With the Solar Bonus Scheme feedin tariff ending this year, battery technology is stepping in to give household electricity generators more control over how they use their energy. Forget chunky, ugly industrial batteries and think dinky, sleek pieces of hardware that all your solar panel wielding neighbours will envy.
Here's what you need to know:
- The Solar Bonus Scheme feedin tariff ends on 31 December 2016. This means the price that those on the tariff can expect to get from selling their energy to the grid will drop significantly.
- Enter the battery: Instead of selling surplus energy to the grid on unsubsidised tariffs, generators can keep hold of the energy and use it themselves. What this means is that the energy that is generated during the day when solar panels are in full flow can be kept and used at a later time, instead of trickling into the grid at a nominal price.
- The same works for any intermittent power source, not just solar panels. So the electricity from wind turbines can also be plugged into a battery for storage.
- Generators can (and should) be savvy about how they measure, use and distribute the energy they generate. Smart meters can calculate net usage, or measure the gross movements of energy so that usage can be organised in a cost efficient way. For instance, net metering is generally better if all the energy getting generated is used as it's generated, which is kind of the point when a battery is involved.
- And let's not forget carbon emissions using a battery can reduce overall emissions from energy usage because the generator is maximising the amount of energy they use from their own solar panels, rather than buying energy from the grid.