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A brighter future for buildings: battery energy storage and solar

Solar remains a high priority for organisations as they seek to decarbonise their buildings.

15/01/2024

Connected Energy looks at the latest trends in solar for commercial premises – and how it fits in with battery energy storage systems.

Is now the right time for a business to invest in solar?

Installing solar represents a win-win for facilities managers tasked with reducing carbon emissions from their buildings. There is a proven return on investment, it uses existing space on rooftops, and reduces reliance on the grid.

Experts we work with tell us that they’ve seen a shift back to solar over the past year. The price has come down significantly and when you combine that with energy prices going up, the payback period for solar is more attractive.

Some companies held off major infrastructure projects earlier this year due to energy market price volatility. However, as things calmed down, investment picked up. Most companies understand that energy prices will not fall back to pre-crisis levels but will stabilise at higher rates per kW.

Do the financial benefits of solar for businesses still stack up?

A challenge for organisations trying to cut carbon is that electricity usage is increasing at many sites – and will continue to rise significantly. This is due to growing demand for on-site electric vehicle charging, as well as decarbonisation measures such as installing energy-hungry heat pumps. This means that investing in solar and generating on-site is only going to help the bottom line.

It is worth noting that export tariffs have decreased – this is the amount that you got paid for exporting solar energy back to the grid. Export tariffs that were up to 30p per kW are now around 15p per kW. This means that more companies are right sizing their solar arrays to meet their own energy needs rather than generate a surplus to sell.

Is solar a good way to decarbonise commercial buildings?

Solar is a proven method of decarbonising energy consumption – and this can be optimised with a BESS. At Connected Energy, we are seeing more enquiries that measure environmental return on investment rather than purely financial ROI.

Major companies are no longer purely interested in traditional financial payback analysis. In some cases, public and private sector organisations with ambitious decarbonisation targets are using a new metric: cost per tonne of CO2 saved. This means that the project must save a certain amount of CO2 for a certain price to get the go-ahead. That type of scenario is going to become more and more prevalent over the next few years as it filters down to SMEs.

How can I optimise solar on my buildings?

A battery energy storage system (BESS) can improve both the financial and environmental ROI from solar on commercial buildings.

Some businesses with a solar system already on site are moving to a different demand pattern – for example, a depot with electric vehicles charging overnight. A BESS helps extend the amount of solar energy they can use, so that it benefits shifts outside of daylight hours.

We recently worked with a client who was giving 15% of their solar energy back to the grid, but with a BESS it was able to harness that energy to help power its growing electric vehicle fleet.

How can I find out more about using a BESS with my solar array?

Want to find out more about how battery energy storage systems can help you make the most of your solar array? Talk to us!

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Get in touch with our team to discuss whether battery energy storage can work for your business, and how we can offer a free feasibility study.