Artificial Intelligence: Using Home-specific Weather Data With AI to Boost Lithium Solar Batteries

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Batteries for solar are expensive. Using them optimally can extend their life and improve return on investment.

The usage of solar batteries varies widely from home to home. That’s because each home is different – from the roof’s orientation and pitch to nearby trees that cast a shadow on the panels, even weather conditions. Optimizing solar battery usage to adjust for such variables, amidst real-time and in changing weather conditions, is a challenge. IBM (NYSE: IBM) is combining weather data and AI to solve this.  (WHICH-50)

IBM’s Weather Company, Relectrify, and Selectronic work together

“The amount of value that a battery gives you depends entirely on how you run it,” says Dr. Julian De Hoog, Technical Lead – Energy & IoT at IBM Research, Australia. And how you run it means you can use a battery for multiple different purposes and you can use it to store your excess solar energy.”

The value a home-owner can extract from a solar battery is a function of its longevity and efficiency, according to Rod Scott, CEO of inverter manufacturer Selectronic.

Another participant in the project was energy storage provider Relectrify.

Using AI and weather data from IBM’s The Weather Company, the researchers set out to systematically orchestrate batteries, solar panels, inverters, and cloud-based services to get the best out of a solar installation.

Optimizing the solar batteries – home by home

The Weather Company generates advance 24-hour weather forecasts, unique for individual localities and buildings. This data includes metrics such as solar irradiation, temperature, humidity and wind speed.

An AI model crunches this weather data along with the unique physical features of the home and its environs. The result: the AI works out the best possible utilization of the battery inverters and solar panels over the following 24 hours to optimize the battery usage.

The bottom line

Payback on a typical solar system is now five years or less, observes Dr. Hoog in a blog. That’s because of a decline in solar PV costs. The icing on the cake: Warranties lasting 10 years (inverters) or 20 years (solar panels).

By adjusting the equipment to account for a home’s unique profile, the homeowner can boost both returns on investment and longevity of equipment, especially batteries.

“The cost of battery storage depends quite a bit on the usage patterns from one home to another …,” writes Dr. Hoog.  “But with our forecasts and optimal control systems, we hope that batteries will become affordable sooner, for more people, and allow us to enable a faster transition to renewables.”

Related Story: Artificial Intelligence: IBM’s Debater AI Technology Set for Commercialization

Image Credit: Flickr                                                   

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