As of the 1st February, some retrofit batteries now benefit from zero rate VAT, allowing homeowners who have historically fitted solar PV to more cost-effectively update their system to include electrical energy storage. Prior to February, batteries only qualified for the VAT exemption if they were installed alongside a microgeneration system.
This change is good news for both end users and battery installers. Overall, electrical energy storage systems are gaining traction in the marketplace, with last year being a bumper year for the technology.
How many battery systems were installed in 2023?
According to MCS, battery storage has become the third most popular renewable tech type. 4,400 certified batteries were installed in 2023. Prior to last year, MCS had just 300 certified electrical energy storage systems on its records.
Unsurprisingly, the number of battery installers has also increased – 800 became MCS certified last year, up from just 50 in 2022.
Should I install a battery?
Battery storage makes the return on investment of solar PV far better. The most cost-effective way you can run a microgeneration system is to use as much of the power it generates as possible. Under the Smart Export Guarantee (SEG), payments are usually far less than the cost of importing electricity.
The benefits extend beyond self-generation. Residential batteries broaden the scope of heat pumps for harder-to-treat homes where higher flow-temperatures may be required, minimising running costs by allowing access to off-peak charging.
Do you need a solar PV system to have a battery?
No, although commonly put together, savvy consumers can use electrical energy storage to save on bills regardless of solar or other microgeneration system, such as wind. By switching to energy tariffs with periods of cheaper electricity – such as those championed by Octopus – end users can charge their battery when electricity’s costs the least, usually at night.
At the moment, however, it’s not clear whether these types of battery owners will benefit from 0% VAT.
Griff Thomas, MD for GTEC, said: “Clarification is needed for battery users benefitting from smart tariffs without a microgeneration system and those who charge their Electric Vehicles (EV) directly from solar. These groups may currently be in the minority, but capital cost reductions are an important way to incentivise take-up across the board.
“As the prices of batteries and hopefully electricity come down, and more energy providers adopt the flexible and technology specific tariffs that Octopus has been a champion of, in the future I expect most homes will have a battery of some sorts – in their houses, or on their drives.”
How do I become a battery installer?
GTEC’s battery storage course is designed for experienced and qualified electricians/electrical technicians. Training takes just two days to complete and is recognised by MCS as meeting the training requirements of certification.