New lithium battery technology to store energy from solar PV panels

A houseowner in Lewes has become one of the first in the area to use state-of-the-art lithium battery technology to store energy from solar PV panels.

Jill Goulder has installed a lithium battery storage system linked to her solar PV panels. These recharge during sunlight hours and provide power in the evenings – very useful for households who use most of their electricity outside sunlight hours.

Jill Goulder with lithium battery for storing solar electricity (image: YouGen)

Jill Goulder with lithium battery for storing solar electricity (image: YouGen)

The system switches seamlessly between battery and mains supply as needed; a good system will cover a household’s normal needs, though major appliances such as washing machines and vacuum cleaners drain the batteries rapidly and will need mains top-up.

Jill says

“Lithium batteries are the new generation of energy storage, and they’re decreasing in price.  My electricity bills are already very low, but I liked the idea of using all the electricity that I generate with my solar PV panels; and it gives me supply security in case of the mains power cuts.”

The system can be monitored online by the user on their own computer, with graphics showing consumption and battery usage throughout the day.

The system is housed in a blue metal box about the size of an airline carry-on bag, bolted to a wall, for example in an attic. The installed price for a small-to-medium system is likely to be £4,000 – £8,000, so it is not for everyone, though it’s becoming a favoured investment for householders with solar PV panels who are looking to take the next energy reduction step. Jill thinks that sooner or later Britain will follow Germany’s lead in providing a subsidy for householders investing in these systems.

Importantly, this particular system will also work in a power cut. Jill comments

“I do know that some companies are selling systems that don’t work during a power cut (and unscrupulously not telling customers), but it was a no-brainer for me to have that – it was a major factor in buying it, as outages are increasing.”

Jill adds

“Do use a reputable supplier for your installation – there are cold callers in this area offering quick sign deals that are less good value than they seem; and check too that the system you buy will continue to work during a power cut. Analyse your electricity use carefully beforehand: when are your peak times for using electricity each day, and can you install more energy efficient appliances or LED lighting? And ask around for advice – in Lewes the Transition Town Lewes Energy Group will be able to help you.”

Jill’s installation is a Victron EcoMulti Hub-2 (2.3kWh storage, 3kVA inverter) installed by Bright Green Energy Ltd of Beckenham, linked to her 1.29kWp solar PV system.

The appearance of Tesla’s new battery solution we wrote about here has not gone unnoticed by Jill. She comments

“I’m simply boggled at seeing front page stories last week in the UK about Tesla unveiling magical new technology which would allow you to store the energy from your solar panels. Hello, storage batteries have been around for 200 years… Certainly lithium is a new, better technology, but Tesla certainly aren’t the first by a long mile.”

On the plus side, she says

“It all helps generally in focusing on storage. As you doubtless know, some sunny countries are pressing solar panel owners to invest in storage as the daily surge into the grid from the panels are causing problems!”

Jill Goulder is an archaeologist and also a SuperHomer. Jill has refurbished her Victorian terraced cottage and achieved a radical 61% carbon saving. See Jill’s SuperHomes page for more about her continuing house improvements including this latest addition of lithium battery technology.

Source: YouGen

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