Belgium: researchers say solar-plus-storage is far from becoming economically viable

New research conducted by Guilherme de Oliveira e Silva and Patrick Hendrick from the École polytechnique de Bruxelles of the Université libre de Bruxelles intends to show that the combination of solar and storage solutions in Belgium is still economically unviable, and that also a battery price reduction may not be enough to make it profitable in the near future.

The two scientists have processed a comprehensive set of data, including weather conditions and patterns of energy consumption through advanced simulators, and have come to the conclusion that, independently from how many solar panels are installed, it is impossible for a PV system in Belgium to cover more than 40% of a household’s power needs, due to the mismatch between electricity consumption and degree of solar radiation.

In order to exceed this 40% threshold, PV system owners must install a storage system. This, however, would result in higher costs. According to the researchers, in fact, for an average household consuming 3,500 kWh per year, a PV installation covering 70% of its power demand would cost approximately €15,000, which is almost the double compared to a PV systems using the grid.

Even a further reduction in storage system prices would not be sufficient to make solar-plus-storage viable, taking into account, the two researchers claim, that their price represent a small part of total installation cost.

The two scientists claim that PV in Belgium, however, can be close to grid parity if it provides up to about 30% of a household’s electricity self-sufficiency.

An alternative solution proposed by the two scientist is the switching of heating and hot water systems to electricity through the technology of storage tank. Smart appliances and the recharge of electric vehicles are also pointed out as possible solutions to use excess power.