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Innovative Storage Systems: The Key to Independence in Solar Energy

2023-11-29

Innovative Storage Systems: The Key to Independence in Solar Energy

The primary challenge of solar energy has been the ability to efficiently store unused electricity, bridging periods of low or no solar generation. Initially, this field was for enthusiasts and DIYers until professional providers entered the market, now capable of delivering economically sensible battery storage solutions for solar energy.

In addition to private energy use, the entire energy market is exploring efficient and cost-effective energy storage solutions. Therefore, efficient storage solutions for solar panels are equally interesting for both private and commercial users. The focus here is on private battery storage solutions for solar panels.

Overview of Current Storage Technologies for Solar Panels

For private users, the current focus is on Lithium-Ion storage technology and Lead-Gel or Lead-Acid technology. Lead-Acid or Lead-Gel technology is older and more affordable. However, compared to Lithium-Ion technology, it has the disadvantage of lower energy density and fewer charge cycles. Only the price speaks for the older technology. In summary, a current-generation Lithium-Ion storage system can store electricity for about 20 years. Compared to older technology, Lithium-Ion batteries also have the advantage of being lighter, and there is no acid formation since it is a closed system. During charging, Lead-Acid and Lead-Gel batteries release acids, vapors, and gases.

Advantages and Potentials of Battery Storage in Solar Panels

The most significant advantage of battery storage systems for solar panels is the ability to store electricity during times when the solar panels generate more power than is being consumed. This stored electricity can then be used when there is little or no solar generation. The sizing of the system and the relationship between battery storage capacity and the power output of the solar panel determine what portion of the total electricity consumption can be covered by the solar panel with battery storage. The calculation of the system should consider electricity prices, including the expected price developments, installation costs, and future electricity needs, such as an electric vehicle or a heat pump. By balancing these components, the result is the profitability of the system and the degree of self-sufficiency.

For many people, self-sufficiency is crucial, as it determines how much electricity needs to be purchased from the public grid. The ultimate goal for many is 100% self-sufficiency, but with current technology, this is still too expensive, even with the continuously rising prices. The reason is the comparatively low energy yield of solar panels in cold months, producing about 30 to 35 percent of the annual yield. However, 100% self-sufficiency is not necessarily necessary, as such a system would be disproportionately more expensive. Therefore, a well-calculated system that takes additional consumption from the public grid into account is worthwhile.

However, prices for both solar panels and energy storage are falling, making an increase in self-sufficiency based on a profitability calculation increasingly attractive.

Case Study: Successful Implementation of Innovative Storage Systems

The Fraunhofer Institute examined whether the implementation of storage systems could ensure a secure and reliable power supply using only electricity from renewable sources. The study concluded that while extensive and widespread installation of energy storage systems would be necessary, the results were positive. The study also notes that additional measures are essential for the energy transition, such as wall boxes, heat pumps, and intelligent power management. In general, there is no obstacle to this transition, and falling prices in the solar panel and battery storage sectors promote rapid transformation.

Future Outlook: How Storage Technologies Will Change the Energy Landscape

With the significant increase in battery storage in both commercial and private sectors, battery storage in solar energy is becoming increasingly interesting for manufacturers. According to the previously mentioned Fraunhofer Institute for Solar Energy Systems (ISE) study from 2021, 326,048 battery storage units were installed in Germany. About one- third of them were installed in 2021. The trend towards energy independence through solar storage is unmistakable and is likely to expand significantly due to advancements in the battery storage sector, including the demands of electromobility. The majority of solar installations with storage solutions fall into the private sector. Large battery storage units with a capacity of more than 30 kWh currently make up only a very small portion of the annual growth rates.

Both private households and commercial enterprises, affected by events in recent years that have also impacted energy prices, are uncertain and seeking solutions to make their energy costs more predictable and reliable. Storage technology for renewable energy provides precisely these solutions.

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