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Batteries in photovoltaic systems: understanding their function, benefits, and safety measures

In recent years, the use of batteries has rapidly grown across various applications, from portable electronic devices to electric vehicles and energy storage systems. However, as we rely more on batteries, safety becomes a crucial priority, especially with solar power systems installed in our homes and commercial establishments. This article explores their Function, Benefits, and Safety Measures.

When we search for batteries, we can easily find different brands that have become an integral part of our daily lives. From LG, BYD, and RCT to more affordable options like Huawei, GoodWe, and many others, the variety of brands in the market makes us consider not only their cost-effectiveness but also their safety.

Although crucial for the transition to more sustainable energy sources, batteries are not exempt from risks. The industry faces challenges such as overheating, short circuits, electrolyte leakage, and flammability. If these risks are not effectively managed, they can potentially lead to serious accidents.

Let’s try to gain some understanding about their function…

Understandably, photovoltaic panels are used to convert sunlight into electricity, which is then stored in batteries. These batteries play a crucial role in sustaining energy consumption, providing greater independence and efficiency. However, it’s essential to consider the return on investment before investing in batteries, as they may spend up to 90% of their storage capacity.

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Batteries are typically used when the photovoltaic system cannot meet electricity demands, usually at sunset. It’s important to note that using around 2 kWh can deplete a 10 kWh battery in about 4.5 hours, and reliance on the electrical grid may return if the battery runs out. To maximize cost savings, it’s crucial to use the stored energy efficiently.

After sunset, most electricity providers still charge higher rates, ranging between 18 to 23 cents per kWh. This means that the 10 kWh provided by the battery can save you about €2 to €2.5 per day. Crunching the numbers, we’re talking about monthly savings in the range of €60 to €70.

Different types of batteries are used to store solar energy effectively. Lithium-ion (Li-ion) batteries are the most used models, preferred for their high energy density, long lifespan, and low self-discharge. Lithium Iron Phosphate (LiFePO4) batteries are variants known for their thermal stability and safety, making them perfect for use in adverse conditions. Despite being an older technology, lead-acid batteries are still used in some systems due to their affordability, despite having lower energy density and lifespan compared to lithium-ion batteries. Additionally, Flow batteries and Supercapacitors are currently being explored as promising alternatives for storing large amounts of energy for extended periods.

The selection between different types of batteries depends on various factors such as cost, available space, energy requirements, and desired lifespan. Lithium-ion batteries are favored for their efficiency and performance.

The future of solar energy storage systems is promising, with significant advancements expected. Research is focused on developing batteries that are more efficient, sustainable, and cost-effective. Emerging technologies like solid-state batteries and new materials for lithium-ion batteries are promising significant improvements in energy density and durability. The integration of artificial intelligence and advanced management systems aims to optimize usage and extend the lifespan of batteries, driving the industry’s continual evolution towards making solar energy storage systems more accessible and effective.

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Solar energy storage batteries are safe to use if they are installed and operated correctly. It’s important to place them in a location where there is proper ventilation to dissipate any heat generated during operation. It’s also recommended to install short-circuit protection measures like fuses or circuit breakers to prevent any damage. Real-time monitoring systems should be set up to keep an eye on the battery’s condition and detect any irregularities early on.

Proper training should be provided to installers and operators, and they must follow safety standards and local regulations. The use of battery management systems that protect against overcharging and excessive discharge can help ensure the batteries operate safely and for a long time. Regular maintenance, including checks and cleaning, is essential to keep the batteries efficient and reliable. By following these guidelines, you can ensure the safety and reliability of your solar energy storage system.

The integration of batteries into photovoltaic systems not only challenges myths about risks and explosions but also provides significant benefits. In addition to storing energy for nighttime use, reducing energy bills, and promoting sustainability, safety is ensured through professional installation and strict compliance with standards. This synergy highlights significant opportunities for a secure transition towards a more sustainable energy future.

By ISA CONCEIÇÃO

Isa Conceição is the CEO of Soren – Renewable Energy Solutions, based in Almancil. She assists individual customers and small businesses seeking renewable energy solutions across Portugal. +351 910 030 423 | [email protected] | www.soren.pt