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Cable TV installer network could put ‘30MWh of electricity storage in UK homes a month’

The head of a company selected by the UK government to deploy residential energy storage under a pilot scheme believes that his network of installers could deploy 10,000 units, equivalent to 30MWh of storage per month.

Simon Daniel of Moixa Technology said that his company, which produces systems between 2kW and 5kW capacity, has contracted an installation company which previously put satellite and pay-per-view television systems in homes across the UK to fit Moixa’s Maslow energy storage system. Given the right market conditions, through both financial and non-financial support, it would be feasible for Moixa to scale up their installations significantly, Daniel claims.

Maslow is primarily paired with solar PV systems. At present, the UK Department of Energy and Climate Change's (DECC) trial of the technology addresses three specific use cases – firstly to better enable self-consumption of PV-generated power onsite, secondly to assess the possible benefits of aggregating storage from a number of interconnected systems and finally to provide DC back-up power through forthcoming new power standards.

Moixa’s installation partner has previously deployed satellite and cable television systems at a rate of 40,000 per week. With Maslow designed to be fitted in a customer’s house in around an hour, Daniel said, it was feasible that the company could supply significant numbers of systems on a regular basis.

Leveraging economies of scale would be the key to enabling increased deployment at a cost-effective price, the Moixa chief believes. However, speaking at an Electricity Storage Network event last week, Daniel also called for a subsidy scheme along the lines of a “Feed-in Tariff (FiT) 2.0” to be considered for energy storage paired with PV systems. Retrofitting existing solar systems with Maslow units could also provide a quicker path to market, according to Daniel.

The consumer interface for Maslow, displayed on a smartphone. Image: Moixa Technology.
PV Tech Storage spoke to Simon Daniel this morning and asked how - while the numbers he quoted made it appear logistically possible for Moixa to supply several thousand units a month - demand in the market could be driven up to meet this potential supply. Looking at Germany, one of the current leaders for storage paired with solar, Daniel was adamant that the same constraints to deployment may not apply to a UK-wide rollout of Maslow as they had done for many systems currently available in the central European country. Around 4,000 systems were sold in the first year of a German subsidy programme for residential systems, predicted by EUPD Research to rise to around 15,000 this year.

“The difference with Germany is they tend to do ‘fridge freezer type’ large systems, a large metal box costing you around €5,000 (US$5,710) to €10,000, so it’s appealing to a subset of the market that are rich, large solar homes who are spending 5k plus on a system. So there’s a price factor there. Ours is about €2,000, it’s going to be significantly cheaper and quicker to install,” Daniel said.

As well as scaling up and a possible FiT scheme, the other key to increased deployment would be regulatory changes, according to Daniel. In common with other regions, such as Texas, where the multiple benefits to the network conferred by storage are being examined in earnest, part of the story will be enabling storage system owners and providers to benefit, for example, for providing grid services as well as enabling self-consumption.

Daniel concluded by reiterating his company’s wish to see a “FiT 2.0” applied to storage that he said could be a “tipping point” to drive demand for energy storage upwards.

“It’s interesting that while there have been no subsidies, people are still shipping those things, as soon as there’s a FiT 2.0 you see a tipping effect in the market.

“The constraint is what pull-through from the market [there is]. The tipping point is a FiT 2.0 tariff giving benefit to storage and increasing market need, which is peak prices and outage risk. If you have a power cut, storage takes off, if you have rising electricity prices, storage takes off and if you have a tariff, incentive, storage takes off. We’ve seen that in other countries.”

Jonathan Radcliff, a senior research fellow in energy storage at the University of Birmingham, agreed that the UK, which currently supports storage at a relatively small scale through research projects and pilots, needed a more overarching and comprehensive policy to support energy storage technologies and the growing industry around them.

Radcliffe told PV Tech Storage that it was positive that the government has supported demonstration projects and the sharing of knowledge, but “it needs to scale up a bit more from those and get a bit more coordinated around the policy and business opportunity”.

According to Radcliffe, a national strategy framework could help. His team at the University of Birmingham are this year working on a roadmap for UK energy storage “looking at both how the trajectory of technology forms and costs over the coming years and linking that into the energy system and how it could play a role in that”.

The UK's minister for energy, Amber Rudd recently confirmed that the government is not planning any framework of incentives for energy storage.

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