Energy Storage is a buzzing topic in the solar community, and we anticipate that Solar Storage will transform Australia’s energy market and create yet another wave of solar uptake. However, before installing batteries, we want people to think about their electricity consumption and pick the best solar and battery system for their house.
In this article, we will look at why it’s time to get excited about solar storage in 2016.
Solar Energy Storage is about to get a lot cheaper
At the moment, a fully installed hybrid solar system with solar storage is somewhere in the vicinity of $15,000 to $25,000.
This system typically includes a standard grid-connected solar system with the addition of batteries, and a battery inverter. With a return on your money possible in around 3 to 5 years for a solar system without batteries, the main expense of hybrid solar is the batteries along with the associated hardware needed to operate them efficiently.
However, as Giles Parkinson from Reneweconomy.com.au says in his article; the soon to be released Tesla Powerwall battery storage concept along with the Enphase AC Battery will have an impact on Australian battery storage prices. In fact, the current estimate for future cost reductions for battery costs is 8% per annum.
The biggest hurdle is to get a return on investment down below the 10-year warranty that will come with the batteries. This will allow the trailblazers to set the wheels in motion, just like what happened in the solar industry only a few years ago.
New lithium technology is about to hit the market.
Hybrid solar systems have been available for some years now. However, they typically use old technology such as lead-acid batteries.
A lead-acid battery bank needs ventilation, drainage, and constant maintenance to ensure both the battery’s life and safety, making it impractical for a residential installation in most cases. See our Solar Battery Glossary for more info.
With lithium ion batteries soon to hit the market, critical roadblocks such as safety and maintenance will be removed, making it suitable for most households. The new technology is much safer than even a laptop battery, allowing it to be installed in a garage, or perhaps even an easily accessible roof cavity.
Energy Management is an absolute game changer.
With all the excitement surrounding solar storage, it is easy to overlook the Energy Management capabilities that will be available over the next few months.
This is set to be an absolute game-changer as we install the first integrated energy monitor that provides energy usage insights, remote update capabilities, and load management, enabling a more cost-effective and reliable solar installation while adding significant value for system owners.
Find out more about this exciting development with the release of the Enphase Envoy-S.
There might be government rebates or incentives available.
This is not based on tangible information from the government. However, the mood out of Canberra is extremely positive after the change in Prime Minister, with Greg Hunt boldly declaring that “we need our politics to keep up with our people” and that “storage is the new black.”
Government incentives have played a key role in the success of solar power in Australia with our nation now having the highest penetration of residential solar power globally, higher even than Germany.
If the government continues to support renewable energy in Australia, it is plausible that we will see incentives for households to install solar battery storage and hybrid solar systems.
At this early stage, we have already seen councils offer grants to businesses to add solar storage, for example, Adelaide City Council is offering up to 50% of the installed system cost to a maximum of $5,000 for an energy storage systems coupled with an on-site solar photovoltaic system.
A word of caution
There are now dozens of companies with prototypes for a solar storage solution.
From solar panel manufacturers to car companies and, of course, the established market players such as ABB. The recent All Energy Conference in Melbourne was abuzz with the latest and greatest technology that is due to be released over the next year or two.
But just like the early days of the solar industry, it took time before the industry consolidated, to the point where there are now established manufacturers that offer reliable products of a high standard, with local support in Australia that is in a strong financial position to honour warranties over the coming years (and even decades).
It is possible that many solutions will be released with much hype, however as we have seen with startups in the solar industry, it is easy for a new company to fold after reliability issues see a wave of warranty claims that send the company into insolvency, often taking installers and distributors down with them.
A key message we talk about to customers is the importance of sticking with the leading brands, and this will be even more important with batteries and energy management over the coming months. We urge you to call The Solaray Team if you are considering an Energy Management System so that we can offer you up to date advice.