With many organisations looking to boost their sustainability, and achieve ambitious net zero goals, there’s a clear and growing interest in renewable energy. And the current price volatility and insecurity in energy supply is only accelerating this change.
Solar power is one way to generate renewable energy at your site. It’s clean and reliable, and only needs roof space or available land. But the day/night cycle, and interchangeable weather, creates gaps in solar energy generation, which means you may have to buy energy from other sources to compensate . This can be costly, and a lot less sustainable than using renewable energy all the time.
There is, however, a solution. Storing the excess solar energy you generate during the day, means you can use it even when the sun isn’t shining.
How to store commercial solar energy
There are three main ways to store solar energy – mechanical, thermal, and battery storage.
Mechanical storage uses potential energy, such as compressed air, which can be converted back to electricity later. And thermal storage uses a medium, like water, to absorb and retain heat until needed.
But the most common way to store solar energy is with batteries. These use a chemical reaction to lock energy away until it’s needed.
Advantages of commercial solar battery storage
Greater energy security
Having your own energy supply, generated and stored on site, means you are less reliant on the National Grid. Your organisation is therefore better protected from hefty price rises, power cuts and other fluctuations in supply.
A back-up battery supply also means you’ll have fewer gaps that need to be filled with energy bought in from external sources. It will save your organisation money and help you get to your sustainability and net zero targets faster.
Cheaper rates for excess energy
You may still need to buy in energy if your generation slows or you need more power than usual for a particular project. But, by having on-site battery storage, you can buy energy when rates are at their cheapest – and when it’s most sustainable – and store it until you need it.
Revenue generation from the National Grid
You can generate revenue from any stored energy, that you don’t use, with a National Grid service contract.
As well as selling any excess energy back to the Grid, you can also sell battery storage capacity. However, these contracts can be slow to agree and shouldn’t be your sole reason for investing in battery storage. Instead, see them as an added extra, alongside the main benefits of better sustainability and energy security.
Solar storage myths busted
You may be wondering why every organisation doesn’t just add a battery to their solar energy system. There are three main reasons: upfront cost, added complexity and extra maintenance.
Solar storage is expensive
It’s true that adding commercial solar energy batteries to your solar energy system means investing in extra infrastructure. And during times of economic uncertainty, it can be hard to justify any large expenditure. However, by looking at your energy consumption you may find a battery storage system will produce huge savings in the long term. It could more than pay for itself when security of supply is a concern and energy price rises show no signs of slowing.
Batteries make things more complicated
Like adding extra components to any system, solar battery storage will add an extra layer of complexity to your solar energy system. They need to be the right size, in an appropriate location and properly connected. All these affect both the design and installation of your solar infrastructure. And, once installed solar battery storage requires little maintenance or ongoing costs.
Solar storage systems are difficult to look after
A battery system also has its own maintenance requirements which need to be met. Some more traditional batteries contain corrosive, toxic chemicals, and they must be kept clean and topped up with the right solution. However, most modern systems use lithium-ion batteries, which are much safer, hardly need any maintenance, and mean there is less to worry about.
The right specialist partner can take on the complexity for you and guide you through the process from start to finish. Use their expertise to make sure your system is both designed, installed and maintained, for the best performance.
A solar battery success story
Large sites are already investing in commercial solar energy batteries to improve energy security and reduce their environmental impact.
Portsmouth International Port is one of them. In its quest to become the UK’s first net zero carbon port, the city council decided to install a ground-breaking solar and battery system.
Portsmouth City Council took on its solar project with Custom Solar, a Mitie company. So, the city council was confident it had an expert partner that offered knowledge and support throughout the entire journey.
Since February 2022, the port has installed 2660 solar panels. That’s enough to power around 35% of the site. And smaller ships can use it for shore power, so they don’t need to take energy from the Grid.
The project will use a battery, with a capacity of 1.5 megawatt hours , to store extra energy from the site’s solar PV system for later use. Portsmouth City Council expect the combination of solar PV and battery storage to provide 98% of the port’s power at peak times, once complete.
Add storage to your solar system
At Mitie, we’re committed to helping you secure your energy supply and deliver on your net zero targets. Our end-to-end services cover design, installation and maintenance of your renewable energy systems.
Our specialist Plan Zero teams are helping the UK reach net zero with commercial electricity connections, onsite power generation and battery services. We’ll make sure you see a return on your investment and save costs.
To find out more about adding battery storage to your organisation’s solar energy system, or to discuss your site’s specific requirements, contact us today.
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