It has been called the second solar energy revolution: battery storage. The product and its potential is capturing people’s attention and interest. The Green Gurus™ team are getting many questions. How does it work? What is the cost? Should I think about installing battery storage and if so, when?
Why consider battery storage?
A drawback to using solar power on its own is that it is only available when the sun is shining. You may not be at home during that time, while at night time when we cook dinner or watch television we are still completely reliant on the grid. Battery storage can help maximise the on-site benefits of solar PV. It can also play a role in smoothing peak demand issues on the broader grid, reducing the need for costly network upgrades.
Battery storage has been available for some time. What is changing is that the technology is getting better and cheaper.
Deep cycle batteries and other components were expensive and difficult to operate and maintain. The development of lithium-ion batteries was a game changer. It is cheaper, lighter and good looking. The Tesla Powerwall generated enormous interest in battery storage on a global scale. But there are other systems on the market too such as the Fronius solar battery, Enphase AC Battery and SonnenBatterie Eco.
What many people may not know is that we also have Western Australian companies such as Magellan Power, leading the way in relation to energy storage. Magellan Power has supplied energy storage solutions to hospitals, substations, oil rigs, airports and mines as well as on Australian warships both in Australia and overseas since 1992. They also have solutions for the residential market. Their Magellan Hybrid Energy Storage System (HESS) converts solar energy into useable power and stores it, allowing you to benefit from solar power at night. This is combined with bi-directional energy management that recharges the battery at off-peak hours and saves substantially on electricity bills, depending on the tariff used. HESS has been specifically designed for Australian conditions. It contains everything in one unit and there is no need for additional inverters.
The price of battery storage
So what about the cost of battery storage cost? Giles Parkinson, in a recent blog post for RenewEconomy, looked at this and wrote that whether there will be large scale uptake of solar battery system may depend on when the price of battery storage will come down enough to make it an affordable and financial attractive proposition. This is assuming that the purchase of battery storage will be rational one. The post quotes a recent study by Investment banker Morgan Stanley which predicts that battery storage costs could fall 40 per cent in two years, largely as a result of an increase in scale in global manufacturing and the local industry.
Many people that were among the first to install solar PV in Australia will be coming off generous Feed-in-Tariff agreements within the next couple of years and are expected to give battery storage some serious consideration. For some of these early adopters the desirability of battery storage will be the deciding factor. But once prices are starting to come down, the financial business case will also start to stack up for more and more people. And with around 22.5% of homes in Western Australia already having solar PV, battery storage may take the world by storm.