The Grids of the Future: how batteries will create a smarter grid

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Two of our founders, CEO Stefan Jarnason and Commercial Director Dr Renate Egan attended the much anticipated Solar Supercharge National Action Summit in Brisbane last month, organised by Australian solar community organisation SolarCitizens

Solar Citizens Solar SuperCharge Presentation

Stefan was among a handful of Australia's top solar champions to present to the audience on "The Grids of the Future: Smart Grids and Micro Grids". 

Key Points:

Solar Energy Revolution

  • The solar energy revolution is underway and it is unstoppable. The current electricity grid is simply being used to send energy from the remote (mostly) coal-fired power stations to our homes. This is all changing very rapidly.
  • Renewables are now the fastest growing form of electricity generation, with solar the fastest growing renewable energy, and residential the fastest growing segment. In Australia, residential has long been the dominant sector, and this is now occuring internationally. Globally, solar is on track to exceed utility solar, then wind in 2016/2017.
  • Change is a-foot. Upheaval of grid regulations is underway, with new solar inverters soon being required to talk to the grid, and regulators reluctantly accepting the impact and benefit of massive distributed generation and storage. 
  • Why – because distributed solar energy is already the cheapest form of electricity generation
  • A true smart grid has two-way energy flow from distributed solar and storage, and allows real-time energy data to be seen and actioned. Solar inverters can already provide grid support functions, and with storage this will increase dramatically.
  • The amount generated locally will increase from 3% currently to over 50% over the coming decades! As forecast by BNEF and IEA, residential solar + batteries will become our major source of energy. 

Impact on Home Owners

Quitting the grid entirely would be a poor outcome for everyone; by retaining some connection to the grid, home owners can benefit greatly:

  1. We will be the major source of electricity generation on the grid
  2. We will be able to decide when and if we sell our electricity to the grid
  3. We will decide when and if we sell our solar and storage ancilliary support services to the grid or our neighbours

Underperformance

However many solar systems are underperforming. For the Solar Energy Revolution to work, residential owners need to know whether their solar power system is performing and making them the most money possible.

  • Almost half of all Australian solar power systems are underperforming, on average losing almost 20% of their energy (SunWiz analysis of 8000 AusGrid PV systems)
  • 10-20% of solar power systems will have a major failure each year (depending on the quality of the equipment installed)
  • Without active monitoring people typically take months to realise their system is completely off, and will never realise that they are losing 20% of their energy
  • Over the lifetime of their solar power system this typically costs the more than $350 per year in lost energy.

Intelligent solar monitoring like Solar Analytics and operating systems like Reposit Power are needed to automate these decisions for homeowners to help them maximise their value.

For more information about Solar Citizens, head to their website here. Catch up on all the details from the Solar Supercharge National Action Summit here.


If you'd like to know whether your solar power system is performing to capacity, add your email address here to be notified about our free solar health check when it launches.