North Star Solar to test solar-plus-storage systems in London boroughs

North Star Solar is set to deliver a new solar battery storage pilot scheme in four London boroughs as it tests four battery combinations across 40 council homes.

The company began testing solar battery storage and LED lighting combinations and approached Camden Council with proposals that would see social housing occupants save money on their energy bills. The project was then able to secure a grant of £160,000 from National Energy Action, while Camden council attracted three other London boroughs to the scheme.

Peter Sermol, co-founder of North Star Solar, said: “The household uses the PV generated electricity during the day which also charges the battery for evening and night time usage. During the winter months the household will use morning time electricity from the battery, so they are paying 7p/kWh instead of 15p.

“We presented this to Camden council and they liked it so that drove the grant application. The NEA agreed to fund the batteries and we’re providing the solar ourselves. Camden then invited Waltham Forest, Haringey and Islington into the picture so it’s between all four boroughs now.”

The installations will take place in the first quarter of 2016, using four battery combinations including solutions from Leclanché. The Swiss manufacturer has worked internationally on a number of pilot projects, including a deal with Younicos to integrate 1MW of solar on the Portuguese island of Graciosa.

Sermol claims the systems could save residents at least 20% on their electricity bill at the time of installation, with those using pre-payment metering likely to save around 40%.

“Fuel security is a big issue but even more of an issue for us is fuel poverty, so we’re looking to help those in fuel poverty, the working poor and pensioners. UK electricity rates have risen by 9.2% year on year for the last six years; what we’re looking to do is remove that element of risk from the consumer,” he said.

The solar battery storage model has been developed to work without government subsidy, with the latest reductions to the feed-in tariff considered largely irrelevant.

“Having no FIT is something we expected and it’s the future. For us we’ve always viewed the time-shifting element of battery storage as a game changer, allowing shifting daytime usage to the evening and night time,” Sermol added.

“We’re trying to make it as simplistic as possible and build in value to people’s homes. It’s just making the price of electricity more democratic.”