Smart Combination: PV, Storage Systems, E-Mobility and Heat Pumps

Industry News – April 9, 2024

Clever ways for private consumers to become independent in terms of electricity, heat and transportation – and new business opportunities for installers and systems providers.

19.3 million – that’s the number of residential buildings in Germany. Over the next 20 years, more than half of these buildings will need to be renovated and fitted with photovoltaics (PV). But this is not just true for Germany – residential buildings play a central role in PV deployment all across Europe. More and more buildings that already have solar panels are now being equipped with storage systems, a combination that is becoming the standard for new installations. This allows the needs-based use of the generated solar power.

In Europe, it becoming more common for newly installed PV systems to be complemented by a storage system. SolarPower Europe, the European industry association, predicts that the total storage capacity will increase to 32.2 gigawatt hours by 2026 – enough to power nearly four million European homes.

Electrification of heat and transportation increases

Can the solar power generated on the roofs of residential homes and stored in storage systems be used for anything other than domestic electricity? Of course! To charge e-cars, for example. In 2023, around 15 percent of all registrations in Europe were battery electric passenger cars. The combination of PV and storage systems is perfect for e-cars: The German government’s Charging Infrastructure Master Plan (“Masterplan Ladeinfrastruktur”), for example, is based on the assumption that about 85 percent of all charging takes place at home or at work. This allows battery electric vehicles to be charged with low-cost, climate-friendly solar power generated at home.

Solar power can also be used for heating – for example, by powering a heat pump. Last year, heat pump sales in Germany were up 51 percent over the previous year. With the adoption of the EU Heat Pump Action Plan, this development will continue at the European level.

PV system, residential storage, e-car and heat pump make an effective combination of units that generate, store and consume electricity.

Components and trades go hand in hand

For the various components to work together seamlessly, they need to communicate perfectly. The industry offers a wide range of components – from PV installations, smart EV-chargers and smart meters to energy management systems, scalable battery storage systems, multifunctional inverters and heat pumps. These products must be easy to use, efficient, versatile and easy to integrate.

However, building a comprehensive energy system requires the smooth interaction between all components, as well as between the electrical, plumbing, HVAC and many other trades. Knowing how to combine individual components effectively requires a level of expertise that goes beyond that of a solar specialist or an electrician. At the same time, the growing demand is creating new business opportunities that need to be addressed.

Optimize self-consumption, relieve grids

Our electricity system needs to be extremely flexible to ensure a renewable 24/7 energy supply. Flexible small consumers that have their own home energy systems can make a significant contribution to balancing power generation while optimizing their self-consumption and save costs with the help of a home energy management system (HEMS). HEMS help optimize electricity consumption by shifting the times large consumers, such as electric cars or heat pumps, are powered, and by ensuring that self-generated solar power is used first. Most HEMS can be customized and monitored digitally. There are several HEMS on the market that differ in terms of performance and compatibility with different devices. Around 950,000 HEMS had been installed in Europe by the end of 2022. According to Berg Insight a market research institute, that number could reach five million by 2027.

Dynamic electricity tariffs: supply meets demand

Another way to better align supply and demand are dynamic electricity tariffs, which means that consumption is adjusted to the current price of electricity, which changes based on supply and demand. E-cars could then be charged and heat pumps could be operated when the electricity from the grid is cheapest. The EU’s electricity market reform will require all member states to make it mandatory for their utility companies to offer dynamic electricity tariffs to private consumers. Poland already implemented the rule in 2023.

Switching to a dynamic electricity tariff requires a smart meter to be installed to track consumption. The amount of money that can be saved with this system varies greatly. According to a study conducted by r2b energy consulting, under ideal conditions, the cost of charging an electric car in winter can be reduced by 88 percent.

Smart combinations at The smarter E Europe

The latest trends and innovations in the fields of PV, storage systems, e-mobility and heat pumps will be presented at The smarter E Europe, Europe’s largest alliance of exhibitions for the energy industry. Across 206,000 square meters, 2,800 exhibitors will be presenting their renewable energy supply solutions and products from the areas of electricity, heat and transportation. 115,000 trade visitors from around the world are expected to attend. The smarter E Europe unites the four exhibitions Intersolar Europe, ees Europe, Power2Drive Europe and EM-Power Europe and will take place from June 19–21 in Munich. At these exhibitions, visitors will learn more about the latest applications and intelligent combination solutions. They can also expand their expert knowledge at the four accompanying conferences, seven topical exhibition forums as well as numerous side events.

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