Jämtkraft, a municipal electric company in Östersund, Sweden, announced December 13 the launch of a “cloud-based” energy storage for residential customers. For a cost of 20 SEK ($2.50) per month the customer can deposit excess power from its solar installations and use it later.
This creative approach is a win-win. For the utility it helps solve a seasonal problem. Being so far north the shifts in temperature and light between summer and winter are big. Peak demand is in the winter. Using excess power from customers in the summer will reduce the need for hydro power. Instead the water dams can fill up during the summer and be used for power generation during the winter.
For a customer with solar panels it is a win being able to save excess power during the summer instead of having to invest in a home battery storage system. Jämtkraft has made it easy for the customer to sign up and use a cloud-based platform to check status.
One may argue that the issue of seasonal balancing is just a special case and that Jämtkraft has the advantage of hydro power with dams gives them the advantage of a large and low cost energy storage resource. Nevertheless, the approach serves as an example of a win-win solution for local challenges taking advantage of local opportunities.
For areas where the balancing challenge of variable resources is much more short-term, hourly and daily, local utilities may consider developing a community type of battery storage, similar to community solar, or, if available, a pumped hydro system to provide customers with excess solar generation to store the excess. Well designed it could be a win-win as for Jämtkraft and its customers.