Battery Backup for Solar Panels
Interest in energy storage is increasingly becoming more popular. Storage of energy is very pertinent in renewables as it solves issues associated with variability. Storage of energy is also very important for commercial consumers which aim to reduce peak demand charges and energy bills. Batteries are a very important storage engaged by renewables. Batteries are fitted with solar panels to meet specific requirements of the consumer. A lot of factors are considered in order to effectively choose a battery some of which include cycle life, cost, maintenance, and installation. The different batteries back up that can be used for solar panels are briefly discussed below:
Lead acid batteries are very popular for renewable energy and have been used globally for decades. Lead acid batteries cost relatively lower that Lithium-ion batteries. This difference in cost makes it a preferable choice in some applications including in solar panels. A new form of Lead acid battery known as Valve-regulated lead-acid (VRLA) is increasingly used due to its wider range of advantages. VRLA can be used in case of emergency backup which suits solar panels as there is the need to save the energy from the sun during the day and used during the night. New lead-acid batteries have increased total energy output and performance making them very suitable for renewable energy applications at a substantially lower price when compared with gel batteries. One of the major challenges faced by lead acid, in general, is sulfation which kills the battery over time. VRLA batteries added with nanocarbon tackles this challenge which allows the battery to charge quicker than conventional lead-acid batteries. New lead-acid technologies are recombinant which means that they convert hydrogen and oxygen produced into the water. This reduces the amount of maintenance needed for such batteries making it very suitable for solar panels which are installed in areas where maintenance is difficult.
According to the report by the US. Solar Energy Monitor, they estimate that lithium-ion batteries are the most widely used form of energy storage. However, they are usually more expensive than lead-acid batteries. This is partly due to the fact that they need a battery management system to observe the temperature and voltage levels of each of the cells within the battery in other to avoid the excessive discharging and charging of the cells. A battery management system is not so necessary for other battery types like lead acid because a charge controller can easily regulate the charging and discharging regime. If the right size of the lithium-ion cells is used, a huge amount of cost can be saved on peripheral devices like ownership cost, charge controllers and a host of others. Also, another advantage that lithium acid possesses over lead acid batteries is that it delivers more cycles in its lifetime. This makes them highly used in areas where ancillary services to the grid are needed such as frequency support, voltage support, and energy smoothing. The most recognized advantage of lithium-ion batteries for solar is its charge and discharge efficiency which makes it gather more energy. Lithium-ion batteries also lose a very minute amount of energy when not in use which makes it very suitable for solar installations where energy is used irregularly.
Another battery type that is used as battery backups for solar panels are the Nickel-cadmium batteries. They do not possess high energy density like other battery technologies, however, they provide reliability and long life without the need for complicated battery management systems. Nickel Cadmium batteries are also cheaper than other battery technologies. NiCd batteries are usually built to have openings which allow the release of gases. Old designs of NiCd batteries require watering, however, newer designs allow the gases produced to recombine to form water making the batteries almost maintenance free. The batteries are also known to withstand extreme temperatures making it well suited to very harsh environments. They have the highest cycle life when compared with other batteries used as battery backups with some companies guaranteeing up to 20 years without servicing.
The latest and most mature technology option for energy storage for solar battery backup is Redox flow batteries. vanadium from flyash (a by-product of coal-fired electric generating plants) batteries (VRFB) has the potential of saving the highest per Kilowatts hour. One of the major advantages of VRFB is the fact that they do not degrade over time making them the longest lasting form of electricity solar storage. Other battery technologies require increasing the quantity of batteries to increase the hours of storage. VRFB is an exception as in other to increase battery size all that needs to be done is to add more electrolyte to the battery The battery has no cycling limitation as charging and discharging as the very small impact on the lifespan.
Comparison between Solar Batteries and Generators.
Batteries and generators are known to provide power for use. The major difference between the two is the way in which the power is provided. Generators are known to provide power directly and supply to all outlets and appliances connected to the generator. Conventional generators are usually diesel or petrol-fueled and power a motor attached to an alternator that produces electricity. Batteries, however, produce power steadily for a long period of time depending on how well charged it is.
Thus, a solar system is an energy source used as an alternative to traditional energy sources such as alternators and generators. Solar is basically a battery charger. So if the main goal is to extend the time of use, solar is a preferred option when compared to the generator. It’s like the tortoise and the hare so each has its own part to play.
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