The solar industry has reached a pivotal stage whereby consumers can achieve 100% energy autonomy which was once just a simple pipe dream. PV output efficiency between 2012 and 2017 has exploded, reaching a record of 29.8%! (1) This represents a 10% growth in efficiency, completely obliterating older panels. These cutting edge developments make solar an enticing option for anyone interested in reducing costs, and the ideal time for all early adopters of solar from the early 2000’s to upgrade.
Energy autonomy equates to the percentage of energy which is both self-produced and used for consumption. A rate of 75% autonomy would mean you only purchase 25% of your energy requirements; because 75% is covered by your system.
You might be thinking if the record output efficiency is “only” 29.8%, how can I achieve 100% energy autonomy with my system? Well first, it should be noted that output efficiency is NOT the indicator of your energy independence, rather your gauge should be production vs usage. Your energy autonomy ceiling will be determined by the technology you choose to adopt.
The following will show the steps you should take to maximise your energy autonomy. The more steps you take, the greater your energy autonomy will be.
A 5kWh system can produce on average 22 kWh of energy a day. The reality however is you can’t take complete advantage of your system. Any power you don’t immediately use during the day is lost. Solar therefore gives you an average of 25% energy autonomy, but is the critical first step you must take to reach complete energy autonomy.
Combining an 8kWh battery to your system will more than double your self-consumption. The graphs above illustrate how you simply store your produced energy in your battery, then redistribute this energy to when you can actually use it. Your PV cannot generate energy in the early morning or evening so without battery storage, you continue to pay for electricity.
Consumer sentiment indicates storage is a necessity when installing solar. This is evidenced by many of our customers purchasing batteries with their new systems.
The critical next step is to choose the battery which gives you the most bang for your buck. Data shows the best savings can be had with the sonnenBatterie at the time of writing this article. The sonnenBatterie has the highest cycle rate at up to 2.7 cycles a day. This means the battery can charge and discharge completely almost 3 times in a 24 hour period when required. This gives you the maximum opportunity to use the most energy from your PV production.
sonnenBatterie is packaged with smart software which allows it to learn your usage patterns and adapt. This means if you use the most electricity between 9 and 11pm, the sonnenBatterie learns to reserve power for those hours, therefore providing you with free electricity when you need it the most. Competitor’s batteries simply charge and discharge at their maximum rates, with far less or no control. The sonnenBatterie allows for complete control of this process. This gives you the maximum electricity autonomy available on the market today of up to 75%.
To reach 100% (with a 90% average) energy autonomy, your best option is to buy a sonnenBatterie and join the sonnenFlat network. sonnenFlat allows sonnenBatterie customers to pay one flat monthly fee (approximately the same as your current daily connection fee) and gives you the energy you require each day when your PV and sonnenBatterie cannot account for your needs. sonnenFlat is not compatible with other battery brands.
The model is proven in Germany and is now available in Australia.
Energy autonomy should be at the forefront of your decision making process when purchasing a PV and battery storage solution. If the idea of never paying for electricity usage again appeals to you, sonnenFlat may be worth exploring further.
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1. The newly certified record conversion efficiency of 29.8 per cent was set using a top cell made of gallium indium phosphide developed by NREL, and a bottom cell made of crystalline silicon developed by CSEM using silicon heterojunction technology. The two cells were made separately and then stacked by NREL. Martin A. Green et al. Solar cell efficiency tables (version 47), Progress in Photovoltaics: Research and Applications (2016).