STA Blogs: Opportunities for Behind The Meter Generation & Storage

Lior Handelsman, VP of Marketing and Product Strategy, founder of SolarEdge

Typically, the energy generated by a homeowner’s PV system does not match energy usage. As such, the UK has relied on rate structures, such as feed-in tariffs, to deal with the excess energy produced. But, with the decline of these subsidies in the UK, system owners need to find a way to move past incentive structures and head towards using more of their solar energy in order to maximize their investment. Behind-the-meter technology, such as smart inverters and storage, can offer new and more efficient paths for future power consumption, and can place more control over energy usage in the hands of system owners.

Adding a battery to a PV system allows energy generated during the day to be stored for consumption during the evening when energy usage is high. While, of course, the quality of the battery is important, the inverter is responsible for its functionality. In a PV-plus-storage system, the inverter controls when the PV energy is used to power loads, stored in a battery, or exported to the grid. It also controls when the battery is charged, idle, or discharged to generate the maximum economic return.

A key component needed in a behind-the-meter system is the meter itself. The meter is responsible for monitoring the import and export of energy to the grid and load consumption. Based on these readings, the inverter manages PV production and battery charge/discharge and diverts energy to the house or to the grid. With high-resolution monitoring, installing a meter provides system owners valuable insights into consumption and self-consumption patterns

Even without a battery, system owners can offset the impact of FiT decline and increase their self-consumption. One of the simplest ways is with load management by shifting consumption patterns to match PV production to loads, such as with immersion heaters and smart plugs. Using solar energy to heat water is a particularly cost-effective way to store energy and also reduces water heating bills and chargeable devices around the home.

As much as system owners benefit from behind-the-meter functionality, these opportunities can be taken a step further. If the utility company is open to working with the PV industry, then there are additional value streams that can be created. The first and most apparent benefit is grid stabilisation. Voltage regulation, frequency control, and power supply/reservoirs are all possible value streams. For example, by creating distributed, PV ‘power stations’ coupled with storage, loads can be reduced from the grid at peak times. This lessens the need for utility investment in generation, transmission, and distribution.

While traditional power generation is built on large-scale, centralised sources for energy production and storage, future power generation may look very different. This is where behind-the-meter functionality plays a key role, and distributed generation can become a reality. New technologies enable a decentralised model with mini-power stations and offer greater value by placing energy production and storage at the same location as the load. Coupled with advances in communication infrastructure, inverter controls, computing power, and smart inverter technology, there are many additional opportunities for behind-the-meter generation and storage. With collaboration from relevant stakeholders, these technologies could finally be the missing link of technology that unlocks solar energy’s grid parity potential.

Lior Handelsman, VP of Marketing and Product Strategy, founded SolarEdge in 2006 and currently serves as our Vice President, Marketing and Product Strategy where he is responsible for SolarEdge’s marketing activities, product management and business development. Prior to founding SolarEdge, Mr. Handelsman spent 11 years at the Electronics Research Department (‘‘ERD’’), one of Israel’s national labs, which is tasked with developing innovative and complex systems. At the ERD he held several positions including research and development power electronics engineer, head of the ERD’s power electronics group and manager of several large-scale development projects and he was a branch head in his last position at the ERD. Mr. Handelsman holds a B.S. in Electrical Engineering (cum laude) and an MBA from the Technion, Israel’s Institute of Technology in Haifa.

Christelle Lawson, UK Country Manager for SolarEdge will be speaking at our event on the benefits that Virtual Power Plants (VPP) could deliver to stakeholders across electricity networks in Scotland. Come learn about how SolarEdge’s new platform will enable access to new value streams through aggregation.