Households with solar panels and batteries installed can earn savings on their winter bills for excess energy generated in the summer
Shell has become the latest energy supplier to launch a flexible tariff, allowing householders to potentially earn money back for helping to balance supply and demand for the power grid.
The company yesterday announced a "first of its kind" scheme designed to harness the benefits of integrating solar panels with battery storage systems in the home.
The Solar Storage tariff is being launched initially as a trial by Shell Energy Retail alongside the energy giant's battery storage business sonnen. The service allows homeowners to earn solar bill-credits on excess electricity generated in the summer, which can then be used to reduce bills in the winter.
Customers with solar panels and a sonnenBatterie - which start at around £6,500 fully installed - operating in their homes who sign up to the new tariff could earn up to a maximum of £150 in solar credits over the summer to claim back on their winter bills, Shell said.
The vouchers would come in addition to estimated savings from operating a home solar power and storage system that would result even without the new tariff, the company explained.
A typical UK home with solar installed uses around a third of the power produced by its PV panels, and Shell claims installing a sonnen battery alongside a solar PV system would allow customers to cover around 75 per cent of their annual electricity usage with onsite solar generation, with the Solar Storage tariff then opening up opportunities for further savings.
Shell estimates its tariff and accompanying battery system is suitable for around 825,000 UK homes which currently have, or are considering having, solar panels installed.
Colin Crooks, CEO of Shell Energy Retail, said he hoped the new offering could accelerate the uptake of home battery and solar systems that can help reduce pressure on the UK grid, cut consumer energy bills, and reduce greenhouse gas emissions.
"Home battery technology and smart tariffs could play a key role in helping UK homes become net-zero by enabling them to consume more of their self-produced energy and balancing out seasonal variations in solar power generation," he explained. "The benefit of a solar panel on your home's roof increases when you add a home battery, and again when you add a smart tariff like this. It ensures no electricity is wasted and the owner of the solar panel gets the maximum benefit. In effect customers will be loaning out excess electricity in the summer and claiming it back, through bill credits, when they need it in the winter."
An initial trial of the new tariff found that home batteries made homes with solar panels largely self-sufficient during the summertime when days are longer and skies clearer, but that customers were concerned about the performance and benefits of their PV panels in the winter months.
Gavin Stokes, sonnen country director for UK and Ireland, said the new tariff "comes at the perfect time as customers in the UK are recognising that renewable energy starts at home".
"Thousands of homes in Britain have been using solar panels for years but now they can reap the benefits in winter, which is a first in the UK," he said.
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