It wasn’t me that made up that line – although I wish I had.
It was Environment Minister Greg Hunt at the recent All-Energy conference in Melbourne, although I’m not sure whether he made it up himself.
Whatever, the fact is that wherever you turn these days, all you will often hear about is Solar Batteries and Energy Management.
There is good reason for this – we are by all accounts on the verge of a Storage Revolution that is going to change the way many of us buy and use energy – even if today battery storage is not quite there yet (more information about batteries here)
But it is worth taking a deep breath and separating the marketing hype from reality.
In essence, there is no doubt that battery technology looks like it is about to come of age. Also, it is looking like (unless something dramatic happens) electric vehicles will soon become mainstream and that the uptake of solar and wind power is going to continue to increase faster than predicted.
However, the really cool stuff is still to come and this is not so much about storage but more about how we will use power.
As an example, think about the new types of battery-powered electric vehicles. Yes, they have no emissions (assuming you charge them from renewable energy, of course), but most of them are also packed with other features that up until today had been a pipedream. For example, they are generally internet-connected so on a hot day, it can have the aircon cool the car when you leave the office and before you get to it. It can charge itself when electricity is cheapest and it can be controlled (although sadly not driven – yet) by an app on your mobile phone.
This same type of thing is going to happen when we start to put storage into homes – where the home will start to manage its own energy usage to reduce costs and maintain lighting, heating, aircon etc using the best mix of cost vs comfort. Again, all controllable via mobile phone or the web.
Of course, most of us will want to set and forget rather than be bothered managing our household electronics – but you get the idea. We, as an industry, are working hard on developing products to help with this.
This is where energy management, combined with solar power and battery storage, will start to deliver real benefits as home automation is combined with energy monitoring and renewable energy.