges from off-peak, and discharges during on-peak.

Want to know more?

Get in touch with our team to find out more about the savings on offer throughout the region.

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