Electricity grids, despite (and because of) our heavy reliance on them, are massively inefficient. They’re designed to cope with heavy power usage in winter months and during the day, and adapt to our low power usage in the summer and at night. That means that most of the time, we’re only using a fraction of the grid’s capacity, but occasionally, we risk over-straining it.
One solution comes in the form of energy storage systems that act like giant batteries. Moixa Technology, for example, has come up with a system that collects energy from solar panels during the day and electricity supplies at night, when tariffs are lower, to create an emergency store of energy. That energy, which is stored in a white box in your fuse cupboard, is then used to power lighting circuits and/or electricity sockets, so you’re using a minimum of grid energy at peak times. Even more usefully, if there’s a power cut, the energy can be used to power lighting and devices.
Here’s one of the storage boxes in situ:
The firm also claims that the boxes also solve another problem: a third of the energy collected by solar panels is lost when it’s converted and directed into the grid. But these boxes create a direct connection between circuits and solar panels, minimising wastage.
Moixa has launched an energy storage pilot scheme across 300 homes, offices, and student accommodation at Brunel University, and at the moment at least, it’s the largest off-grid residential energy storage project in the UK. They’ve also partnered with 1248, a smart technology company, to get data on how the boxes are collecting and storing energy. In future, you could track your home’s usage on your phone or tablet.
Simon Daniel, CEO of Moixa, says that if energy storage technology becomes more widely used, it could help our current electricity grid survive the increase in demand: “If lots of people use storage technology, it makes the grid more resilient, as there’s less usage at any one time.” Well he would say that, wouldn’t he? Though to be fair, there is something pretty cool about being able to say your house is “off the grid”.