Tim Seamans, Head of Commercial Solar at Direct Energy
I think we can all agree that solar power is a fantastic source of energy. It produces no carbonemissions and is incredibly reliable. But the sun is an intermittent resource, and doesn’t shine at night – so what to do then? One option is to use power generated by dirty fossil fuel plants, but a second, better option, is to install a battery storage system to capture excess solar power. Today, businesses can use battery storage to transform their energy strategy to be more cost effective, sustainable, and resilient, all while helping the local electricity grid.
In many regions, the peak time for energy usage is between early evening when people go home and turn on their appliances, like air conditioning to prepare for the evening. During that peak time solar systems aren’t producing at full capacity, so we typically rely on fossil-fuel generation to meet the high demand.
During that evening period power is going to both businesses and homes, which can be a huge strain on the grid, and in turn this high demand creates the most expensive power prices of the day. By storing energy that was created earlier in the day, you can use it during the peak time to avoid high energy prices. Also, by using stored energy, the carbon output is nonexistent.
Battery technology isn’t only good for the end consumer and the environment, it is also providing the utility with a valuable service. Most electricity grids are several decades old. It’s hard for this aging infrastructure to keep up with the growing demand for power. We are now seeing state energy committees putting forward programs that encourage batteries as another mechanism to stabilize the grid. For example, in Massachusetts, they have created Solar Massachusetts Renewable Target (SMART) program to encourage residential and commercial customersto installsolar panels and batteries in their homes and businesses. To further encourage renewable generation and storage in the state, it recently implemented the Clean Peak Standard which provides incentives for the deployment of more energy storage projects.
At Centrica Business Solutions, we work with businesses to help them become more energy efficient, install more renewable power, and be more resilient. Battery storage can help on all fronts because it can decrease overall energy costs and offers onsite power if needed in the face of a power outage.
For example, we recently worked with a bio tech company to protect their production facility from utility outages. which can be extremely costly because they could lose their clean room and product. To protect them from outages, we installed a small microgrid that includes battery storage system and a solar system. The advanced microgrid equipment can detect a utility outage, transfer to the power from the battery, and provide the entire facility equipment back up power for up to 2 hours while the utility comes back online, all while keeping the our customer’s plant up and running at full capacity without experiencing any equipment downtime.
In some regions, battery storage systems provide value beyond resiliency as well. For example, in New York, utilizing the Value of Distributed Resources (VDER), a customer can arbitrage the difference between lower rates in the morning and higher rates in the evening by storing and then dispatching power. Utilizing this incentive, Centrica Business Solutions is able to turn battery solutions into economic value for the customers through an annual lease payment.
Deploying battery technology can hold the power to make real impact to your business, whether it’s to cut costs, cut emissions, or to make your facility more resilient.