Home energy storage
Home energy storage devices store electricity locally, for later consumption. At their heart are batteries, typically lithium-ion or lead-acid, and intelligent software. An energy storage technology, they are downstream relatives of battery-based grid energy storage and support the concept of distributed generation. When paired with on-site generation, they can virtually eliminate blackouts in an off-the-grid lifestyle.
The stored energy commonly originates from on-site solar photovoltaic panels, generated during daylight hours, and the stored electricity consumed after sundown, when domestic energy demand peaks in homes unoccupied during the day.
Electric vehicles (EVs) used during weekdays, needing recharging overnight, are a good fit with home energy storage in homes with solar panels and low daylight-hour electrical consumption. EV manufacturers Tesla, BMW, Nissan and BYD market own-brand home energy storage devices to their customers, with Tesla's Powerwall enjoying significant media exposure. By 2019, such devices had not followed the price reduction of automotive batteries.
Differential tariffs and smart metersEdit
The units can also be programmed to exploit a differential tariff, that provide lower priced energy during hours of low demand - seven hours from 12:30am in the case of Britain’s Economy 7 tariff - for consumption when prices are higher.
Smart tariffs, stemming from the increasing prevalence of smart meters, will increasingly be paired with home energy storage devices to exploit low off-peak prices, and avoid higher-priced energy at times of peak demand.
Overcoming grid lossesEdit
Transmission of electrical power from power stations to population centres is inherently inefficient, due to transmission losses in electrical grids, particularly within power-hungry dense conurbations where power stations are harder to site. By allowing a greater proportion of on-site generated electricity to be consumed on-site, rather than exported to the energy grid, home energy storage devices can reduce the inefficiencies of grid transport.
Energy grid supportEdit
Home energy storage devices, when connected to a server via the internet, can theoretically be ordered to provide very short-term services to the energy grid:-
- Reduced peak hour demand stress - provision of short-term demand response during periods of peak demand reducing the need to inefficiently standing up of short generation assets like diesel generators.
- Frequency correction - the provision of ultra short-term corrections, to keep mains frequency within the tolerances required by regulators (e.g. 50 Hz or 60 Hz +/- n%).
Reduced reliance on fossil fuelsEdit
Due to the above efficiencies, and their ability to boost the amount of solar energy consumed on-site, the devices reduce the amount of power generated using fossil fuels, namely natural gas, coal, oil and diesel.
Environmental impact of batteriesEdit
Lead-acid batteries are relatively easier to recycle and, due to the high resale value of the lead, 99% of those sold in the US get recycled. They have much shorter useful lives than a lithium-ion battery of a similar capacity, due to having a lower charge cycle, narrowing the environmental-impact gap. In addition, lead is a toxic heavy metal and the sulphuric acid in the electrolyte has a high environmental impact.
Second life for EV batteriesEdit
To offset the environmental impact of batteries, some manufacturers extend the useful life of used batteries taken from electric vehicles at the point where the cells won't sufficiently hold charge. Though considered end of life for electric vehicles, the batteries will function satisfactorily in home energy storage devices. Manufacturers supporting this include Nissan, BMW and Powervault.
Salt water batteriesEdit
Unfortunately, Saltwater batteries are no longer being produced on a commercial level after the bankruptcy of Aquion Energy.
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