As the energy transition unfolds, and we seek to increase the shares of renewables in our energy consumption, battery storage technologies are expected to grow already in the next years. Electrical contractors will be responsible for the installation of batteries and their integration with electrical systems and devices.
EuropeOn recently held a webinar for its members to better understand this emerging trend and highlight some safety and market perspectives that will underpin the scale-up of residential battery storage.
Safety, and especially fire safety, is an extremely important consideration ahead of the rise of battery storage systems in our homes. Several EuropeOn members, national electrical contractors’ associations, are involved in drafting installation guides for their members. Our webinar featured the presentation of EuropeOn’s Norwegian member Nelfo’s technical guidebook, drafted in partnership with other actors such as the local fire department. The need for safe installations was emphasised by a speaker from the Forum for European Electrical Domestic Safety (FEEDS), explaining that in the EU an estimated 30% of domestic fires have an electric source, raising to 50% when considering accidental domestic fires. The need for well-prepared installers to accompany the residential storage boom was again highlighted by our speaker from AceOn, a leading UK company in the storage market, spelling out the critical role of installers in rolling out storage solutions but also in integrating them with other technologies such as solar PV.
Keeping up with market developments is also key for electrical contractors engaging in clean energy technologies. Our second panel indeed focused on the market trends and opportunities that come with the ability to store electricity at home. ECA, EuropeOn member from the UK, opened this session by outlining their advice to installers looking to take advantage of this new market, including marketing and sales tips. On top of targeting PV owners, installers should really try to get acquainted with the new business models arising from electrical storage that can bring new revenue or lower energy bills for individual and commercial consumers. With developing markets for demand-side flexibility and response, some consumers might be better off using their storage system to provide flexibility to the grid while others might benefit more from increasing the self-consumption of their on-site PV system.
The case for storage systems, especially in combination with solar PV, or other decentralised technologies was further strengthened by the last two presentations. SolarPower Europe presented their latest “Market Outlook for Residential Battery Storage“, showing its projected rise across the EU, and highlighting some key national markets such as Germany, where high power prices and subsidies have contributed to making the business case for solar PV + storage installations. EuropeOn’s media partner KNX dug into the potential of smart homes and how storage systems can contribute. With systems such as KNX, there can be better energy management, more services to offer, and a higher integration of renewables in our electricity consumption at home but also in transport.
One of our main takeaways from these different perspectives is that electrical contractors will be in high demand as the linchpin for the deployment of storage installations and demand will be especially high for those with the most modern green and digital skills.
This new skillset will then also have to be complemented with less traditional expertise. Indeed, with the energy transition, electrical contractors will not just have to tackle new technologies and devices, but will have to usher in a new paradigm of energy consumption. The era of linear energy systems, with centralised production, is starting to make way for a new, decentralised and more circular energy system. When consumers become prosumers, our homes and buildings, where only end-use consumption took place, will change into decentralised power plants and backup generators. Electricity will be produced, consumed and shared at a local level, all the while providing bottom-up services to the system.
This entails a much busier system with more interlinkages and more integration. Electrical contractors will be at the center of this paradigm shift, enabling the smooth and efficient functioning of our new energy systems and enabling our citizens’ new relationship with energy.
Electrical professionals will need newer skills that go beyond strictly electrotechnical skills. These can range from explaining the climate benefits of their installations, to surveying properties to identify the type of installation that will bring the highest level of financial benefits to the users or just ensuring that the installation will fit with the client’s habits by carefully considering the placement inside the house or the additional devices a client might connect to his system (such as Amazon’s Alexa or other IoT devices).
At the forefront of the energy transition, electrical contractors should get ready for this new role in the energy ecosystem and for new responsibilities in the advent of climate neutrality.