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Solar PV and Battery Storage: the perfect mix for powering your energy efficiency and resilience

Five reasons why you should combine solar PV with battery storage

The sharp drop in costs of solar photovoltaic (PV) technology in the last couple of years is widely opening access to this technology, as evidenced by the prolific and increasing pipeline of projects seen worldwide. Customers of different sizes are improving their energy efficiency by self-consuming onsite solar PV generation, but the benefits of this clean energy are not fully exploited due to its temporal inflexibility, i.e. solar PV generated energy cannot be used when it is most valuable.

By combining Solar PV with Battery Storage to create hybrid renewable systems, organisations are benefiting from considerable and strong cost returns and unlocking new revenue opportunities, while improving their energy efficiency and resilience, and reducing their carbon footprint.

Falling costs and advancements in battery technology are increasing the affordability, durability and performance of battery storage. When co-located with solar, the commercial viability and wider benefits of both energy solutions are boosted.

Solar and batteries make a natural and effective energy mix. We examine the five key benefits of combining these technologies:

1. Improve energy resilience

You can protect your site against the increasing number of energy-related failures observed in the grid by instantly switching on your off-grid battery stored solar power in the event of any disruption in your energy supply. In a fraction of a second, you can gain access to a carbon-free power supply to keep critical processes and equipment operational, ensuring the continuity of your business, even during a prolonged energy outage.

Businesses should factor in the potential financial and wider business savings of solar + battery energy resilience. The consequences of even the briefest power interruption in terms of damage to equipment, financial loss and inventory are serious. Our recent energy resilience report showed that 30% of our respondents had experienced energy disruptions which resulted in lost revenue. 23% reported equipment damage and 9% reported a drop in company value.

Solar + battery solutions can also add another tier of emergency power for critical facilities, such as hospitals and data centres. In other instances, batteries may replace traditional back-up generators.

2. Increase the value of solar

Solar is a plentiful and green resource for generating renewable electricity  during daytime. Our experience shows that by storing surplus solar generated electricity during this time and then using it flexibly and efficiently at times of low generation or peak demand, businesses can improve their financial performance NPV (net present value) from solar by an average 30-40% – sometimes even more.

This directly translates into increased sustainability and cost saving benefits from using more renewable energy and less expensive fossil-fuel energy. Consequently, it improves the return on investment of both the solar PV and battery, and can significantly increase the commercial viability of solar investment in the absence of subsidies and exposure to highly volatile wholesale energy markets.

3. Reduce energy costs

By using hybrid solar + battery renewable systems, you can charge your battery at off-peak times and also at zero marginal cost when the sun is shining, to then utilise the stored energy at times when prices peak. This strategy can deliver huge cost savings, particularly if stored solar and cheap grid energy is used during red-band DUoS and Triad periods. Centrica Business Solutions' world leading forecasting capabilities enable us to accurately analyse and predict the highest cost periods to ensure that our customers can switch to battery power at the most opportune and valuable times.

4. Earn revenue from storage flexibility

The commercial case for solar + battery hybrids is strengthened because of the potential to earn income via commercialising available storage flexibility.  The ultra-fast response time of modern battery technologies makes them ideal for lucrative grid support services, such as dynamic Firm Frequency Response (dFFR), which requires a two-second response time. Our patented Virtual Power Plant technology can help you capture up to 52% more value from dynamic FFR.

In addition, businesses might benefit from the capacity market, which remunerates assets for being available to be dispatched at times of high system stress. There's an additional opportunity to participate in the imbalance market, which serves the purpose of settling the imbalances between demand and supply. 

5. Reduce carbon emissions and contribute to the integration of renewables

By improving the utilisation of available on-site solar generated energy, battery storage contributes to lowering carbon emissions by reducing reliance on fossil fuelled conventional generation. This helps improve your environmental compliance and reduce green tax liabilities, while building a positive reputation for green leadership.

Solar and Battery Storage in Action at The Olde House, Cornwall

A pioneering project that features a 250kW solar PV array coupled with a 90kW/1MWh Vanadium Redox Flow Battery at The Olde House farm and holiday retreat, in Cornwall, is fully operational and connected to the grid – as part of the Centrica Local Energy Market Project. 

This is the largest flow battery storage commercial system deployed and operating in the UK to date. Our partnership with flow battery energy storage technology company redT energy is enabling the hybrid renewable system, installed at The Olde House, to be used as a flexible platform. This is dramatically increasing solar utilisation and lowering energy costs during peak evening times when there is high electricity demand from visitors. The system has successfully reduced peak time grid imports by up to 50%, which has translated into big cost savings for the customer.

Supporting your Solar and Battery Storage project

Centrica Business Solutions is leading the way in designing, delivering, operating and optimising solar + battery storage solutions for UK businesses. This includes the construction of one of the world’s largest commercial storage battery at Roosecote  (49MW). Our multi-purpose energy storage solutions, using Lithium-Ion or Flow battery technology, can help your business increase energy resilience and efficiency, reduce rising costs and minimise carbon emission.