Effective and increased usage of residential sustainable generated energy (mainly due to solar panels) eventually requires home or neighbourhood storage facilities. It’s a subject which we have been focusing on for many years.
According to the latest report of Solar Power Europe – European Market Outlook for Residential Battery Storage 2021-2025:“ In 2020, around 140,000 household battery systems with a combined storage capacity over 1 GWh were installed in Europe”. A remarkable achievement !
Another important quote from the report: “In the Netherlands no major changes are bound to happen in the near future. Here, the net-metering regulation for residential PV systems is still the most important barrier for self-consumption through batteries and will remain fully in force until 2023.” In our opinion the financial preconditions in The Netherlands needs to be tweaked to accommodate better and more sustainability components in order to meet the national climate targets. We realise that discussions on this subject are ongoing and that certain changes can be expected, but how soon? (re. also: https://www.aarten-es.com/blog-post/acm-transmission-tariffs-cannot-be-an-impediment-to-the-construction-of-power-storages/).
The report “European Market Outlook for Residential Battery Storage 2021-2025” also shows some interesting insights into the future cost developments. We expect battery manufacturing costs to reduce further, particularly if the actual installed numbers increase.
Let’s learn from the German experience. As mentioned in our blog “The Sustainable Home: providing insights into various possibilities”, featuring amongst other, Zonatlas, it’s very important to provide useful insights to homeowners so they can assess what the potential of electricity storage can bring to them. Zonatlas works very closely with German based tetraeder.solar, and therefore brings German experience into the Netherlands. (re. https://www.aarten-es.com/blog-post/the-sustainable-home-providing-insights-into-various-possibilities/).
In summary: this very relevant report, with a broad focus, issued by the international organisation Solar Power Europe, once again shows the various current possibilities to accelerate the energy transition. For further details, please click here.
Much is written about the desired sustainability steps in our home or business space. Many owners are already doing well individually; others tackle the actions collectively. But apart from the approach, insights are first needed into the possibilities and the cost consequences. But where do we get the information from? And which sources of information can we trust?
This article focuses on the situation in The Netherlands, but the experiences can obviously be applied elsewhere.
Frequently Asked Questions
What can we do now, and what later? After all, the ultimate heat supply must also fit into the local/municipal development plans. The last thing any individual homeowner wants to do is invest uselessly. For example: will the natural gas network continue to exist and will we eventually switch to green gas and/or hydrogen? Or is the heating of our building completely realised without the use of natural gas and/or sustainable gases, and what are those options? What about the connection to a nearby heat network? Can we already install a hybrid heat pump, because the savings in natural gas consumption and the resulting cost reductions are already such that a good and affordable sustainability step can be taken, regardless of what the future local/municipal situation will be?
And then there are the questions about the degree of technological development (is the device well developed and will it not cause unnecessary malfunctions) and the associated costs. The positive development of solar panels over the past 20 years shows an enormous improvement in performance and reliability and cost reductions.
Municipal Plans in the Netherlands
The municipal plans will be formulated in a so-called Local Energy Strategy (LES), which will have a close relationship with the Regional Energy Strategy (RES). So it is important to request this information via the relevant municipal website. This gives an idea of the plans for the next 10-20 years. However, regardless of these municipal visions, it always pays to start implementing energy-saving measures as soon as possible (e.g. apply insulation where possible, but consider good ventilation; HR++ glass or better; energy-efficient household appliances). Furthermore, it is always smart to install solar panels where possible.
In this context, we would therefore like to refer to “Zonatlas.nl” and “Warmtepompplein.nl” respectively, which currently makes certain information freely available to individual house/building owners in The Netherlands. Please note: Zonatlas.nl = Solar energy information platform. Warmtepompplein.nl = Information portal on heat pumps.
Solar energy – information via Zonatlas.nl
Via Zonatlas, an individual homeowner or company in The Netherlands can easily see for themselves what the electricity generation potential of the property is by means of solar panels. Re. link: https://www.zonatlas.nl/start/
Note: Zonatlas has calculated and mapped the suitability of almost all roofs in the Netherlands. By using, among other things, height data, multi-year weather data, and intensity calculation of solar radiation, the inclination angle(s), orientation points relative to the sun, shadow areas and even more technical data are combined to calculate the solar energy yield of a roof. And accurate to 30cm! Zonatlas has mapped out the solar energy yield of more than 13 million buildings in the Netherlands.
Furthermore, Zonatlas offers additional information if the Dutch municipality, to which the specified postcode with house number belongs, has a membership on Zonatlas. We will give 2 examples in this regard. (1) On the Zonatlas-website one can ‘turn on’ a home battery and see what the effects are. We have already pointed out the importance of home or neighbourhood batteries in separate blogs. Re. link: https://www.aarten-es.com/language/en/news-storage/. The battery developments will be much needed to accelerate the transition in an effective and affordable way. (2) One can also examine the effects of heat generation, of the energy generated by solar collectors/solar boiler.
Another development, available on request, focuses on providing insight into the effects of connecting an electric car to the home solar panel system.
Heat supply – information via Warmtepompplein.nl
With Warmtepompplein.nl, an individual homeowner or company in The Netherlands can discover which heat pump fits best. Re. link: https://warmtepompplein.nl/quickscan/. By entering postal code and house number, one will receive advice for an all-electric and hybrid air-water heat pump. Note. This tool is based on the formulas described in ISSO 51 (Standard Heat Loss Calculation). A heat pump does require electricity, which in turn can be partially or fully compensated by installing (extra) solar panels. Therefore, the link with Zonatlas is important.
Providing more insights through an integrated/holistic approach
The writer of this blog has permission to state here that ‘behind the scenes of Zonatlas and Warmtepompplein’, significant work is being done to link the various sustainability components together in a smart way, so good insights into the sustainability options of one’s own building can be obtained in a simple and effective manner. However, the available tools already provide a good insight!
The importance of applying significant focus on the actual implementation of energy storage as part of smart energy transition solutions.
A relevant quote from the report produced by SolarPower Europe ‘European Market Outlook For Residential Battery Storage 2020–2024’: “Last year, 745 MWh from 96,000 systems were installed, representing a 57% annual growth rate. The foundation for the European residential BESS sector was laid by a handful of countries, where a large residential solar market already, exists – namely Germany, Italy, UK, Austria, and Switzerland. These Top 5 markets absorbed over 90% of all BESS installations in 2019 and are also responsible for a similar level of the nearly 2 GWh of operating residential storage capacity in Europe so far.”. (Note: BESS stands for Battery Energy Storage Systems).
Please refer to the information accessible via the link by clicking here. The analyses and forecasts are a ‘must read’ for all working in the energy transition field.
The abovementioned report fully supports the developments and implementation success experienced elsewhere, by for example iwell; please refer to their website.
Another good example worth exploring, is the independent Dutch solar platform Zonatlas NL, freely accessible for individual households and individual business (e.g. SME). Zonatlas has for several regions in the Netherlands an on-line battery storage option available in case an individual household wants to make a connection with the energy generated by solar panels – please refer to the following website for more information: https://www.zonatlas.nl/start/
The author of this blog as well as the Dutch companies EnShared and Zonatlas made a contribution to the Position paper ‘Virtual Energy Plants through Energy Commons’, which was recently issued by the independent foundation Future Energy Systems – please refer to: https://fes.institute/en/position-paper/. Energy storage prominently features in this Paper, as it is an essential component in creating virtual energy plants. And when, for example, sufficient storage capacity is connected to the micro-grid, self-balancing and the trading of stored electricity can also be exploited. These storage systems provide another important form of flexibility to the market and will gain greater public interest as the share of renewables increases.
IEA World Energy Outlook 2020 clearly states: “Solar becomes the new king of electricity…..”. This makes the role of storage more important for affordable and reliable energy systems in the near future.
For further information, please click here, but the following quotes from IEA’s WEO 2020 are worth mentioning here:
“Renewables grow rapidly in all our scenarios, with solar at the centre of this new constellation of electricity generation technologies. Supportive policies and maturing technologies are enabling very cheap access to capital in leading markets. With sharp cost reductions over the past decade, solar PV is consistently cheaper than new coal- or gas fired power plants in most countries, and solar projects now offer some of the lowest cost electricity ever seen.”.
“Storage plays an increasingly vital role in ensuring the flexible operation of power systems, with India becoming the largest market for utility-scale battery storage.”.
In the Netherlands many realise that the current and past tax and subsidy regime hasn’t really supported the large scale implementation of energy storage to date. Nevertheless, we observe good examples of implementation in for example apartment buildings where a smart battery system significantly lowers the peaks in the power supply resulting from the elevator usages.
It’ll be obvious that in the Netherlands we should focus more and more on the smart introduction of battery and energy storage systems.
We will continue to write about future developments.
A Virtual Energy Plant through an Energy Common is a network of local small- and medium scale power and heat generating units such as wind farms, solar parks, and Combined Heat and Power (CHP) units, as well as flexible energy consumers and storage systems. The interconnected units are dispatched through an automated central ‘control room’ of the Energy Common thereby remaining independent in their operation and ownership. The objective of a community based Virtual Power Plant is twofold. First, it needs to generate enough renewable energy for the local community. Secondly it should relieve the load on the electricity grid by smartly distributing the power generated by the individual units during periods of peak load. In case of a surplus, the combined power generation and power consumption of the networked units in the Virtual Energy Plant can be traded on the energy exchange.
In any case, it confirms our position that sufficient transparency and independent information is required for residents (owners and/or tenants) to be able to make good choices.
EnShared and Zonatlas are therefore affiliated and active with the national Coalition ‘Samen Duurzaam Doen” (translated: Doing Sustainability Together), and they work closely with the “Institute for Future of Living” (https://instituteforfutureofliving.org/).
The technological development of new generation solar panels is making great leaps forward. Think of solar cells in roof tiles, windows that generate solar energy or flexible solar panels on various rooftop surfaces. All these techniques are developing rapidly.
The facades of buildings can also generate solar energy. The technology behind this type of solar modules is currently under development. Zonatlas can put her advanced software to use and calculate the potential of solar energy on building facades. Similar to what Zonatlas has already done for all the rooftops in the Netherlands.
Ready for the future
Although lots of rooftops can provide a sufficient source of solar energy for most consumers, there are a high number of buildings that cannot. If you look at big cities, there are big apartment buildings or offices that have large surface areas on their facades, but a (relatively) small roof. To cover their energy needs in the future, we might also need to start using the facades of these buildings.
One of the partners of Zonatlas participated in a pilot to calculate all the buildings in the city of Senne (Germany). This pilot concluded that facades could harvest twice the amount of solar energy as all the rooftops combined. This relates mostly to cities, and therefore the potential is huge!
The calculations that have already been done are making use of a 360° analysis of all the buildings. The technology of Zonatlas makes it possible to then view the entire building in 3D. Similar to what Zonatlas does with individual rooftops, the effect of shades and obstructions that might influence the solar yield will be calculated.
In Senne (Germany) the calculations showed that about 20% of the facades are suited for solar modules. When you take into consideration that buildings most often only have one side with an optimal position towards sun, this percentage is higher than anticipated.
Next step of Zonatlas
Because Zonatlas calculated all the rooftops in the Netherlands, its logical next step is to calculate the facades of all buildings in the Netherlands. Municipalities and their inhabitants make frequent use of Zonatlas in finding their optimal solar installation. Due to the independent insight provided by Zonatlas, both consumers and companies can soon start to think about using not only their roofs, but also their facades for generating solar energy.