The Rise of Hybrid Solar and Lithium-ion Battery Storage
The solar industry has been going through rapid change and has seen significant innovation over recent years. As a result, solar power systems for home-owners and businesses have become cheaper and more efficient. Possibly one of the biggest innovations has been in the area of lithium-ion battery storage, especially for use in hybrid solar energy systems.
The move away from grid-tied solar
With feed-in tariffs in New Zealand dropping significantly over the last couple of years, consumers are looking at ways to use more of the power they generate, “self-consumption“. There’s now a big incentive to move away from the traditional grid-tied systems which feed energy to and from the grid, to the use of battery storage. Enter the Hybrid Solar System.
What is hybrid solar?
Hybrid solar systems combine the best of grid-tied and off-grid solar systems. It is basically grid-tied solar with battery storage used to store excess power to offset peak load or night time use. This type of system is not usually intended to take a household off-grid, but it has the potential to do so.
With major innovations to inverter and battery technology, we are seeing many consumers move to hybrid solar systems. An existing grid-tied system can upgraded to a hybrid system relatively easily with a hybrid inverter and a solar battery.
The battery storage revolution
At the same time as the cost-effectiveness of feeding to and from the grid has diminished, the cost-effectiveness and efficiency of solar batteries has increased markedly. In the past, battery storage was a limiting factor in hybrid and off-grid solar systems, but now batteries have come of age. According to Peter Detwiler of Forbes magazine, “2015 was a very big year for battery storage in the electricity industry. Numerous storage projects were announced, many start-ups expanded their reach.”
The traditional deep cycle lead-acid batteries are being replaced with more efficient and longer lasting lithium-ion (Li-ion) batteries. Lead-acid batteries have long been used in electric vehicles such as golf carts as they don’t require a long range and the heavy weight of lead-acid batteries is not such a concern. However, with the rapidly growing passenger electric vehicle market, there’s a move to Li-ion battery technology due to the much lighter weight of the battery, as well as many other advantages.
What is a lithium-ion battery and what are its advantages?
Lithium-ion (Li-ion) batteries are widely used in consumer electronics and electric cars due to their lighter weight and high power density. These advantages also make them a viable contender for the renewables energy sector. For example, they are:
- smaller and lighter, meaning they require less space in the home
- able to be recharged faster
- able to be deeply discharged, up to 90% of total capacity, without compromising the life of the battery
- less likely to degrade during charging and discharging, so have a longer life
- pre-wired, reducing installation costs
- able to be safely stored inside without the need for venting systems as they do not expel volatile gases.
Li-ion battery technology prices dropping
Li-ion batteries used to be a more expensive option than lead-acid but technology is changing and many large companies such as Tesla, Bosch, LG and Samsung have entered the Li-ion battery market.
A number of good examples, including those from Triple Power, Sonnen and BYD, have hit our shelves and with this the mainstream market is benefiting from energy storage at an affordable price!
If you would like to know more about solar battery and hybrid solar options, or anything to do installing solar or upgrading your current solar system, please contact our team to discuss your options.