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Bristol Battery Storage Project Brilliance



An innovative project trialled in Bristol has been a success. SoLa Bristol used battery storage devices charged by rooftop solar PV Panels on homes and businesses across the city. The residents in the buildings benefitted from the project by storing the energy in the day and using it at night. They also profited by selling surplus energy back to the grid.

Partners of the SoLa Bristol project have celebrated its completion. The successful energy innovation trial helped 26 homes, 5 schools and an office block reap the rewards of more efficient renewable energy.

The £2.8 million SoLa Bristol project trialled battery storage devices, charged by rooftop solar PV panels in the Knowle West based council-owned homes and work buildings. Participants were able to store power generated by the solar panels during the day to then use the electricity when it was needed to power a DC lighting system. They also benefited from a ‘Smart Tariff’ deal, allowing them to earn money by exporting their stored energy at peak times onto the electricity grid, reducing their peak energy demand.

Bristol-based Western Power Distribution (WPD) partnered with Bristol City Council, Siemens, the University of Bath and Knowle West Media Centre to deliver the project, which came to an end in March 2016.

It was designed to address the technical constraints that WPD has experienced as the distribution network operator (DNO) in Bristol, where the uptake of solar panels has been high.

The project found that demand side response and customer variable tariffs can be very beneficial for both customers and DNOs but maintaining engagement is absolutely crucial to success. Equally, future projects must ensure that they tailor their approach to make the battery storage technology work for each customer – a ‘one-size-fits-all’ approach simply does not work.

On Tuesday night, Bristol Futures Director at Bristol City Council, Stephen Hilton, welcomed the project. He said: “Projects such as SoLa Bristol demonstrate that Bristol is continuing to lead the way towards a decarbonised, resilient, and community-led energy system following its year as European Green Capital.

Bristol City Council is committed to working with residents, such as those in social housing, who can benefit the most from innovative technologies and services. It has been invaluable to work with community organisations such as Knowle West Media Centre to make engagement with these innovations fun and meaningful for those involved.”

Roger Hey, Future Networks Manager for WPD, said: “We are really pleased with the results of this project and enormously grateful to our project partners and the Knowle West community for their time and efforts supporting SoLa Bristol.

“Tonight’s Innovation Reception has been a great opportunity to share our invaluable findings from the project with the rest of the energy industry. We are hopeful that others can now exploit the learnings to inform their own projects and move closer to a smarter energy system.”

Professor Furong Li from the University of Bath said: “The SoLa Bristol systems continue their life at the Smart Grid teaching and research Laboratories at the University of Bath, providing immediate benefits to students and researchers from over 50 countries.

This is the perfect platform for the University to continue with the successful path already established by the SoLa Bristol Project. New ways of managing, trading and supplying electricity with increasing supply from local communities will be investigated, ensuring communities can benefit from low energy bills, low carbon emissions and high returns from community energy.”