“The main opportunity we forecast for the future is being self-sufficient,” said Jason Kirrage, technical marketing manager at SolarEdge during a webinar hosted by Current± this morning (18 January).
“That’s where I thought people are going years ago. When we had a tariff, people were interested in selling their electricity back to the grid. Now, times have changed and people becoming self-sufficient.”
Solar, as a technology, could be a crucial gateway into securing self-sufficiency for households. But this also comes with its own issues. That is why battery energy storage is also touted as a means to complement the solar technology to create what is known as a “micro-grid”.
The “secret”, as put by Kirrage, is combining these technologies. “The secret to it would be to install as much PV [photovoltaics] on your roof as you possibly can and install as big a battery as you possibly can to harness all that energy and use it for your own needs, and also use it for a DFS [Demand Flexibility Service] scheme,” Kirrage added.
Over the course of the previous year, we have seen a number of initiatives aiming to combine these. Perhaps the most notable to our audience is Octopus Energy who struck several deals with major housebuilders to incorporate solar, battery storage and heat pumps to create what it dubbed ‘Zero Bills’ homes.
Turning our attention back to today’s webinar, Kirrage touched on yet another low-carbon technology which could prove a pivotal role in the energy transition – heat pumps.
“We’ve got these various innovation grants for insulation and for installing solar PV, you’ve also got them for installing heat pumps and [technologies] like that. That’s where the future is going, it’s going to make your home as efficient as possible,” Kirrage said.
“Heat pumps are going to become more of a viable product to install in your home, you need to do some serious thinking about it. But you can do it. I see the future in the UK as harnessing everything, whereas other regions that have a lot of sunshine would heat their water in a different way. We don’t have that joy, unfortunately.”
Heat pumps have been growing in popularity in the UK mainly through government incentives. In an announcement made in October 2023, the government increased the Boiler Upgrade Scheme grant from £5,000 to £7,500 making the technology cheaper to install in comparison to a gas boiler.
During the webinar, Kirrage was prompted as to whether the price to sell energy back to the grid would increase or decrease in the future. Kirrage believes that dynamic tariffs and the demand flexibility scheme will make it a “very viable proposition” to look at.
As more and more renewable technologies are installed in peoples’ homes, the question of safety continues to be brought up. Kirrage said that solar is very much safe in homes but “must be installed correctly”. He also mentioned that any technology can also become safer referencing the creation of the seat belt for vehicles.
Optimisers can play a hand in safety. “Unlike traditional technology, we’re able to control the power optimiser shut the power off, optimise it down to a default setting of safe DC,” Kirrage said.
“The optimisers we have now, have sensors connecting them which detect a build-up in temperature and again, stop the optimiser from flowing electricity through a connector which reduces the possibility of an arc.”