How technology is changing the way we consume energy

It may seem counter-intuitive that a technology finds its way into the market when its natural companion is in decline, but this is what is happening to solar panels and storage systems. As feed-in tariffs are being phased out across Europe, retaining solar power for self-consumption is becoming more advantageous than feeding it into the grid. The business case for installing solar systems is therefore changing from receiving a financial premium to reducing the energy bill.

At present, solar panels can provide less than half of households’ electricity needs, because the energy is produced during daytime and it has to be consumed immediately. If the energy is stored, however, a much larger portion (about 70 %) of the demand can be covered. This is why, despite its costs, the storage technology can transform the energy system.

In 2015, Citigroup, one of the largest financial institutions in the world, included energy storage in its main investment themes. The bank estimated that a reduction in costs of batteries to 230 US$/MWh, possible within 7 to 8 years, “would make self-consumption financially attractive in a number of developed economies.” […]

A new relation with “prosumers”

Solar energy storage is also driving a transformation of the relation with customers. With the “prosumer”, a new fi gure who produces and consumes energy according to its needs, the installation of solar panels will be only one element of the service offering. Users will manage the system through apps on their smartphones. They will engage with the system in a continuous interaction to maximise its performance. A higher level of personal responsibility will be involved…

The full article is available on Sun & Wind Energy, published in March 2016. The publication is available on subscription. Photo courtesy Pixabay.