Sunday 17 January 2016

Battery-powered Buildings

Rechargeable batteries are a technology we associate with annoying children’s bunny toys, laptops and convenient, cable-free handheld site tools, but 2016 will see the technology shift to powering our homes and businesses.

Technological advances, combined with concerns over the UK’s future energy policy and the slashing of renewable energy subsidies, are set to supercharge demand for onsite power storage in 2016.

The evolution of the electric car has jump-started the development of cost-effective electricity storage, which has long been the missing piece in the sustainable puzzle needed to balance out the peaks and troughs of renewable energy generation. In 2015, electric car manufacturer Tesla released its Powerwall home battery, and experts predict the technology will be refined and scaled up quickly.

“There is so much capital being poured into car battery technology, making storage more dense, less heavy and less expensive,” says Barny Evans, renewables and energy-efficiency consultant at WSP Parsons Brinckerhoff. “Prices are dropping so fast that on-site storage is becoming increasingly viable.”

Evans predicts two key areas where battery storage will be seriously considered on projects over the next year. First, on residential properties where clients use large amounts of photovoltaics (PV) or other forms of renewable power generation.

Here the reduction in feed-in tariffs for exporting to the grid means that the cost-benefit equation will only work if all the energy generated is used on site – which will require batteries capable of storing the electricity produced.

Second, commercial properties can use the technology to avoid distribution use of system (DUoS) charges. In areas that are operating at near or peak capacity, the charges for using electricity at certain times of the day can multiply the costs up to five times.

“One big opportunity is to have batteries that charge during the day and then are used at peak times to avoid DUoS charges,” says Evans. “We are advising clients that, although not viable in most areas, it is already viable in some niche areas. We are already working with a supermarket that is setting up a trial to test the financial viability.”

Extracted from:, (2016). Construction Manager - Agenda. [online] Available at: [Accessed 14 Jan. 2016].