Retrofitting batteries on existing PV systems

The ending of the UK government’s main renewable energy support scheme in April 2019 might, in most circumstances, be expected to provide a serious blow to the UK’s renewable energy hopes. Except that it could also be just what is needed to provide battery storage systems with the necessary boost to its own hitherto flagging prospects. The feed-in tariff (FiT) subsidy started in April 2010 with a view to providing a cushion to the otherwise erratic price swings of solar power. Now with government subsidies on new residential PV systems about to be removed entirely, users are scrabbling about for ways in which to maximise the benefits of solar PV in order to make the most of their investment. And the solution could well be retrofitted battery storage.

Traditional PV plant designs made it hard to integrate battery storage as a retrofit option. However, a number of companies are coming up with cost effective technological solutions. Solar PV battery storage has been a long time coming. Earlier attempts at entering the market though often foundered on the high price brackets, lack of demand and the support provided by FiT. But the time could well be ripe for battery storage that has been steadily developing, to step up to the plate and flourish.

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Waxman Energy, part of the Waxman Group and one of the UK’s largest distributors of PV modules, inverters, battery storage and mounting systems, says that the benefits of retrofit PV battery storage are substantial, even for those consumers that currently benefit from the UK’s FiT support scheme. “Users who have already got solar PV installed will undoubtedly be getting a better FiT rate than newcomers, so battery storage means that they can get more for their money by saving on bills while still earning favourable financial instalments for the energy they generate,” it says.

In sunny Australia, meanwhile, retrofitting battery storage to an existing solar PV system is already seen as a serious option, as opposed to installing an entirely new solar plus battery storage system. As with the UK, a number of states in Australia (led by New South Wales) have either removed or are re-examining their solar FiT schemes. As a consequence, Australia’s solar and battery industry comparison service, Solar Choice Pty Ltd, now expects the number of Australian homes that will install battery storage in the coming years to rise significantly with many opting to retrofit batteries onto a pre-existing system.

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