50% of German PVs now come with batteries included

In an article written by Paul Hockenos of the Yale School of Forestry & Environmental Studies, and published in Yale Environment 360, it is reported that half of all new domestic PV systems installed in Germany now incorporate battery technology, something that  has become possible as prices of lithium-ion battery prices fall.

Sophisticated systems now generate electricity during the day for immediate consumption, and for charging electrical vehicles. Any excess is then used to charge batteries for use at night or for when demand exceeds supply. When the batteries are charged the electricity is sold back to the supplier for use by other consumer.

One out of every two orders for rooftop solar panels in Germany is now sold with a battery storage system, meaning that more than 120,000 German households and small-business owners enjoy the benefits of totally carbon free electricity using technology that was not available five years ago.

The report accepts that this is still a tiny fraction of Germany’s 81 million people but claims that “recent growth demonstrates the strong appeal of a green vision for the future: a solar array on every roof, an electric vehicle in every garage, and a battery in every basement. Analysts see the embrace of home batteries as an important step towards a future in which low-carbon economies rely on increasingly decentralized and fluctuating renewable energy supplies. To date, electricity storage has lagged far behind advances in solar power, but as batteries become cheaper and more powerful, they will increasingly store the uneven output of wind and solar power, contributing to the kind of flexibility that a weather-dependent source will require.”

The downside of the battery bonus, explains Kai-Philipp Kairies, an expert on power generation and storage systems at the RWTH Aachen University, is that “under today’s conditions it takes about a decade to pay off the battery from savings on energy bills. But most of the lifespans of these batteries today aren’t much more than 10 years, at most 15 years. Then you have to buy a new one.” Which means the industry as at a tipping point and as technology improves, and economies of scale are realised, the price will fall further.

Elmhurst’s Martyn Reed agrees that battery storage, including the use of batteries in electric cars, to smooth out the peaks in demand is very sensible. Achieving full payback within the life of a unit is obviously a very attractive proposition but one that no other consumer product has to demonstrate. Nobody buys a new TV or a new car on the basis that it will save them money, it is bought for the non-financial benefits that it gives. Solar technology is about reducing carbon emissions, improving air quality, reducing the pressure to invest in large scale distribution infrastructure and to allow us the choice to move away from our reliance on finite supplies of fossil fuels generally owned by countries proven to be unreliable. Financial payback is just one benefit of many.”

The report concludes that “Regardless of the type of battery, home energy storage units can help smooth out fluctuations in electricity production, a function known as “balancing.” When the grid is flush with power, for example, grid operators can pay battery owners — even ones with no solar array attached to them — to store the excess for them. When the grid needs power, home and car batteries can feed energy into the grid. Experts say balancing is critical to the larger project of a low-carbon world.”

To read the full article click here https://e360.yale.edu/features/in-germany-consumers-embrace-a-shift-to-home-batteries

Article Published: 7th June 2019

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