Last night we visited Solmatix Renewables who specialise in the fabrication, supply and installation of renewable energy systems (Solar PV, Solar Water Heating / Storage and Biomass Boilers).
Director Neville Bell talked us through the history of the organisation and how it became part of the Harvey Group. The company has 49.5kW of solar PV installed on its own roof at its Belfast HQ.
The 20kWh battery is then used to feed 3 EV chargers (there are 2 mains supplied chargers too). There are 6 electric vehicles driven by group employees made up of 3 Volkswagen e-Golf’s, a Nissan Leaf, a BMW i3 and a Vauxhall Ampera.
Batteries are still expensive and although we didn’t hear the actual cost it does represent a significant investment for the company.
The battery is a storage system based on Lithium Iron Phosphate (LiFePO4) technology manufactured by local firm Arbarr in Limavady.
We talked to Arbarr at the Spire 2 launch late last year. They told us a ball park for a 30kWh system was now “low £20,000’s” and they hope to eventually have a 5kWh system available for “under £3,000”.
It’s still early days for domestic battery tech though and prices are falling. To demonstrate how fast this can happen with renewable technologies, Neville told us that one of the first 4kWp PV systems they installed (around 8 years ago) cost £30,000. Today a similar system costs around £3,800.
Whatever the future holds, individual home batteries, V2G, sub-station batteries, grid-scale batteries, or all of the above, storage will be a critical component in the move to renewables.