A study to find out how to harness more of the renewable energy generated by solar cells on people’s homes has been honoured at the British Renewable Energy Association Awards.
UK Power Networks’ project called Domestic Energy Storage and Control (DESC) won the Energy Storage Award at the ceremony at the Savoy hotel in London.
The power company has enabled a significant rise in the number of domestic solar panels being connected to its electricity network. Since 1995 enough homes have installed solar power to generate 495MW of electricity, sufficient to power all the homes in a city the size of Cambridge, with the majority of installations happening in the last five years.
DESC set out to address the challenge of how to use more of the solar energy generated by people’s domestic solar panels to help power people’s homes at peak times in the morning and evening when the sun is not shining. It did this by asking customers who already had solar panels fitted on the roofs of their homes to have domestic batteries installed. The batteries, which are about the size of a washing machine or fridge, were fitted with sophisticated monitoring equipment.
The project found that, at the peak of summer, customers did not need to import any electricity from the network for 60% of the days analysed thanks to the batteries, a figure that would have been even longer if that batteries had been larger.
Energy storage can potentially play a vital role in the transition to a low carbon economy. By saving energy generated when demand is low, such as on sunny days, and releasing it at peak times in the morning and early evening, batteries can help optimise the use of solar energy. The trial has proven that domestic energy storage works for domestic customers and electricity network operators, and that it has the potential to be deployed on a wider scale.
Ismini Dimitriadou, Innovation Engineer at UK Power Networks, said: “Energy storage has tremendous potential, but the technology is in its early days. The study was an important opportunity for the industry to learn how we can harness its capacity and support more low-carbon energy onto our network. We are listening to our customers and using advances in technology to deliver a more secure, stable and affordable energy supply.”
The award capped a successful night for UK Power Networks, which also saw its Kent Active System Management project shortlisted for the Innovation Award and Dr Laura Daniels highly commended in Young Energy Professional of the Year.