solar panel

Solar energy generation and storage for the home

The Challenge

Domestic solar panels produce electricity for homes sustainably, but they generate power even when there is nobody at home to use it. Excess electricity goes into the national grid rather than into home storage for later use. This means domestic users remain reliant on grid supply at night.

The development of combined generation and storage technology offers the promise of lower electricity costs and reduced dependence on fossil fuels.

The Collaboration

Brooks Devlin is a holistic environmental design practice creating sustainable buildings. Dr Alastair Buckley, from the Department of Physics and Astronomy, specialises in applying the intrinsic advantages of functional organic materials to a wide range of optoelectronic devices, including solar panels.

This project was one of 10 University of Sheffield ‘Building for the Future’ Innovation Awards, designed to give SMEs the opportunity to access research expertise and facilities. Projects were aimed at developing innovative products, processes or technologies.

The Result

Dr Buckley’s team gathered information on the environmental impact of incorporating a battery storage system into grid-tied solar panels. The findings gave the predicted costs of such an energy storage system and their payback periods.

As a result of the project, BrooksDevlin has appraised a new method for measuring battery-powered systems attached to solar panels. The findings pave the way for BrooksDevlin to engage solar panel manufacturers in developing a market strategy for the UK and possible field trials.

For Dr Buckley’s research team, this initial small scale project has led to further funding to build a battery storage demonstration facility and develop an iPad App to communicate energy research.

This project was funded through the Knowledge Transfer Account from the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council.