S&C Electric, a leading smart grid and energy storage company based out of Chicago, is starting work on a pilot project that will store solar energy using lithium-ion batteries. The £200,000 project will involve a 75kW lithium-ion battery system at an “eco-home project” in an undisclosed location.
“The average home uses around 1.5kW of electricity so the battery should provide power for around 50 homes in the development,” Andrew Jones, managing director for S&C Electric Europe, said. “The system can also control how you feed energy back to the grid. Without that control you would have to dig up the road and add cables to export the unused solar power.”
As energy storage costs (especially li-ion battery costs) drop, energy storage combined with increasingly cheap solar power becomes more and more attractive. I have the feeling this pilot project is the start of something big. Of course, S&C Electric is hopeful it is as well, but it is also pushing for increased policy support for energy storage to push this possibility forward.
“One of the challenges for energy storage is there are not the clear market signals for firms to invest in the technology and bring the costs down…. There needs to be a signal from policymakers to show storage firms the market will be there if they invest in bringing costs down.”
As we’ve written previously, there has been a push to get an energy storage act implemented in the U.S. If it were, the energy storage market would expand at a much faster rate and costs would come down more quickly (as they have for solar and wind power). However, as with anything energy related these days, grid lock in Congress is preventing anything good from happening at the moment.
Meanwhile, projects like the one above and like the new largest energy storage station in the world (a BYD project in China), keep the sector moving forward and keep providing us with optimistic news to pass on to you.