Last updated on November 19th, 2019
What does “behind the meter” really mean? To better understand this term, it’s essential to first understand solar energy as a renewable energy concept.
What does Behind the Meter Truly Mean?
There is no doubt the use of solar energy has gained grip across different sectors globally. As energy rates continue to surge over time, different people are increasingly looking for alternative sources of energy and ways to reduce their expenditure on electricity bills. Clean energy can help reduce wastes and better manage how energy is consumed. Register for our renewable energy community to help do your part in clean energy.
Different alternative energy blogs including this one have written resources that explain the numerous advantages of going green. Solar energy is renewable energy that can considerably reduce dependency on fossil fuels that are increasingly destroying the environment because of the greenhouse gases they emit. Going solar can significantly reduce air pollution and help protect and conserve the ecosystem.
The effects of using non-renewable energy sources are many and adverse. Clean energy can significantly help lower energy costs, lead to improved health conditions and lower exposure to fatal diseases that are caused by the shift in weather patterns and climate change. Different governments have created solar energy incentive programs to encourage people to use solar energy.
So, back to the question, what is “behind the meter?”
Behind the meter is a technology that uses renewable or solar energy system such as Photovoltaic solar panels to generate power and is designed for a single building or facility. The system is paired with the energy load of a building and is positioned to supply the tenant in the building with power directly. Behind the meter system allows the owner first to use the energy that is generated by the solar system before using the energy supplied from the grid.
Behind the meter system operates as a large uninterruptible power supply (UPS) within a building. It helps charge its batteries from renewables and buys any extra energy as needed from the grid. It helps to directly reduce the amount of energy purchased by the building which is estimated to cut electricity bills costs by 80%. Behind the meter system is ideal for owner-occupied buildings that consume much energy and poses more challenges for tenant-occupied buildings since it requires the building owner to agree with each tenant for additional meters.
Some of the most fundamental components of behind the meter system include:
- A solar array that helps capture energy from sunlight.
- Some wind turbines to help capture the wind energy.
- Behind the meter storage system to store electricity from the RE components and any other that is bought from the grid.
- A control system to help manage the production, storage, and delivery of the electricity.
Behind the meter system allows the user to access electricity from renewable energy sources typically both wind and solar. It has the grid which acts as a backup. One can also access electricity from the energy stored within the battery of behind the meter storage system.
Behind the meter smart controller continually monitor all the energy sources as well as the load being drawn. It can help to regularly determine the amount of electricity being generated and drawn as well as the ‘state of charge’ of the storage system. It also helps one to know how loads vary with time; for example, one can have a lower load in the evenings and on the weekends. Behind the meter system then use the information to receive energy from the renewable source continually, supply energy directly from the storage system to the load and if necessary, buy electricity from the grid when the grid electricity supply price is lowest.
Another critical aspect to understand is what is behind the meter storage?
Behind the meter, energy storage is a type of unit that can store energy generated by behind the meter generation system, such as a wind turbine, a solar PV, or Combined Heat Power (CHP) unit, and then releases it when it is needed. For example, it can be released at night when a solar installation may not be generating energy.
Going by any clean energy blog that has discussed behind the meter concept, it’s evident that, behind the meter means taking any action that reduces the amount of energy being bought from a utility. For example, by making energy efficiency upgrades that help reduce power usage, installing renewable systems to generate energy onsite and promoting behavioral changes. It includes anything that has a positive impact on the overall level of energy being consumed.
Behind the meter aim is to:
- Reduce the carbon emission and footprint of the building by generating electricity from renewable sources.
- Reduce the electricity bills costs or the amount of electricity purchased by the building.
- Take the building “off the grid” for some or all of the working day.
- Provide power conditioning and uninterruptible power supply characteristics for the entire building.
- Eliminate blackouts to the building and provides uninterruptable power supply during grid failures.
- Eliminate the damaging effects of brownouts on the building.
- Allow the owner to buy electricity at the lowest possible purchase rates
Behind the meter system in a building has a single source of energy that is, the grid, excluding backup generators. Since the building is limited to a single source, it poses several disadvantages since the owner must accept:
- Whatever price structure is imposed by their jurisdiction.
- Whatever brownouts happening in the location.
- Whatever blackouts that location experiences.
- Random and damaging power ‘spikes’ that can affect or even destroy electronics.
Behind the meter system does not sell power back to the grid but instead, it uses it all for its host building. As opposed to behind the meter, a stand-alone system on site sit in front of the meter and feed power directly into the grid system. A stand-alone system can be an independent on-site energy load and allows the owners to sell a 100 percent of the power generated directly to the utility.
The solar energy is not just tied to the load of the building, and the owner can create an additional source of income regardless of whether the building is occupied or not. In instances where any excess energy is fed back into the grid, it helps to balance supply and demand of power even as it generates additional revenue in the process. In some jurisdictions that have a Feed-in-Tariff, it is generally prohibited to have a single system that can both sell electricity to the grid and also use it internally.
Here are several advantages and disadvantages to biomass.
Conclusion on Behind the Meter
Different alternative blogs concur that behind the meter is a technology that can significantly change the future of power generation across different industries. Energy costs make up a significant part of the household and national expenditure and taking behind the meter action could bring considerable benefits.
Here are the advantages of going green. Do your part to improve the environment.
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