Irish Street Community Centre's story
12kW of solar panels and 15kW of battery storage were installed between January and March 2019. The system became fully operational in mid-April. Project planning took nine months.
The installed solar panels have a warranty of 20 to 25 years and the Sonnen batteries have a warranty of 15 years.
The projected energy generation and battery storage output was estimated to be in the region of 8,750 kWh per year saving 40-45% on total electricity bills and 3,075 kg of CO2e.
Over a period of 15 years, the energy savings from the system are expected to be in the region of £15,000.
The system also will generate money from excess power delivered to the grid. Based on the first two years of evaluation the income generated will be in the region of £3,000 over the life of the battery system.
Based on carbon savings of 3,075 kg per annum the anticipated overall carbon savings will be in the region of 37,250 to 45,000 kg CO2e.
Capital costs were £21,500 for the battery system and £7,100 for the solar panel installation, giving a total cost of £28,600. The ongoing lifetime costs are expected to be very low. To date, there have been no additional maintenance costs.
The Sonnen battery system data is monitored and evaluated by The Electric Storage Company based in Belfast. A system dashboard shows real-time energy information of the system and is accessed remotely by both the staff at Irish Street Community Centre and the Energy team within Derry City and Strabane Council. The dashboard also shows info-graphics of kWh and Co2 savings.
Useful learnings from Irish Street Community Centre
I carried out research on battery storage projects and tried to find similar research projects that worked well within the UK and specifically in NI. The Carbon Trust, Energy Saving Trust and Centre of Renewable Technologies based in Ulster University provided some background information on the subject.
This project was funded through the Interreg NPA programme so I was working with project partners across Europe and an associate partner from this project was based in Halifax, Nova Scotia. Our project partners in Karelia University in Finland, the Ecology Action Centre in Halifax and Energy Agency in the Faroe Islands had some experience with solar panel installations in some of their buildings so this was useful to share best practices and learning experiences with organisations who had a working knowledge of the technology.
The supplier of the smart battery technology The Energy Storage Company provided a lot of information about the battery storage products. The project was innovative in the sense that data taken from the PV panels and battery system was going to be monitored in real-time as part of a Fit and Tell Study. The live information from the system was displayed on an energy dashboard. The dashboard displayed renewable PV generation data, building consumption data, battery storage capacity, input from the grid and energy exported to the grid. The most recent update to the dashboard provides information in an infographic format, showing the energy saved in a user-friendly manner.
As the system was installed in a community centre, we met regularly with the team who worked in this building. We had regular updates on the progress of the project and explained how the system would work in practice. The staff within the centre were very helpful and enthusiastic with regards to the technology and how it would help them reduce their energy costs in a very innovative and unique manner.
The main challenges related to timescales, to have the project installed and data monitored in a timely manner for reporting purposes.
Irish Street Community Centre's metrics
kWh of energy stored in the battery storage system.
CO2 emissions reduced within the system.
kWh imported and exported to the grid.