Understanding the differences and choosing the right energy storage solution
In a nutshell: Virtual batteries present an excellent and cost-effective method for storing surplus solar energy as credit, applicable anytime and transferable to other properties. In contrast, physical batteries are more appropriate for maximum grid-independency and off-grid applications. Both battery alternatives suit new and existing solar installations and significantly reduce electricity bills.
This article elucidates the concept of virtual batteries, their benefits, and instances when a physical battery might be the preferred option. We will also mention some Spanish electricity providers offering virtual battery services.
Virtual batteries: An overview
Virtual batteries (and their variations, e.g., digital/virtual wallets) represent an inventive approach to solar energy storage, enabling solar system owners to store and employ excess energy generated by their solar panels.
Here’s how virtual batteries function:
During daylight hours, solar panels produce electricity, with a portion being consumed by the property and the surplus fed back into the grid. Virtual batteries store this excess energy as monetary credit in a digital wallet (provided by the electricity provider). Users can then utilize these credits to decrease their energy bills or even transfer them to other properties. Rather than directly storing energy, virtual batteries depend on the grid for managing and balancing energy consumption. Virtual batteries’ primary advantage is maximizing surplus energy usage, ensuring 100% utilization of solar panel output.
Advantages of virtual batteries
In this section, we delineate the specific benefits virtual batteries hold over traditional physical battery storage:
Adaptability: Virtual batteries offer considerable flexibility regarding when and where the stored value can be used. The accumulated monetary balance can be applied to any month’s energy bill (e.g., generate solar energy year-round at a vacation house and use it when needed) and transferred to other properties owned by the same individual. Physical batteries, conversely, can only store energy for a limited duration (a few months) and in the same location.
Cost Reductions: Virtual batteries can notably lower energy bills. By storing excess energy’s monetary value, they can entirely offset energy expenses, resulting in energy consumption costs as low as €0. Physical batteries may not always provide the same level of savings due to limited storage capacity.
Effortless Integration: Virtual batteries can be seamlessly integrated with existing solar panel installations, making them an appealing option for those seeking to enhance their energy storage solution. Physical batteries may necessitate more comprehensive modifications to the solar installation and could have space limitations.
Multi-Property Utilization: A primary advantage of virtual batteries is their capacity to offset energy expenses across various properties. The stored monetary balance can be used to pay for energy bills at different locations, provided they are owned by the same individual. This is particularly advantageous for those with multiple residences or businesses with several locations. In contrast, physical batteries are tied to a specific location and cannot offer this benefit. This service also depends on the cloud storage company.
No Physical Upkeep: Virtual batteries do not demand any physical maintenance or replacement, as they exist solely as a digital balance. Physical batteries, on the other hand, have a finite lifespan and will eventually need replacement or repair.
Situations where physical batteries are preferable
Despite virtual batteries’ benefits, there are circumstances where physical batteries are more fitting or the sole option:
Backup Power Requirements: Only physical batteries can supply electricity during grid power outages (virtual batteries only operate as long as the electricity grid does).
Off-Grid Implementations: If an energy storage solution is needed for an off-grid system, a physical battery is the only viable choice.
Energy Autonomy: Physical batteries enable on-site storage of surplus solar energy, providing true energy independence. Autonomy up to 95% is possible with
Virtual battery options in Spain
Several electricity providers currently offer virtual battery services, including CyE Energia, EDP, Próxima Energía, Iberdrola, Hola Luz, Factor Energía, and Octopus Energy. Each company has its own terms and conditions for virtual battery services, and it is essential to analyze the purchase and sale prices of excess energy and consider energy consumption patterns to determine whether a virtual battery is suitable for your solar panel installation.
We would love to help you!
Choosing the right energy storage solution can be complex. At RAD Energy, our team of experts is here to provide more information and help you choose the most optimal battery option based on your energy consumption and other relevant factors. Don’t hesitate to reach out to us for assistance in finding the best solution for your energy needs: firstname.lastname@example.org