Energy breakthrough: Battery power could fuel our homes thanks to Good Energy
It could be the biggest breakthrough in the way we power our homes since oil lamps were replaced by light bulbs, and a West firm is at the forefront of testing out just how good it will be.
Will Vooght of Chippenham-based Good Energy demonstrates the size of the batteries
Wiltshire-based Good has a series of new lithium batteries that have been installed in homes around the region with solar panels on the roof, and they are busy rewriting the future of our society's energy use.
Last week, electric car maker Tesla unveiled it was developing a battery-powered home with a new generation of smaller battery units that could store the power created by solar panels or mini wind-turbines.
That has long been the Holy Grail of renewable energy because it would mean it could be possible to overcome the biggest problem with solar panels – that they create energy during the day when the sun shines, but we use the most energy in the evenings ater dark, this has been the biggest problem, and what happens is that people with solar panels on the roof send that energy into the National Grid and then use energy off the grid when they get home from work in the evening," said Will Vooght, the head of innovation at the Chippenham-based Good Energy.
"People have had batteries to harness the power they generate, but they were traditional things based on the kind of technology in a car battery. So they had to be huge – people had entire rooms filled with them or outbuildings or , and it just is not viable for most homes.
"But these batteries we are trialling are lithium batteries, like your mobile phone, and they can be much smaller. "We're talking rather than an entire room filled with batteries, this is something that will fit under your stairs," he added.
Good Energy is one of Britain's biggest renewable energy companies, and has picked a 'select few' of the 76,000 homes with solar panels it works with, to install the new batteries, which have been developed by new tech firm Moixa.
"It would be brilliant if it is really able to save energy for later, this would mean you wouldn't have to have a massive roof to make solar panels worthwhile, if you could store the energy from a smaller one to use later. We're not so much looking at the economics of it at the moment, more at the consumer engagement, whether it is viable in people's lives. The customer should be at the heart of it, because there is no point if people aren't going to want this.
"The potential is there that instead of selling energy back to the grid because you are not there to use it, you can keep it for yourself and be self-sufficient.
"Seeing Tesla announce theirs and with us doing this, it is incredibly exciting. People who are looking to of energy do recognise the potential significance of this breakthrough, and there will be more announcements like these, as we improve on the technology even more," he added.
Tesla's announcement that it would go into production on batteries has had a big impact in the US, where many consumers are off 'the grid' in remote corners of America. Tesla's chief executive Elon Musk said the batteries could also serve as a back-up system during blackouts.