Producing & Storing Electicity in the Home

A Talk by Paul Jewel 9th July 2014

Producing & storing electricity in the home 9th July 2014 A talk by Paul Jewell Paul Jewell CEng FIET, Policy Manager Western Power Distribution (WPD) serving the Midlands, South West and Wales.

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In 2011 Paul took up responsibility as Policy Manager for WPD. The role is key to WPD's approach to innovation as it brings together the work of the Future Networks Team with the more traditional elements of management of an electricity distribution network. Only a few years ago the idea of producing electricity at home was relatively new. Since then the development in domestic solar panels, and the tariff incentives applied to them, has led to a more wide-scale acceptance of local generation. So where does this take us next? What additional use can we make of electricity generated through solar panels? Do we need to use the energy when generated or can we store it? Could the electricity network operator make use of the energy and systems?

Low Carbon

The UK Government is committed to reducing CO2 emissions as part of the Carbon Plan cutting emissions by at least 34% by 2020 and 80% by 2050 and against that backdrop, WPD is committed to 11% savings between 2015 and 2023 (Electricity distribution charges make up about 10% of consumer bills). Paul pointed out that the face of electricity is changing and that there is now more emphasis on home generation. a decarbonisation/ low carbon commitment for heating and transport and more electricity usage in general.

Evolving Network

Renewable electricity will be fed into the WPD Network directly (low carbon generation)
  • There will be more data monitoring than before
  • There are OFGEM funded demonstration projects running to demonstrate carbon emission reduction
  • Smart meters will be fitted giving tariff flexibility, consumption data leading to better network management and cost savings.
  • Production and storing electricity in the home - The SoLa Project

    In Bristol WPD has a SoLa Project involving Domestic Trials on 30 homes in conjunction with Bristol City Council and Knowle West Media Centre, Bath University and others . This is basically a project to demonstrate the use of low voltage DC networks to power lighting, smart appliancess, central heating pumps etc.

    Features

  • Uses existing wiring and switches
  • Solar Panels
  • Lead-acid-gel batteries in the loft (using strong mountings e.g. old water tank positions)
  • Modified light fittings, LED lamps
  • Controls for charging batteries (90% to 20% charge envelope used) allowing various modes of operation - charging batteries from mains, charging batteries from solar power (PV cells), powering lights, exporting power to grid
  • Main benefits

  • Cost savings on energy bills, particularly in conjunction with "smart meters"
  • More reliable power supply during outages (central heating pumps still work etc)
  • Increased efficiency of DC powered equipment (no AC to DC conversions with inherent inefficiencies)
  • Quicker and cheaper connection of Low Carbon Technologies (grid connection etc)
  • Commercial Projects

    Similar commercial projects have been run in an office and 5 schools and using DC networks to supply PC's. Smart meters are being trailed to better understand demands at the local level. More instrumentation is being installed e.g. at sub-stations, again to better understand local demands.

    Disadvantages

  • The cost of batteries at present would probably be prohibitive in a home.
  • There are no approved DC meters at present
  • R Westcott

    Ray Westcott

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