Storing electrical energy in private households becomes increasingly popular. If many households still demand electricity from the grid, there is a destabilizing effect due to variable quantities of privately produced electricity. On the other hand, private production unburdens the grid. Is private households’ energy storage hence a curse or a blessing?

An increasing number of private households get interested in storing electrical energy in their private homes. Batteries for storing energy from private PV installations have become less expensive over the last years. In addition, storing energy individually is “cool” and people like to be independent of national grids.

Yet, for national grids the growing number of private storing installations is problematic as long as the respective households are still connected to the grid. The key problem consists in a lower predictability and a higher variability of energy demand over time. Hence, decisions on how much electricity to offer within the grid become more complicated and the risk of blackouts due to the instability of the grid increases.

But with better storage systems and technology for private homes and with new business models private households could become grid independent. Some apartment buildings can already live from their own electricity with no more than 1 hour sunshine per day. And private firms could make a business out of pooling the energy storage for several private homes and providing electricity to them as a service for which the households pay. Overall, forcing the independence of more private homes from a national grid could be a win-win strategy.

ESC Member Professor Renate Schubert and her research team are part of the Institute for Environmental Decisions (IED) with key research interests in behavioral economics related to environmental and energy-related topics. They aim at explaining observable behavior of individuals and groups, at identifying impacts of this behavior and at recommending interventions to improve individual and global well-being in the short as well as in the long term.

Furthermore, the team is dedicated to developing and applying innovative teaching and learning technologies including modern electronic devices. Their goal is to enhance students’ capabilities as critical thinkers.