Solar Battery Storage For Solar Panels Systems

As we have previously discussed, the emergency of an efficient way of storing ‘excess’ solar energy produced by a solar panels systems has been the ‘missing’

Telsa Powerwall Unit Image

Telsa Powerwall Unit

ingredient in recent years, in terms of allowing Adelaide home owners to become relatively energy ‘self sufficient’. This would, in most instances, mean still being connected to the S.A. electricity grid, but be minimally dependent on it.

By implementing the installation of a quality solar power system, which typically consists of 1.a quality, recognised solar inverter that will run efficiently without faults and needing replacement every few years, and 2. good quality solar panels (this can include many ‘brand’ name Chinese manufactured panels that have a good long term track record of reliability in South Australian conditions), coupled with a modern solar battery storage system, Adelaide homeowners could be virtually ‘electricity independent’.

Solar storage batteries will become, in our opinion, a ‘standard’ component of solar systems in the next 5 to 10 years. Because the South Australian solar feed in tariff has been a ‘roller coaster’, in terms of the varying payments made for solar electricity exported onto the S.A. power grid, over the last few years, and the recent announcement that, from next year there may be no ‘minimum retailer payment’ payable, being able to store ‘excess solar energy’ in a stand alone battery unit will mean that solar power system owners in Adelaide can now effectively take control of their own generated solar electricity. The electrical energy generated by a homeowners solar systems can now not only be used to power appliances and lighting in the home, but any power not used can be stored in a solar battery unit for use at times when the solar systems are not producing power (like at night time).

So the benefit of solar battery storage is obvious – solar energy is an intermittent energy source – the solar panels in any solar system produce electricity only whilst the sun shines. The previously ‘generous’ S.A. solar feed in tariff meant that it was beneficial to sell back to the energy retailers as much solar energy produced by residential solar systems as possible – with the demise of any ‘substantial’ feed tariffs paid in South Australia, it is now far more beneficial to either use all of the solar power generated by a p.v. system or store the ‘unused’ solar energy in suitably designed ‘solar battery storage’ units. Solar batteries will create the opportunity for average homeowners in Adelaide to be essentially ‘free’ from the S.A. electricity grid (or minimally dependant), use the benefits of clean solar energy to run their household at night of solar electricity that has been stored in the batteries and have a source of electricity in times of power failures.

Current Players In Solar Battery Storage

There are many ‘players’ emerging in residential solar battery storage units. Most of the current offerings have energy storage capacities of between 8-10 Kwh, with most being “stackable” – meaning that several units can be installed to match a houses energy demands at night. Current manufacturers of solar battery storage systems include U.S. based Tesla with their “Powerwall” solar battery units, to Panasonic’s “Residential Storage Battery System“, to Australian company Redflow, who, unlike the Tesla and Panasonic storage units which use lithium ion battery technology, are using  zinc-bromine technology with an emphasis on their ‘recyclability’. Assessing the ‘financials’ of currently installing solar battery storage systems for use with residential solar systems can be complex, but it is reasonable (and obvious) to say that as solar storage units become mainstream components of any newly installed solar system and manufacturing volumes ramp up, then we would expect the same, close to exponential, price falls that were witnessed in solar panel manufacture, to be mirrored with solar battery storage systems, making them totally ‘viable, over the next 5 to 10 years.

Panasonic Battery Storage Video:


Energy Transmission In Solar Systems

One overlooked area of solar system technology is ‘transmission losses’ and energy transmission. In electrical engineering theory a lot of discussion, in any electrical generation system, be it a thermal power station, an off grid solar battery bank or even a space based solar panels generation unit, surrounds the power losses that will always occur when transferring electrical energy that has been generated from its source to the ‘load’. This is a critical issue.

In a residential solar system, buyers often spend considerable time researching ways to maximise the solar energy output of the system. This could include factors that would include any or all of the following parameters:

  • Efficiency of the solar panels. The efficiency of a solar panel is, in the most fundamental terms, measured by assessing the electrical power generated high efficiency solar panelsfrom a solar panels for a set amount of sunlight striking the solar panel. The sun radiates an astounding amount of energy. It equates to approximately 1kw (1,000 watts) of energy for every incident square metre of land that it strikes. People are often surprised to learn that solar power has a huge ‘upside’ once solar panel efficiency increases from the current levels of around 14 percent to 20 percent. If a 1 metre square solar panel was 100 percent efficient it would be able to generate an amazingly high 1,000 watts of electrical energy, which would clearly be a ‘game changer’ for solar power installation. Current solar panels used in a typical Adelaide solar installation, average around a 16 percent efficiency, meaning that, approximately, for every square metres of solar panels installed, they generate 160 watts of electrical power. Compare this with solar panels currently being developed in the U.S. by the M.I.T. and Masdar Institute that have an efficiency of 35 percent, with a potential of up to 40 percent efficiency. By using a simple concept of a light concentrator and a double layer of photovoltaic cells, very high efficiency solar panels could be available with efficiency in the 40 percent range within 5 years.
  • The transmission of solar power from the solar panels to the electricity grid or directly into a building’s electrical distribution system needs to be highly efficient. Most Adelaide residential solar systems use standard interconnecting cables. These cables need to be manufactured to appropriate standards. The conductive element of transmission cables need to be of sufficient gauge to ensure that electrical losses within the cable are kept to an absolute minimum. Basic electrical engineering theorem dictates that the electrical ‘losses’ in the interconnecting cable will be proportional the the electrical resistance of the cable. The other factor impacting losses in the electrical transmission cabling connecting solar panels into a solar inverter is the ‘run’, or length of those cables. The longer the cable, the greater the power losses in the cable will be.
  • On the subject of transmission of solar power from solar panels it is interesting to note developments from the Japanese space agency, JAXA, which has been developing microwave technology that could, in principle, be used to ‘wirelessly’ transmit solar energy generated by large solar arrays launched into space. Clearly the issue is how to get the captured electrical power back to earth in such a ‘space solar station’. The Japanese research into efficient ways to deliver solar power is an important ‘adjunct’ to developments in solar panel efficiencies.

Integrated Solar – Next Generation Solar Technology

Solar power is now ‘mainstream’, as far as acceptance as a viable ‘alternative’ to grid supplied electricity or certainly as an ‘adjunct’, in Adelaide and South Australia. indeed South Australia continues to lead all states in Australia with the uptake of rooftop solar panels systems. The next generation of solar installations will be fascinating to witness. The integration of solar cells into roofing tiles and integrated ‘solar roofs’ where there entire roof structure of a home or even commercial building will effectively be a ‘roof top power station’, with photovoltaic modules actually integrated into the roof structure. Several companies are looking to integrate battery technology into the solar panels, hence providing energy storage and power generation in one unit.

Large Scale Solar Battery Storage Project In South Australia.

As discussed above, the “intermittency” of solar power – that is the inability of solar power systems to produce electricity around the clock, has been long touted as the ‘downside’ of solar power and the emergence of sophisticated solar battery storage technologies can bring the benefits of clean solar energy to users 24 hours a day. The Lyon Group has announced plans to build a massive 100 megawatt solar battery storage facility near Roxby Downs. The project, named the Kingfisher Project, will include a 100 megawatt solar plant. This is equivalent to 20,000 5 kw residential solar systems – an astounding sized solar and battery storage project. This is an exciting development, and again demonstrates the fact that business sees the value in investing in large scale solar projects and clearly sees solar battery storage as having a strong and necessary future in the industry.