Up to 40 council properties in South Yorkshire will have solar batteries installed to trial a new mode of virtual power plant as part of a bid to boost solar energy adoption in the county.
Council homes in Oxspring, near Barnsley, will be adopting the technology so that the council can assess if it helps to grow the electricity network's capacity. If so, it will allow more properties to have solar panels installed.
The trial will cost £250,000, and the backers say that those homes which have both the solar PV panels to generate the energy and the batteries to then store it will cut their electricity bills by about 50pc. This will help to address fuel poverty.
The battery element is particularly important. Until now, constraints with the grid have prevented a wider rollout of solar panels on to council properties, as expensive network upgrades have been required.
Solar panels produce electricity for the property itself or can export any excess to the grid, which can put a strain on the existing electrical network. The batteries offer an alternative by allowing that excess power to be stored for later use.
The scheme will mean that households can benefit from clean and locally produced energy. If successful, the battery usage project will mean that more homes will be able to adopt the solar panel technology without the expensive network upgrade costs, saving British customers millions of pounds.
The solar batteries are particularly compact and smaller in size than a typical domestic boiler. They will be added to thirty council properties which have roof-top solar panels and ten which have none. This will create an energy cluster as part of a virtual power plant, providing solar energy to the homes and reducing grid export needs.