What is photovoltaic energy storage and how does it work?
“photovoltaic energy storage” refers to technologies that can capture solar power, store it as another form of energy (chemical, thermal, mechanical), and then release it for use when it is needed. It is also called PV energy storage.
PV materials and devices convert sunlight into electrical energy. A single PV device is known as a cell. An individual PV cell is usually small, typically producing about 1 or 2 watts of power. These cells are made of different semiconductor materials and are often less than the thickness of four human hairs. To withstand the outdoors for many years, cells are sandwiched between protective materials in a combination of glass and/or plastics.
Advantages of Combining Storage and Solar
- Balancing electricity loads – Without storage, electricity must be generated and consumed at the same time, which may mean that grid operators take some generation offline, or “curtail” it, to avoid over-generation and grid reliability issues. Conversely, there may be other times, after sunset or on cloudy days, when there is little solar production but plenty of demand for power. Enter storage, which can be filled or charged when generation is high and power consumption is low, then dispensed when the load or demand is high. When some of the electricity produced by the sun is put into storage, that electricity can be used whenever grid operators need it, including after the sun has set. In this way, storage acts as an insurance policy for sunshine.
- “Firming” solar generation – Short-term storage can ensure that quick changes in generation don’t greatly affect the output of a solar power plant. For example, a small battery can be used to ride through a brief generation disruption from a passing cloud, helping the grid maintain a “firm” electrical supply that is reliable and consistent.
- Providing resilience – Solar and storage can provide backup power during an electrical disruption. They can keep critical facilities operating to ensure continuous essential services, like communications. Solar and storage.