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Ever since lower priced solar panels have hit the market, it has become obvious that home battery systems are the next logical step for our modern, but still evolving, energy grid.
Installing solar panels on your rooftop has never been easier, as panel prices have fallen in price by 80% over the past two years and installation rebate programs are generous in many jurisdictions. But getting all that free daytime energy from the Sun won’t do you much good unless you can store it for later use.
Having a home battery system allows you to store the energy that your solar panels collect every day.
Without a home battery system, solar power can make economic sense in many locations — but solar with a battery system will rock your world! OK, maybe not rock your world, but it makes a lot of sense if the battery system can be had for a reasonable price.
Without a home battery, you can still sell your excess solar generated electricity to the grid if your utility has a net-metering programme. But much of your profit is eaten up when you buy back some of that electricity after the Sun sets, at a higher price. Yes, every day of the year.
For homeowners, having battery storage means you could save a lot of money over ten or twenty years if a battery system is cost-effective to begin with — and a battery system IS a wonderful thing to have during utility company power outages.
Home Battery Systems can make sense, even without solar panels
If you live in a jurisdiction where you can buy electricity from your utility company at a very low rate during certain hours of the day or night and store that energy with your home battery system for later use, that can work for you — regardless if you have solar panels or not. Peak rates can be $0.38 per kWh in some parts of North America (or higher), while off-peak rates can be $0.08 per kWh (or lower) making the peak rate about five times more expensive in this example, than the off-peak rate.
Prognosticating ten or twenty years out, who’s to say what electricity rates may be? There always seems to be a reason to hike the rates.
Your home or business can run on the power from your home battery system during high electricity rate periods, and past midnight, your battery system can be scheduled to automatically connect to the grid and recharge itself at the lowest rate.
At present, we are about 10 years away from economically priced home battery systems for the majority of consumers. That’s not to say that you can’t go out and buy one of these systems today, because you can. It’s just that they cost more than the average consumer is willing to spend at this point.
Apart from collecting solar energy for you all day or saving money due to rate fluctuations (or both), home battery systems can protect you from utility company power interruptions, especially for those in rural areas or other areas where power outages are common.
However, for homeowners in rural areas and subject to frequent power service interruptions, having a battery backup can make sense.
Take the case of a dairy farmer who suddenly has no electricity at 7:00am on a cold winter morning; How is he going to milk 2500 cows in one hour, and in the dark, without backup power? Of course, the old standby has always been an expensive-to-fuel diesel generator and the noxious fumes that go along with it.
Or we can look at a veterinary clinic, or other examples where uninterrupted electrical power is important.
With battery backup, electrical power returns within one minute and the vet can proceed with the days operations on her four-footed patients and the farmer can milk his cows without missing a beat.
Emergency service providers, schools, and other important government buildings and businesses could also benefit from such in-situ battery systems.
It’s interesting to note that Tesla is working with Solar City to offer home batteries, using their Electric Vehicle (EV) battery technology. A fascinating development and one that holds tremendous promise.
Recycled Electric Vehicle batteries still have 70% life, after removal
GM wants to use old Chevy Volt batteries and give them a second life as an home battery. GM says that even after ten years of powering your daily commute, an EV battery still has at least 70% of the power it had when it was assembled.
In many cases, when an EV battery has reached the end of its life in an automotive application, only 30 percent or less of its life has been used.
This leaves a tremendous amount of life that can be applied to other applications like powering a structure before the battery is recycled. — Pablo Valencia, GM senior manager of battery lifecycle management
Innovations like new and recycled EV batteries will pave the way forward to a viable and affordable distributed energy future and can be a way to get very efficient second use from recycled EV batteries.
EV batteries store a huge amount of power, enough to power a home for two or three days in the case of a service interruption — and in the case of storing energy for everyday use during peak rate periods, would be well within EV battery capabilities.
Stay tuned, because this story is just beginning.