If solar by itself is full of potential, the scope is almost unlimited when you add storage. A battery can turn a passive asset, generating electricity only when the sun shines, into a dynamic, responsive asset.
When combining storage with a private wire solar project, the potential benefits are huge. Supply can more closely meet demand, you get the benefit of resilience and use the battery to help balance the grid. Adding all that together, solar and storage can give you enhanced project economics and new revenue streams.
However, it’s not all going to be a walk in the park… There are a number of issues with the proposition.
- Adding storage to solar doesn’t solve the problem of seasonal demand – you get peak solar generation in the summer but peak electricity demand in the winter. And no, we can’t just build a huge battery and store electricity from one season to the next… Not yet, anyway.
- Storing electricity results in losses, which add up.
- Costs of installing and maintaining the battery itself can be significant.
- Revenues associated with storage are uncertain and short term and we are now hearing talk of a flood of batteries destroying the value of opportunity from schemes like Enhanced Frequency Response.
With all that, you’d be forgiven for thinking that solar and storage is a bad idea for business… But you’d be wrong. Solar and storage is definitely a viable solution for some businesses, all you need are three simple components:
- A tailored approach to sizing and technology choices – picking the right tools for each and every site.
- A knowledgeable partner with a good understanding of both solar and storage.
- An ongoing management relationship – a partner with the funding and expertise to delivery lifecycle services to the battery and solar installation and minimise risk.
It’s important to realise that solar and storage won’t be a good fit for every single site and as both technologies are at different stages of maturity, there could well be teething issues at first.
However, due to its combined potential, solar with storage is a reliable solution that can improve the level of clean energy consumption in the future.
Nick Boyle is the CEO of Lightsource.
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