A while back, we talked about the Duck Curve. This is a graph that shows how wind and solar energy affect central energy demand, and which, due to the energy transition, is looking more and more like the side view of a duck. This duck, while presenting many opportunities for solar energy, also presents a challenge for energy supply. Below we explain more.
An unexpected turn in the forest of energy supply
The energy transition is making household and business power consumption unpredictable for grid operators. In the past, when everyone was completely dependent on the energy grid, it was easy for grid operators to respond to energy needs. After all, there were no other energy sources. But now that we are also generating more and more of our own energy, the demand for power from fossil fuels during the day is decreasing. At the same time, supply is increasing as we feed excess power back into the grid. As a result, the power grid is becoming increasingly full during the day, while at night it struggles to keep up with energy demand when the solar panels are off.
A search for the holy grail
Policymakers are in full discussion about this problem, on which the following solutions seem to keep coming up:
- Reconstructing the power grid so that electricity arrives where it is needed;
- Using the space on the power grid more efficiently, by avoiding load at peak times through ‘rush hour avoidance’;
- Increasing flexible capacity, by matching energy consumption with energy production.
The mesmerizing game of supply and demand
We, too, follow developments closely and work daily on innovative and affordable solutions to get the most out of solar energy. Looking at the above solutions, we actually see some problems:
- Expansion of the power grid allows for better capture of daytime feed-in. In the long run, however, this only exacerbates the duck curve problem because more electricity is already being stored than is needed. Thus, the issue is not about generating too much electricity during the day, but rather at times of low consumption.
- Rush hour avoidance—avoiding power consumption at peak times – reduces power consumption during peak times and the load on the power grid. But this trick only works temporarily. New peak moments will appear, and the old ones are merely shifted. In addition, the duck curve is caused by high solar production during the day, while the high consumption is only towards the evening. No matter how you look at it, the challenge is during the day.
- Flexible capacity is a solution that will be most successful in the long run. By matching energy consumption with energy production, power is consumed when it is generated. This way you make smarter use of the power generated. For example, factories using wind power can scale up production during times of high winds, and households with solar panels can turn on the electric devices when the sun shines. This way, less is fed back into the grid, and it does not get overloaded.
The latter solution significantly reduces the Duck Curve, but the trade-off between supply and demand is not as easy as it seems. Electricity production often cannot simply be adjusted quickly or automatically, but must be scaled down or scaled up depending on demand and weather conditions. Because of this, supply and demand will never fully match.
The fearless hero of the energy transition
Let us look again at the problem: we generate the most energy during the times we need it the least, and generate the least during the times we need it the most. This is inconvenient.
So in this story, the challenge for the future of energy supply will be to perfectly align energy consumption and energy production. This is a tricky job. Unless you add a third element: storing the energy generated. Here an ideal role is reserved for the home battery. The hero of the energy transition.
In the battle against the clock to save the energy grid from overload and free consumers from high energy bills, the home battery is proving its added value. Indeed, in our view, there is no need for more power space, avoidance behavior or dancing on a fine line between supply and demand. Instead, there is a need for smarter use of generated power and using it when it is convenient for you. And in this, the home battery is the solution.