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Energy storage: It’s been a long time coming

Fri, 06/06/2014 - 13:07 -- gerry@bestmag.co.uk

It’s been a long time coming: this ‘energy storage’ malarkey. But visitors to this year’s Intersolar in Munich were in for a treat— a whole hall dedicated to the stuff. The Germans have been big on solar (in all its forms) for years, but lets be honest: None of the PV power coming out of the inverters on any German roof has been despatchable and the same is true for the Brits who’ve been coerced into taking a subsidy from the state to put solar on their roofs as well. It's electricity nobody can use.

Some smarter folk with money and technical know-how have managed to lash up their own residential storage with lead acid batteries and primitive control systems, raising two fingers to greedy, complacent utilities who hold them to ransom with ever steeper energy charges.

Germans, with their “Green” principles and mothballed nuclear plants, pay some of the highest costs for electricity in the world. But thanks to the Government driven 'Energiewende' programme and €30m of grants, quite a few German firms have come up with a complete solution.

One Belgian company (Leclanche) has completely re-invented itself on the back of the idea — a scalable battery system, battery management box and a purpose made tie-in that enable the user to intergrate their wind, solar and (God forbid) grid-connected supplies. Cost of ownership? Maybe just €8,000 if you’ve got solar on your roof already. Over 20 years and increasing electricity costs, it’s a decent payback.

Of course buying such a system may not be as easy as say, buying a hybrid car because the players are still building installer networks, but some players looked ahead of the game.

This writer was completely awed by Samsung, whose exhibition stand was so customer focused, a five year old would have understood the message — lead is dead (sorry guys), lithium-ion is so much better and we can offer you a beautiful slimline storage system you can hang on your wall. And you can control with an App no doubt, from your Galaxy phone?

Now when it’s got this much styling, you can safely say domestic energy storage has come of age. And if we see Apple here next year, you’ll know I’m right!