In this article we discuss the real energy saving with photovoltaic: using self-produced energy when you need it and someday share it with your Energy Community.
PV panels installation is an increasingly popular choice. Beside the proven reliability of these systems, our awareness towards environmental issues is growing and it represents an important lever for choosing photovoltaic panels to provide electricity to houses or condos.
We should also consider the financial side: installing PV panels allows to significantly cut the costs of your electricity bills.
Let’s analyse in detail the savings and all the arguments in favour of photovoltaic for our energy supply.
Self-consumption: a winning choice to save money on your bills
Installing a PV system on your rooftop or on the rooftop of a condo is particularly convenient when solar panels can provide energy to satisfy the domestic demand of electrical power.
Self-consumption has several important advantages in terms of costs saving. By self-producing your electric power you will save on consumption costs. Each kilowatt-hour taken from the energy supplier has a cost (which includes taxes and system charges). A PV system, sized basing on your domestic needs, will allow you to reduce the energy taken from the grid, thus saving money on your bills.
Surely you have to face an initial investment (nowadays lower than in the past), but it will be paid back in a reasonable time through a big energy saving.
To give a concrete example, a family of three living in a medium size house will probably choose a 3kWp solar system to have an efficient power supply. This kind of system costs between 5.000 and 8.000 euros, plus 2.000 euros for maintenance, spread over the panels lifespan: 25 years. As you can see, the initial investment is not that high, since costs will be amortized in 25 years.
Furthermore, the cost of the energy produced with photovoltaic is much cheaper. The gross price per kilowatt-hour for traditional energy proposed by free market suppliers rates between 0.19 and 0.27 €/kWh. The cost of photovoltaic energy and self-consumption rates between 0,12 and 0,16 €/kWh.
Selling energy back to grid, is that really convenient?
A PV system installed on our own rooftop can generate energy depending on several factors, such as size and technology of the panels and the latitude where we live.
Electricity generation with a PV system depends on the day: the system works at its full capacity on clear sunny days, whereas on cloudy days it will get more difficult to generate solar energy. Despite this, keep in mind that even on cloudy days a PV system can generate electricity. In the night only, it has no production capacity: the total absence of sun doesn’t allow the generation of electricity.
This can cause an imbalance: during sunny days the system will generate a high quantity of electricity, which will not be used immediately; during the night the panels will not generate electricity at all, although power will still be necessary to light up the house or to keep some appliances running. A waste of energy during the day, a lack of energy in the night, forcing people to take energy from the grid when it gets dark.
Feeding energy back into the grid is a solution that partially solves the problem. It’s an agreement with the supplier that allows you to feed the generated but not used energy back into the grid. This is possible as long as the production energy centre, your house with the PV system, is connected to the grid.
This way, the self-produced energy is actually sold, meaning that each Kwh fed to the grid will be paid. Please notice that nowadays, with no incentives, what you get back for each energy unit will be lower – almost 60% – than the price you pay to buy a Kwh from the grid, which is not particularly convenient.
PV system with battery storage: storing in order to use all the energy generated from solar panels
A remarkably interesting solution is the PV system with battery storage. In other words, a PV system equipped with a battery to store the surplus energy produced during the sunniest days and use it when the system can’t supply energy (when it gets dark or on cloudy days).
The major advantage of a PV system with storage is to be able to self-generate clean energy and store it to improve self-consumption: this results in a lower withdrawal of energy from the grid, reducing the costs of your bills.
How to maximize energy saving from PV systems?
To take full advantage from your PV system you should become part of an Energy Community. This way you could exchange your surplus within a community of people like you, and also buy energy from it when your own production is not sufficient. This so-called collective self-consumption will help you to minimize, or even bring to zero, the energy bought from the provider, thus cutting your bills.
Self-generating electricity represents a virtuous behaviour for individuals and communities, enduring over time.
This is part of a sustainable revolution which doesn’t involve huge economic efforts. Anyway, the payback time for this effort is reasonably short, and the existing tax benefits make the investment even more interesting.
Moreover, holding self-generated energy into a storage system is becoming an increasingly common solution. It guarantees a greater independence from traditional power sources (“large and concentrated”), which are highly inefficient, wasting large quantities of energy (e.g. during its transport) and they rely on sources and raw materials which are not environmentally friendly in the medium term. Regalgrid® technology optimizes self-consumption for individuals and energy communities through patented algorithms, by managing the involved energy assets at their best. This way we speed up the return on investment process for each system, providing a concrete example of technology at the service of circular economy.