Easing pressure on the grid: the potential of solar batteries

Research shows that the more people take up the opportunity to install solar batteries, the less reliant we’ll be on the power grid.  

Energy
5 min read
As more households switch to solar, what difference could solar batteries make?

Have you ever wondered just how much impact initiatives like state government solar schemes can have on the electricity grid? The Victorian Solar Homes Program, for example, offers eligible households a rebate to install solar panels, solar hot water systems or solar batteries. And research shows that the more people take up the opportunity to install solar batteries, the less reliant we’ll be on the grid 

The benefits of solar batteries

Traditionally, energy generated from solar systems must be used straight away. That means we still need to draw power from the grid when the sun goes down. However, as solar batteries become more popular and affordable, households can store solar energy in batteries and use it when it’s needed the most.  

Storing energy generated by the sun in daylight hours to use at night may help to lower household energy bills.

And research shows it also has the potential to ease the pressure on distribution networks. 

Making the switch

As a long-term advocate of solar batteries in homes, we were happy to participate in a  2020 study by RMIT University to investigate the impact of batteries on low voltage grid conditions. Using 12 months of AGL and other providers’ residential battery operational data, the team at RMIT University investigated how grid conditions might change as more batteries are installed in more households. 

The study, supported by the Centre for New Energy Technologies (C4NET) and Victorian Department of Environment, Land, Water and Planning (DELWP), showed batteries can improve distribution networks by acting as a natural ‘firming’ resource. This is done by making use of excess daytime solar and reducing evening peaks.  

Key results from the study

  • Peak evening power imports (around 6 pm to 10 pm) from the grid were reduced by 60% on mild temperature days, for houses with solar batteries. 
  • Household solar batteries reduced PV export by at least 20% in peak sun hours on days where the temperature is less than 30˚C, helping balance the generation from rooftop PV systems, and potentially enhancing network hosting capacity. 

The study also found that coordination of battery operation – such as with a Virtual Power Plant – could provide network support and help maintain a smoothly operating network. As an operator of one of the world’s largest retail-led Virtual Power Plant, it’s encouraging to learn our customers are contributing to improving energy conditions around Australia.

With residential batteries still a relatively new technology, there’s still a lot to learn – but it’s exciting to understand their potential in Australia’s sustainable energy future.

Rooftop of an Adelaide VPP customer home, 2021

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