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March 21, 2022

Energy for the future: What will the ‘Boiler 2.0’ look like?

Aceleron’s circular economy energy storage system, Offgen, is the answer, says Carlton Cummins, CTO and co-founder.

With gas boilers in the UK being phased out from 2025, the race is on to find a reliable, long-term and carbon-neutral alternative. Storing renewable energy for use even when the sun isn’t shining or the wind isn’t blowing has, without doubt, a significant part to play. 

Using a battery energy storage system such as Aceleron’s Offgen, combined with renewable technology (solar being the more obvious choice), enables renewable energy to be stored as electricity, providing space heating, hot water and power for every socket and appliance in the home. 

And, with sales of EVs steadily rising, this will also work to offset the power needed to charge the car(s) parked outside.

Growing with the household

A particular drawback with boilers is their inability to ‘grow with the family’. If a home is extended - to accommodate a growing family, for instance, the boiler and/or water tank may need replacing (even if it’s relatively new) to meet increased demand.  

The beauty of Offgen is that it is modular in design. If demand for power or energy capacity increases, it is possible to just add more batteries without the upheaval and waste of stripping everything out and starting again.

Energy storage is also a cleantech force ‘multiplier’; if a property has other clean technology installed, such as heat pumps, the renewable energy stored in the batteries can also be used to power the heat pump - or other energy-efficient products.

Considering the rapid rise in technology used within the home and the increased demand for EVs, the power requirements of an average family home are only going to rise. This means that connection to the grid is still necessary for the majority -but Offgen will allow for significantly reduced reliance on non-renewable power sources.

Combatting battery waste -  Offgen is a serviceable energy storage system

With so much focus currently on energy storage, we must not forget that increased battery waste is a very serious concern and consideration must be given to what will happen to a system or its parts when it no longer has a use in its current state.

True to our company ethos, the Offgen is repairable and upgradeable which, with the proper care, updates and maintenance, can match the service life of solar PV. Individual parts can be upgraded as technology advances and the components that need replacing over time are easily recycled.

The service engineer responsible for the system installation will also be able to provide upkeep servicing - just like with existing boilers. This will involve preventative maintenance on power management components as well as updates to the management systems to course correct any performance trends. 

Offgen and the grid

There are times when there is an abundance of clean energy (hot, sunny days for instance) and little or no demand - which is where Offgen and the grid can work together.

A home can use Offgen to store excess clean energy either for its own use or for selling onto the grid, recharging automatically during off-peak hours and capitalising on cheaper tariffs. This setup creates a more flexible energy system and, over time, will allow the homeowner to recoup some of the initial installation costs. 

If as many properties as possible have these ‘clean energy buckets’, there is the potential to create a virtual power plant - a distributed network of batteries that would enable the grid to send excess renewable energy to various locations during low-demand, high-generation periods. Providing extra renewable energy in this way will help to decarbonise the grid over time. 

Investing in an energy storage system

Admittedly, the upfront cost of investing in an energy storage system such as Offgen is significantly more than a new boiler would cost but there is a longer game at play with energy storage.

Due to its serviceability and capacity for continuous upgrade, Offgen has the potential for an infinite lifespan. It is also something that can move with the homeowner, meaning that once it’s bought, it can belong to the owner for life. 

Not only is clean energy ‘free’, it is also the only way that we are going to be able to reduce our carbon emissions, no longer relying on fossil fuels to power and heat our homes. 

We have a little way to go before such a system is easily accessible and in place but energy storage is being adopted at a very rapid rate. According to the International Energy Agency’s (IEA) Energy Storage Tracking Report (last updated in November 2021) it is expected that installed global energy storage capacity will reach 585 GW by 2030. To put this into context, 17GW was reported globally in 2020.

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