Homeowner Blog

Smart Solar Homes May Eliminate Peak Demand

George Riley 29 Jul 2020

Recently the Solar Trade Association (STA) published a report modelling the impact of solar PV, battery storage and smart home controls on the UK’s electricity supply and demand. In particular it examines how these technologies can help balance the grid as it becomes ever more complex and under pressure.

We’re going to dig into how solar PV can integrate with smart homes to reduce or even eliminate peak demand.

What is a smart home?

A smart home is the idea of connecting devices and systems around the house, usually via the internet, so they can interact with a degree of autonomy. This can include everything from smart lights, TVs, speakers and kettles to renewable generators and battery storage systems.

In the STA report, smart solar homes are classified by different generations based on the systems they have:

Smart home generation

Solar

Battery

Smart controls

EV + electric heating

0

       

1

     

2

   

3

 

4

 

Aside from the convenience of smart devices (remote door locking, security alerts, personalised entertainment), many can also make your home more energy efficient, through automating lighting, heating and other appliances. With solar, a smart home could run your washing machine when it’s sunniest or charge up your battery backup when a storm is forecasted.

What is peak demand and why is it a problem?

As the UK grid has become cleaner and greener, more of its power comes from decentralised, intermittent micro-generators. But we are also becoming more dependent on electricity for our homes, businesses, heating and transport. Because of this, the gap between supply and demand is narrowing, especially at peak points in the day and year.

Domestic electricity demand

Data source: Elexon.

As you can see, there are typically demand spikes in the morning (when people get up) and evening (when people get back from work). These are more pronounced in the colder months, when we spend more time indoors with heat, lights etc.

To combat the closing gap between demand and supply we can do three things:

  • reduce demand through energy efficiency;
  • install more generators (in particular, close to where they’re needed to minimise transmission losses);
  • distribute energy demand more evenly across the day to reduce the peaks.

How can smart homes help and how many do we need?

Smart home controls can respond to signals such as half-hourly prices on a time-of-use tariff: charging a battery when grid prices are low, using that power when prices are high.

They could also respond to stress on the grid - when national demand is high. The home could use more energy from the battery at times of peak demand, reducing pressure on the grid and dependence on fossil fuel plants (which are often switched on at peak times). Increased flexibility will also allow homes to absorb excess renewable power when more is generated on the grid than needed, preventing those systems from being turned down or off.

The STA report finds that a generation 3 smart home can reduce its demand for imported energy at peak times (4-7pm) by 97%, across the year:

Average import reduction from 4-7pm

Monthly Household Peak Shaving Generation 3

Source: STA.

The STA estimates the UK would need 4.4 million generation 3 smart solar homes connected to the grid to offer sufficient flexibility and eliminate most of the peak demand. Besides the financial benefits for those homeowners, the flexibility would allow us to scale up the number of renewable generators on the grid at a rapid pace.

Winter peak shaving

Source: STA.

How Spirit can help make your home smart

Part of our company’s mission is to empower homeowners to generate and store their own energy, creating a distributed grid. Electricity is generated where it is needed, reducing transmission losses.

We specialise in solar PV and battery storage, which are essential components of the smart homes that can bring much needed flexibility to the UK’s power network.

Over the last 10 years, we’ve commissioned almost 3,000 systems across the country:

Spirit install map

(Please note that our service area has changed since we were founded, and we sometimes travel further for larger projects.)

If you’d like to learn more about becoming more energy independent with solar PV and home batteries, please give us a call on 0118 951 4490 or download our free guide to domestic solar:

Download now

Topics: Battery storage, EV charging, Solar PV

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