Smart Solar at the NSC

Steve Pester, BRE, gives the lowdown on recent events at BRE’S National Solar Centre

Smart Solar Energy was the hot topic at a BRE National Solar Centre event at the Eden Project on 29 January.  Over 120 delegates reviewed Smart Solar technologies, such as storage, export limiting, alternative grid connections, power diverters and electric vehicles.

NSC associates Ray Noble and Martin Cotterell presented the future for storage in the UK and the work that NSC is doing on guidance documents for electrical storage and the forthcoming IET Code of Practice for solar PV systems.

After a brief interlude for a light entertainment video showing spectacular explosions of mistreated Li-ion batteries (a BRE experiment filmed by the BBC – some people have the best jobs!), another NSC associate, James Hoare provided an excellent modelling demonstration of how grid connections with export constraint conditions may still be viable when actual solar performance and building loads are taken into account. In the same vein, Western Power Distribution spoke about the possible ‘alternative connection’ procedures that can enable access to the grid in areas that are near to capacity.

An interesting off-grid case study combining PV, batteries and a generator was presented by Cardiff University, whilst representatives from industry discussed the commercial realities for export limiting and storage, and showed some of the technologies available on the market today.

The day closed with a lively workshop seeking feedback on a solar yield forecasting tool currently being developed through an Innovate UK collaboration between the BRE National Solar Centre, MET Office and the University of Exeter.

As predicted in this column a couple of years ago, the popularity of the event demonstrates the increasing commercial appetite for storage technologies, as well as for export limiting and the possible synergies with electric vehicles.

The presentations from the event can be viewed at: http://www.bre.co.uk/page.jsp?id=1346