Solarwatt´s MyReserve battery storage system: Modular design for fast installation – growing markets UK & Ireland, Pol Spronck says

12/13/16, 2:10 PM -

Expert interview (part two): Pol Spronck, International Sales Manager of Solarwatt discusses easy installation, reduced prices and costs and the UK and Ireland market for the battery energy storage system MyReserve.

Pol Spronck in the plant of Solarwatt in Dresden.

pv Europe: What battery cells are you using for MyReserve?

Pol Spronck: The MyReserve manufacturing plants in Dresden and Frechen, near Cologne, use selected components of the highest quality from outside suppliers. These include nickel-cobalt-manganese cells from a leading Korean manufacturer. At present these cells are seen as the most efficient available on the global market. They are identical to cells used in electrical vehicles produced by a high-end German vehicle manufacturer. The automotive industry has always been important in the development of lithium ion cells as it has economies of scale based on much higher volumes than those in today’s stationary home storage applications. That means we can offer high-quality batteries at attractive prices.  This will remain an important pricing factor right across our industry.

What is the price for MyReserve?

Recently we introduced a smaller storage product with 2.2kW at very accessible prices, so people can install MyReserve with their PV system and benefit immediately from solar + storage, increasing battery capacity later. We focus on consistent modularity with all our products. Modular means you can add batteries in 2.2kW increments, currently up to 8.8kW. In Germany we offer a Flexi-Start package for under €6,000.  It contains a 2.2kW MyReserve 500 battery storage system, an AC sensor, efficiency software and 10 glass-glass solar modules of 270 watts each, with a 30-year warranty on the dual-glass PV modules. We think this offers the best cover in the market and shows our confidence in our products. The MyReserve is compatible with nearly every string inverter and can be easily expanded. We are due to launch MyReserve in UK and Ireland in early 2017, following a number of pilot installations, and expect prices will be similar to those for end-consumers in Germany. To this would be added transport and distribution costs and bear in mind exchange-rate differences.

What about installations costs?

Apart from accessibility, MyReserve’s modular design makes installation fast and easy, which means lower installation prices for end consumers. MyReserve comprises two detachable batteries and the case, each weighing less than 25kg. Robust design means it can be transported safely and installed by only one person in about 30 minutes. We attach great importance to developing an easy-to-handle, relatively lightweight storage system as this is directly reflected in the installation costs. Compared to other storage products it’s easy and fast to install.

Do the operators there need specific permissions or certificates to connect the system to the grid?

MyReserve is certified to comply with all international safety standards and guidelines. MyReserve’s DC system is located behind the meter, between the PV array and the inverter. For retrofits, homeowners and installers need not apply for G59/83 permissions. For grid-connected systems in the UK, these certificates are required for inverters at the time of PV installation and can cost up to £1,000. Our Energy Manager, installed in the meter cabinet, can communicate with the inverter immediately.

Are you also offering inverters to combine MyReserve with the bidirectional battery?

Not at present but we will likely offer this in 2018. In supplying both individual products and complete PV + storage packages, Solarwatt sells a range of high-quality inverters, some of which bearing the SOLARWATT brand. MyReserve is charged by solar PV panels and can operate with nearly all string inverters. We have developments on the way for charging in two directions and this is part of our R&D function. Solarwatt employs around 300 people including an R&D team of 60 – we focus on R&D to lead innovation in this industry. This will include bidirectional charging as we are always looking to improve our products and add functionality.

How do you assess the PV and storage market development in UK?

This year has been interesting for PV in UK. We saw a sharp decline in installations but I am confident the market will pick up again in the near future. We already see installers starting more projects. In storage I see huge potential, especially in retrofitting, because up to 70 percent of residential PV system owners are not even aware of storage product possibilities yet. Our distribution partner Wind & Sun is collaborating with over 600 installers worldwide, of whom 400 order regularly and at least 100 installers are interested in supplying MyReserve battery systems.

What about Ireland?

Ireland will most probably announce a feed-in-tariff in 2017. We expect sales of at least 3 to 5 MW solar modules in Ireland and Northern Ireland in 2017, depending on when the FiT effectively kicks in and whether ‘grandfathering’ is possible (whereby a project would receive the FiT retroactively when installed before the FiT officially starts). BHC Distributors is building its market and will have a network of installers covering in Northern Ireland and the Republic with our complete product portfolio of PV+Storage+Energy management products.

What role do utilities play?

In the UK and Ireland and in some other countries, we are talking to a number of utilities. Our collaboration with E.ON got a lot of attention. Very large providers are always looking to be innovative and solar + storage solutions are attracting attention. Utilities have high fixed costs but they cannot compete on cost with a small local provider. In today’s challenging markets they should resist any temptation to choose the cheapest product but should be offering high-quality instead. In the long term this brings better value and happier end-customers. Considering dual-glass panels with MyReserve would be a wise choice for any utility.

Interviewed by Hans-Christoph Neidlein

See part 1 of the interview:

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