Solar and battery storage are saving the world

Solar is not only providing the world with cleaner energy, it’s also helping to keep the lights on when bad weather cuts off power from conventional grid systems.

When Hurricane Irma hit the US last year, some Florida homeowners were able to go off-grid by using a combination of rooftop solar and battery storage. The same happened in India during the brutal 2017 monsoon season. And solar panels and energy storage are featuring strongly as Puerto Rico looks to improve the island nation’s resilience after it was devastated by Hurricane Maria.

So, could solar and battery storage help in New Zealand? Figures show power blackouts increased by 36% last year 2017. Back in April over 200,000 properties in Auckland lost power as hurricane-force winds ripped through the city at up to 140 km/h. The Insurance Council says more than 13,000 claims, adding up to over $72 million, were made after that storm.

Dr Kiti Suomalainen of the University of Auckland's Business School believes the impact of that storm might be just the motivation Kiwis need to consider powering their homes with solar and energy storage.

That got us thinking. Imagine if every home in New Zealand was equipped with solar panels and a battery. How much money could that save our country on power cuts? After researching data produced for the Electricity Commission back in 2004, we calculate it would be around $35 million a year.

Obviously, in 2018 that’s a hypothetical scenario, but what does the future hold? Solar had another landmark year in 2017 with the world adding more capacity from solar PV than from any other type of power generating technology. On average, the equivalent of more than 40,000 solar panels was installed every hour of the year.

While the number of NZ homes with rooftop solar is low by international comparisons, we’ve seen uptake increase rapidly from 5,000 to 18,000 in just the last three years. With battery storage extending the benefits of solar, that number is likely to start climbing even faster.

The NZ Herald reports that Transpower estimates 1.5 million homes could have solar systems by 2050 and says that batteries will play an important role in our energy future. Batteries will help New Zealand’s energy infrastructure by reducing the load on the grid at times when there is high demand for electricity.

While other companies are talking about battery storage, we’re making it a standard - and a stand out - feature of our fast-evolving solarZero energy service. And, because it’s a service there are zero product or installation costs.

Adding battery storage helps maximise your use of solar by storing surplus daytime generation so it can be used to power your home at night. The battery is also programmed to buy and use power at times that deliver the best rates for you.

And, of course, there is the backup power feature. When there is a power cut the battery automatically restores power to the hub of your home within seconds. Typically, the battery will back up your kitchen and lounge so that you have lights and can use low energy use appliances like your fridge, computers, router and TV.

Our system uses a hybrid inverter which means the solar panels will continue to power your home and recharge the battery if there’s a power cut during the day.

Solar power and energy storage really is the difference between light and dark.

Click here to find out more about benefits of solarZero with battery storage.