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Do androids dream of electric cars?

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1338643.  Thu Dec 12, 2019 9:55 am Reply with quote

cnb wrote:
In a grid-connected facility, you wouldn't install a battery capable of storing all the excess production on an optimal day, as large parts of that expensive battery's capacity would sit unused most of the time.

That's not necessarily true. Whilst the batteries will certainly be useful for storing excess power output from the solar panels, they might also be used for balancing out the load on the system on less-than-sunny days.

On a miserable winter's day, when the solar panels are generating only a fraction of what they're capable of, the chargers will almost certainly be run from the grid connection. However, it might work out cheaper for Dundee City Council (who run the chargers) and better for the grid as a whole if this is done by charging up the batteries at night when there's less demand on the grid and then using that stored capacity to run the chargers during the day. That may result in the large parts of that expensive battery's capacity being in constant use.

cnb wrote:
Optimally sizing the battery would require a financial calculation involving the cost of battery capacity, the cost of capital, the rate at which surplus energy can be sold to the grid, and the day and night rates at which energy can be purchased from the grid.

That's very true, and it's not something we have enough information to guess at.

However, it did get me thinking. Imagine a future where the National Grid is supplied by a much higher proportion of renewable sources than it is now. As I mentioned upthread, measures will have to be taken to smooth out the peaky nature of such energy generation. Excess energy will need to be stored somewhere, most likely in batteries. Given the current push towards installing small-scale generation and batteries in homes, not to mention the current development of ideas around Vehicle-2-Grid power, it's not impossible to imagine a future where a lot of the capacity to store that excess power is spread over a large number of individual homes.

Now, combine this with the rollout of smart meters that are enabling people to sign up to tariffs which encourage them to use more power at times of day when the grid isn't so busy, and we could end up in a situation where the price you pay for energy could vary many times during the course of the day. On a particularly windy, or sunny, day prices could drop to encourage people to charge up their storage systems. Then, when supplies drop or demand increases, prices would increase again to discourage home users. This would cause some interesting problems that need sorting out.

Firstly you'd need some nifty computer controls in your house to constantly monitor the hour-by-hour (or possibly minute-by-minute) price of energy and then decide when is the best time to charge up based on a combination of price and how low the storage in your batteries is running. This is not too tricky to solve per se, but it might cause some interesting problems if people need to balance their budgets with a constantly varying energy price. I wonder if we'd see a range of energy plans like we currently see with mortgage products, with "fixed rate" energy supplies designed to allow people to budget accurately month-to-month.

Secondly, and perhaps more seriously, it'll make things a lot more tricky for the energy suppliers. When the price of energy is constantly varying and you're encouraging home owners to use energy when it's at its cheapest, the business model to make a decent profit is going to become a lot more complicated.

1341240.  Fri Jan 24, 2020 3:00 pm Reply with quote

In other news, Iíve spent the day at the BETT show, mainly looking at robotics. But I was drawn to one solution, it was a byo remote car, powered by a fuel cell.
Its out of primary school price per unit range. But if we had the budget.............


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