Renewable sources of energy like solar power have one major disadvantage: their level of output is unpredictable. Power generation from solar panels can’t be turned up or turned down in response to changing demand for electricity. The solution is obviously energy storage, and solar battery technology has been moving forward by leaps and bounds in the past couple of years.
Most solar panels add electricity to the power grid
The solar batteries that have been available up until now have had two major disadvantages: they’ve needed to be replaced frequently and they’ve been inefficient, especially at high temperatures. Why store solar energy in a battery and lose some of the power when you can simply transfer it to the grid and be fully compensated by the electric company? That’s why solar voltaic panels are almost always connected to the power grid if it’s possible to do so.
Off-grid solar power has usually been confined to off-grid locations
Only off-grid property owners have had an economic incentive to store the energy they generate. They’ve had to accept the cost of battery replacement and the losses associated with battery storage because they haven’t had a choice.
Now, Lithium-ion batteries are revolutionising energy storage
New lithium-ion battery technology is changing the equation. Compared to traditional lead-acid batteries, they are higher capacity, higher efficiency and longer lived. Lithium-ion batteries can store more electricity in a smaller area, and they can release energy at almost any rate with greater than 90 percent efficiency. Compare that to lead-acid batteries, which can lose as much as 40 percent of their power when they’re forced to meet unusually high demand. Lithium-ion batteries can cope with temperatures of up to 45°C without losing much efficiency, while lead-acid batteries take a significant hit starting at only 25°C.
This could make communities and even single buildings energy independent
Many people like the idea of saving the power generated by their solar panels for use onsite, making their home or business truly self sufficient. However, for properties with access to the electrical grid, it has always been a better idea, economically, to sell the solar power to the electric company, draw energy from the grid, and accept that the solar panels’ output is going to contribute to a discounted electricity bill rather than providing direct power.
For many of our customers, this new battery technology could put true energy independence within reach. As this and other, better storage technologies develop, we may see the birth of a new locally based system for energy generation and storage and the end of the vast, international electrical grids that power our cities and towns today. Imagine highly efficient, net-zero buildings and communities powered by renewable energy that is generated locally. Even more importantly, it will no longer be necessary to burn fossil fuels to meet peak demand, whether that demand is measured on a local or a regional scale. Grid-scale energy storage may become a viable option.
Call for more details about lithium ion batteries, including what we have available now and what we may be able to provide you with in the near future.