Martyn Berry, Director EMEA Service & Support at Enphase Energy, looks at the rise of domestic energy management technologies and argues that it is the beginning of a long-term trend.
The solar industry and home automation are constantly changing, and like most technologies they are continuously improving. They get smarter, cheaper, easier and more integrated to use each year. Finding clever and simple ways to connect the two technologies has become increasingly important.
Energy management in the home is rapidly emerging as a major opportunity in programs geared towards energy efficiency. As such the home energy consumption has become a primary focus area due to the increasing awareness of the ever rising energy prices and the environmental impact of greenhouse gas emissions which are the largest contributors to climate change. Modern home-buyers are very conscious of their carbon footprint, and are looking for ways to reduce it. Housing developers can use energy management in combination with home automation as a means to address the issues of climate change, rising energy bills, resource depletion, safety, health, and other environmental concerns.
Not surprisingly, several leading renewable energy installers across the country are introducing energy management packages. We are only seeing the first wave of this growing trend – in the future, energy management inside any dwelling will become a norm, rather than just a differentiated, and differentiating, offering.
Enphase entered the energy management conversation in 2015. We introduced our vision for the Enphase Energy Management System with the promise of integrating solar generation, energy storage, load monitoring and smart grid intelligence into what will create the smart, connected home. More recently Enphase has launched a key component of its energy management system – the Envoy-S Solution.
It is a difficult time for the solar PV market in UK but we are looking beyond the next few months at the bigger picture. From a technological perspective, Enphase is developing, and deploying a new fully integrated energy system that has generation, control, storage and management built in. Our systemic approach to power generation and management provides smart, affordable and renewable energy. It shifts consumers’ relationship with solar from one based on revenue generation through FiTs to optimised energy consumption – thereby helping to tackle consumer bills. When the FIT was high, it represented a clear ROI pathway. Now the structure of the offer has changed. With FITs set to be low, the main benefit for consumers is the ability to use more of what they generate or use it differently. With electricity bills soaring, the potential financial savings this route offers should not be understated.
The Enphase system brings together solar panels with microinverters, a plug-and-play battery and the Envoy-S communications gateway. The Enphase AC Battery has recently received a lot of attention, but Envoy-S Metered is the quiet achiever. It is smart, versatile, and it acts as the foundation for the whole system, delivering user-friendly generation and consumption data to the homeowner.
There is a quite good awareness and understanding around energy, but what is really missing is for each and every home to have total transparency of energy. Seeing how much power is used, when it’s used, what it’s used for, where it’s coming from – your PV system, the grid, a battery, with the possibility to control the entire process.
That is the real game changer. That is exactly what an intelligent hardware and software like the Envoy-S Metered, and the free Enlighten platform that comes with it, do.
The Envoy-S Metered serves as the local brain for the system. It uses its intelligence to make life simpler for both installers and system owners, to enable in-depth monitoring, energy usage insights, remote update capabilities and load management. The Envoy-S connects each component to create one seamless home energy solution, smart, simple, and powerful. The Envoy-S collects real-time data – monitoring solar production and energy consumption – and keeps the entire system in constant communication with the ability to balance generation, storage and load.
Easy-to-understand enhanced data and engagement allows home-owners to see not only their PV production, but also to understand their energy use closely monitoring their household electricity consumption. The Envoy-S provides data granularity of 15-minute solar generation and energy consumption monitoring.
Having such detailed insight into the daily supply/demand energy equation will allow more specific, and therefore effective, solutions to energy needs to be identified. Everyone’s household consumption is different so there is no “one size fits all” solution. Having the knowledge of current habits will enable any future solar PV addition or storage system to correctly sized, or perhaps trigger a simple change of behaviour.
Attributes of the Enphase Envoy-S Metered
- Consumption monitoring and increased metering accuracy for total energy insight;
- Compatible with all existing PV systems and can even be installed in homes without solar;
- Bi-directional communications – which lets Envoy-S adapt to future utility requirements;
- Flexible networking options including integrated Wi-Fi
- Enable to size and add an Enphase Storage System at a later stage – and control it.
But this is only the beginning. We are at the forefront of an acceleration of solar becoming more an integral component in how consumers will manage their overall energy use. The benefit and need to better control energy consumption will complement solar and further support its acceptance. Many improvements and enhancements destined to hit the marketplace are being developed especially also related to the opportunities brought by the Internet-Of-Things.
The Enphase Envoy-S is just the first in a series of new products. Homes with Envoy-S Metered and Enlighten will gain access to an ecosystem of energy apps that add value to the solution and will only continue to expand over time. The Enphase’s integrated energy management system will revolutionise consumers’ relationship with energy, allowing the use when it is more convenient and cost effective for them. This marks a significant change, with people directly interacting with energy rather than passively using it, out of sight, out of mind.
We are at the rise of a more conscious holistic approach to energy. A new season with an enhanced pulse on our production, consumption and spend and where people can control their outcomes. A season where ecosystems are smart, not only efficient, and our assets are intelligent, can learn and improve, not only work.