In December, PV module manufacturer Hanwha Q CELLS will join other big names in solar by launching an integrated energy storage product to the German residential market, in partnership with Samsung SDI.
The new product, Q.HOME, will pair a rooftop PV system with a lithium-ion battery and should allow homeowners to self-consume their rooftop-generated electricity. It will be launched in two versions, a standard model and another for East-West rooftop oriented PV systems.
The 4.68kWp or 6.24kWp systems will respectively feature 18 or 24 Q CELLS 260W modules from its QPRO 3G series. The PV array will be paired with a 3.6kWh Samsung SDI battery storage system, one-phase inverter and mounting system as well as energy management equipment and software.
The spin-off from the Korea-headquartered multinational Samsung now concentrates on batteries and energy storage systems at various scales. Samsung SDI batteries will also power Sharp’s ‘all-in-one’ integrated solar-plus-storage system that is being prepared for launch to the UK market early next year.
Jens Mayer, a technical officer at Sharp, recently told PV Tech that the integrated solution approach could make life easier for consumers and installers alike, a sentiment echoed by Hanwha Q CELLS chief commercial officer Justin Lee.
“Selecting and installing a PV rooftop system can be perceived as complex and time-consuming by many homeowners,” Lee said.
“With the latest Samsung SDI storage technology and our powerful Q CELLS PV kits we will offer Q.HOME, a convenient and easy solution for homeowners from a single source.”
Q CELLS will contract local energy consultants to assess the size and suitability of rooftops, before using installers on the company’s existing network to install the systems and connect them to the grid.
As with similar products sold in Germany, Q.HOME is intended at increasing energy independence from the grid. Q CELLS said that with a 6.24kWp PV array paired to the 3.6kWh battery, a family of four can consume around 2,200kWh of self-generated electricity annually. Based on average annual consumption figures for a four person family provided by Q CELLS of around 4,400kWh of electricity, this equates to around 50%, the company claims. Energy use is monitored by the system owner through a smartphone, tablet or home computer interface.
At a larger scale, Samsung also partnered with developer Younicos and utility company WEMAG on a 5MW “battery park” designed to provide stability to the grid. The project is located in a part of West Meklenberg, Germany, where as much as 80% of electricity in the regional grid comes from renewable energy sources. At the time the battery park was officially opened in September, Younicos claimed it could compete with a 50MW gas turbine in frequency regulation markets.
Meanwhile, Samsung SDI also announced in the last few days that it will partner with PV inverter manufacturer Sungrow on a lithium-ion battery storage plant to service the Chinese market.
The two companies signed a joint venture (JV) agreement, which they hope will allow them to fulfil a mutual goal of offering energy storage solutions for power plants in China. Initial investment in the Samsung SDI-Sungrow Energy Storage Battery Co joint venture was said to be around US$20 million, with Sungrow contributing around US$6.4 million in cash to the project. Operations were said to be scheduled to start in 2015.
A second operation, Sungrow-Samsung SDI Energy Storage Power Supply Co would also be established for the sales and distribution side of the JV.
“We will prepare gradually and step up efforts to become one of the leading ESS companies in China, which is expected to grow rapidly in the near future,” said Samsung SDI CEO Park Sang-jin.
The trend for solar companies to cross over into storage is by no means limited to module manufacturers. In the US market, some of the biggest residential PV companies have launched products, including SolarCity, SunPower and most recently Sunrun.
A Sunrun spokesman told PV Tech Storage that the company is “currently engaged in a three-year pilot programme to test a variety of battery chemistries and other technologies” with inverter and storage manufacturer OutBack Power. The pilot could result in a commercial launch as early as the beginning of next year, however the spokesman said Sunrun intends to “is still in the very early stages of developing a market for residential run the pilot for multiple years”.
“Our industry is still in the very early stages of developing a market for residential energy storage, which will be driven by consumer demand,” the spokesman said.
“Right now we are piloting this programme with high-quality manufacturers like Outback Power because we believe the next evolution of solar as a service for consumers is home solar combined with energy storage.”
Additional reporting by Mark Osborne.