There was once a time when electricity generating renewable energy technologies, such as solar PV, were a great investment.
But faced with continual cut-backs to Feed-in-tariffs (FiTs), system owners need to find new ways of maximising their investment in solar PV.
Back in 2010, the government’s Feed-in-tariff (FiT) rates were generous, and in addition to the standard FiT, users benefited from bonus payments for energy sold back to the grid and a reduction in their energy bills by using energy they had produced themselves.
As rate structures continue to decline, behind-the-meter (BTM) technology, such as smart inverters and storage, could be the answer.
What is Behind-the-meter technology?
Taking action ‘behind the meter’ refers to anything that can be done to reduce the amount of energy being purchased from the utility company.
One example would be an energy storage system installed on the consumer’s side of the electricity meter to store energy produced onsite, to be used onsite, but BTM also includes things like making energy efficiency upgrades, or behavioural changes that have a positive impact on the amount of energy consumed from the grid.
How can batteries be utilised for solar PV?
Solar power supply is inconsistent: when night falls and the sun disappears, so does the ability to produce power.
During the evening and night, system users would typically be utilising power from the grid.
However, installing a battery allows energy generated during the daylight hours to be stored for use later on, particularly during the evening when consumption is typically high.
This puts the control back in the system owner’s hands and allows them to take a more efficient path for future power consumption.
Apart from installing storage systems, what else can be done?
One of the simplest ways that system owners can off-set reductions in FiTs is by shifting their consumption patterns to match PV production.
By setting the immersion heater to power-up during the day so that it uses generated power is a cost-effective way of effectively storing energy.
Smart plugs could also help. These devices allow consumers to control appliances in the home via an app to ensure maximum synchronicity with energy generation.
The future of renewable energy storage…
You can find out more about this subject by reading a blog written by Lior Handelsman, founder of SolarEdge, for the Solar Trade Association (STA).
He talks about what could be gained by utility companies working together with the PV industry, PV ‘power stations’ and advanced in communication infrastructure, inverter controls, computing power and smart inverter technology.
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Take a look at Logic4training’s renewable energy courses here.