Electricity continues to be a huge problem in our country during the pandemic, where further load shedding is being experienced due to cable theft.
This not only impacts the residential sector, but also both the commercial and industrial power users. A solution to alleviate the lack of security of supply is by installing solar panels and batteries at businesses or households, especially at essential services such as hospitals where power is needed the most. Given the impact of the pandemic, hospitals need constant power to ensure patient’s care.
Solar panels coupled with a battery storage solution provides a good alternative for the medical fraternity. Such an installation results in reduced consumption of grid power, yielding immediate savings through a lower monthly electricity bill.
“These solutions are designed to feed directly into your grid partially displacing your municipal power with cheaper, greener energy. These systems are therefore designed to save you money, however, they do not typically have the ability to function as standalone systems during a blackout/loadshedding as it does not include battery/storage technologies,” says Head of Engineer, Gabriel Kroes. “Battery storage or generator integration would need to be added to enable the technology to function during a blackout.”
Batteries are useful in the following scenarios:
1. Curtailment Reduction/Deferral: Storing excess generation so that you can use it when you need it (if you have excess generation).
2. Arbitrage: Displacing “peak” energy consumption and therefore, peak energy costs. Basically swopping out solar energy or even cheap “off peak” grid energy for “peak” grid energy, so that you can benefit from the cheaper tariff. This is called energy arbitrage. Simple example is to charge the battery at let’s say R1 per kWh during off peak times and then to discharge this energy during peak times when energy charges would have been R2.50 per kWh. In this case, you are saving R1.5 per kWh for the energy that flows through the battery.
3. Backup: providing electricity when the grid is off. This is very similar to mini or micro-grid solutions where the solar PV and battery system operates as a “stand-alone” energy supplier to the off-taker. Usually to save costs, these systems are only designed to provide power to essential loads such as emergency lighting, security, servers.