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Energy disruption: Solar plus storage to be cheaper than grid in 2017

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Some utilities may think that it will be up to a decade before there is a mass market uptake of battery storage, and the chair of the Australian Energy Market Operator may even try to convince themselves that the technology won’t be commercial for another two decades, but they might be kidding themselves: New research suggests that the cross-over point between the value of solar and storage and grid prices for Australian households may occur within one year.

That, at least, is the conclusion of research from Curtin University’s Jemma Green and Peter Newman, which suggests that the A1 tariff – the standard tariff offered to households by state owned retailer Synergy in West Australia – will become more expensive than the combined value of rooftop solar and battery storage some time in 2017.

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The graph was presented on Tuesday by David Martin – Green’s fellow executive in the solar trading start-up Power Ledger, which is using blockchain technology (the software behind Bitcoin) to trial solar sharing business models in Perth.

“That price crossover – the point where the A1 tariff is equal to the value of energy from solar and tariffs happens next year …  next year,” Martin told the Energy Disruption conference in Sydney co-hosted by RenewEconomy.

He said that did not meant that people were going to “leap off the grid” in big numbers straight away. That’s because when that point is reached there are “intangible benefits” of being connected to the network, and it would cost a lot more to install enough batteries to deal with the consumer’s demand peaks, or days of cloudy weather.

“But as soon as these lines diverge by a significant amount – and overtake the benefits of being connected to the network, then what happens?”

The answer, he pointed out in another graph, is a big problem for the utilities that make their money from supplying power to households, because a lot of that demand will now disappear from view, and go “behind the meter.

Martin says a home with a 4kW array might still use the grid for most of the time – meaning that only 45 per cent of the load is “hidden” from the network behind the meter.

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But with battery storage, the rate of “load defection” – as opposed to grid defection – was likely to increase to the high 90 per cent levels in some instances (see graph above). Those households will only be tapping into network for a small amount of their energy needs.

This, of course, has major implications for network business models – particularly their revenue source – and for other consumers. Networks, Martin says, will have to face losing $100 million in revenue in West Australia for instance, or load 20 per cent more grid costs on to other consumers to protect their revenues.

Hence, Martin says, the need for completely new ways of thinking about network use, and of sharing solar energy and battery storage. That’s what Power Ledger intends to do with its shared solar model – it allows those with solar and storage to share their power with those who maybe don’t have it – and allows better utilisation of the grid.

It also requires, he says, a completely new way of thinking about regulations. The rules governing the electricity industry had been framed without any consideration for sharing energy, for storing energy, or for the kind of technology that his company proposes.

Martin was not the only person talking of an imminent tipping point in the economics of battery storage. Stefan Jarnason, the founder and head of Solar Analytics, a monitoring company partly owned by AGL Energy, says he believed that even some of the more bullish forecasts for battery storage were too conservative.

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These included predictions – from the likes of Bloomberg New Energy Finance above – that some six million households will have energy storage by 2040. Jarnason says that this shows that massive uptake is inevitable, but it is the speed that counts.

He notes there there are already 1.6 million homes with rooftop solar, and around one million of these would soon be paid “visually” nothing for the vast majority of their rooftop solar production that is exported back to the grid. Most premium tariffs end at the end of the year in NSW, Victoria and South Australia.

“We talk to those customers and they are not very happy about that. They love the fact that they have solar, they feel a bit green, a bit financially savvy, even a bit smug, but they already have got their money back on solar and they are now looking to do something extra.”

That estimate is backed up by experience from one of the many battery storage providers moving into the Australian market.

Enphase Energy, which is launching its first battery storage product in Australia, says more than half of the 72,000 units of its 1.2kWh battery has come from NSW, where generous feed in tariffs come to an end at the end of the year.

“The energy storage revolution is going to come much faster than a lot of people imagine and a lot of people are prepared,” Jarnason says. “Residential solar plus storage is going to eat the energy world.”  

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  • Brunel

    The blue line after 2020 is strange. It is flat after 2020.

    I think batteries will continue to fall in price every year till 2030 or 2040.

    • nakedChimp

      Well, the time axis meets the cost axis at 0 (can’t go under there, this is not Star Trek), there is a lot of units to be moved and the market will be big (positive profit for a pretty long time) and the graph stops at 2024.
      Also with the incumbents needing to raise their price all the time the comparison mark will always go up – any competition sitting at a constant price will look better for consumers.
      And I think they’re cautious.
      Plus no mentioning if that is inflation adjusted or not.
      🙂

      Long term you’re absolutely right.

      • Brunel

        Yes. I just wonder if coal power was getting cheaper from 1995 to 2005?

        • Matthew Wright

          The brightest minds weren’t rearing and ready to research coal. Whereas batteries, Ev’s and solar attract the brightest minds – those that previously were in computing are now motivated by this new tech.

          • Brunel

            Yeah and batteries have been improved for mobile phones and laptops. Improving batteries for cars is a recent phenomenon.

          • Matthew Wright

            However the research dovetails – many advances in batteries for power tools, or laptops or mobile phones will help with advances in car batteries and advances in car batteries will help consumer electronics even though the battery chemistries are different many innovations and much know how will carry between the different areas.

          • Analitik

            I suggest you read up on the history of submarine warfare if you think large battery storage capacity has only recently become important. The Germans ended up playing with hydrogen peroxide as a fuel because they just couldn’t get enough battery performance to avoid allied aircraft sinking the U-boats.

            And then nuclear came along and changed the whole game. The costs were and still are huge but they are worth it for submarines because batteries just aren’t good enough even now

          • Brunel

            How come Boeing put lithium batteries in civilian aircraft recently.

          • Analitik

            What about it? The lithium batteries in the 787 Dreamliner are to reduce weight vs the nickel cadmium batteries used in previous aircraft for the onboard electronics. It doesn’t mean they power the planes. The improvement is a halving of the battery weight. Yay!

            This level of improvement has already been implemented in current EVs and is still utterly insignificant vs the improvement needed for grid level storage.

          • Brunel

            You said U-boats.

            I said recently built civilian aircraft have lithium batteries in them.

          • Analitik

            Again, so what? An aircraft needs a small amount of electrical storage as mentioned by DJR96.

            A non-nuclear submarine is entirely dependant on battery power when submerged and lithium batteries make only a minor difference in performance vs century old lead-acid batteries. Read the following to get some idea about the level of difference between the cutting edge and old tech in this most critical application.
            http://www.aspistrategist.org.au/australias-future-submarine-the-great-battery-debate/

            Grid level storage remains a pipedream. Short term frequency ancillary support is as good as batteries get. Isambard Kingdom Brunel would have recognised this instantly.

          • Brunel

            Yes. Grid storage batteries are not worth it in Hawaii. Oh wait…

          • Richard

            Grid level storage won’t be needed because th amount of power bought from the grid will sink like a stone once battery Pv takes off in 5 years

          • DJR96

            Any battery in aircraft are only for a back-up power supply for ancillary equipment and to start the APU which is a small turbine engine used solely for generating the bulk of electrical power on a plane.Batteries are never used for propulsion.

            Any weight saving is an improvement to efficiency of more payload that can be moved.

            Unfortunately, like any Li-ion battery, if they are charged or discharged too quickly they generate heat. Boeing didn’t get that right to start with and had a couple of mishaps which has given Li-ion batteries a bad reputation in aircraft.

    • Carl Raymond S

      Agree. The rewards for a 1% increase in energy density were once not so much. Projecting forward, each small gain in either density or cheaper production is worth billions to car companies, storage companies and phone companies. I think the lines will cross and the blue line keeps straight on down. In a blink – self generation will be half the price of grid power.

  • Analitik

    If there is to be mass load defection, then utilities will need to alter rates so that fixed charges more closely reflect the grid maintenance costs and the usage rate becomes more closely related to the net wholesale electricity price.

    The overall effect should be higher fixed charges and lower prices per kWh which will alter the economics of the ROI for batteries and solar packages

    • Brunel

      What is to stop 2 friendly neighbours from sharing a single grid connection.

      Also, when EV batteries can do a crazy number of cycles, say 10,000 cycles, you can power your house from a Tesla 3 days straight. And just recharge at a supercharging station for a fee.

      • Daniel

        Unfortunately, despite small variations in usage patterns throughout the day which both independent batteries will largely cater to, both properties are likely to be in the same situation for cloud and winter. Additionally, new generation batteries are still a significant initial capital outlay for most of us, so sizing a battery to be off grid is not going to return a fast system payback and most of us don’t yet have an EV battery to top up the house battery for that extra cloud (system short on PV) or extra cold winter night of heating (system short on battery kWh).

        • Brunel

          Solar PV still produce electrons on cloudy days. 0.4x many as on normal days according to someone who loves coal (not me).

          Is the connection from my house to the grid at near capacity? I doubt it. Maybe at 50% capacity on the peak day.

          If I have solar panels along with my neighbour. One of us could disconnect from the grid and share electrons.

          • Daniel

            Yep because PV is so cheap, the cheapest part of the solar system, it seems worth oversizing for summer to cover winter. Yes, I’m putting three residential buildings on my property and three solar systems, sharing one grid and one NBN.

          • Brunel

            What do you mean by your property.

          • Daniel

            Hi Brunel, I purchased a 1012m2 property situated in a rural town for $175k. It has three buildings: a tiny house, a middle shed converted to like a granny flat and a back shed. When I purchased the property I knew it was at least zoned for Dual Occupancy – two residential dwellings. I hired an architect and discovered a number of town houses could be built. As I’m a Social Worker, among other things, I was interested in creating a miniature urban eco-village – for the purpose of cost sharing property resources e.g. like your describing, by having cooperative solar systems, one NBN, water tanks and permaculture. As I’m low in money to get started, I just got the architect to put a Dual Occupancy plan through Council to do a shed conversion on the back building, though I don’t actually have the money to move ahead with it. So what I’m presently doing is just setting up the small house and seperate granny flat with the shared solar system and granny flat (although its a detached building from the house). Basically this just involved digging a couple trenches, putting conduit with power cable cable in one and the ethernet cables to extend the NBN in the other. So yes, as you said, the grid connection functions way below capacity, and actually as each solar system is added to a property, the peak amps drawn from the grid will drop (I’m also an electronics technician). The NBN is fibre to the house, so its bandwidth is also plenty for three buildings.

          • Brunel

            How about sharing the NBN connection using Wi-Fi?

          • Daniel

            I used to be a communications technician though am no expert on Wi-Fi. I know it is fairly low power (unlike a mobile phone tower) so is only for a small radius around the router. So in practice I tried it, although the Wifi only goes partially around the house without losing speed. With the other building 10 meters away, it seems to stop short of the building and of course the building is a steel shed which acts as a big earthed cage, so no Wifi is getting through there, or through windows, without significant loss of speed. So the conclusion, for the sake of happy people, ethernet cable in conduit, running back to router. Computers will of course have a meter for measuring Wifi signal strength if ever in doubt and there’s speed test applications to download for free from the internet.

          • john

            Perhaps have a look at micro-grids.
            I could power the whole street during the day however that leaves a hole later in the day; to cover that one has to have storage; so yes storage can be viable to look after that situation in a few years time.

          • Analitik

            I have solar PV – the dropoff on a very cloudy day is far worse than 60%

      • john

        There is an article about doing that which i can not find atm however ib said is not a good idea

        • Brunel

          Probably because EV batteries today can only do 1000 cycles.

          But boffins are working on EV batteries that can do a lot more cycles.

          • Daniel

            Increasing the cycles from 1000 will help allot by lengthening how long the battery will last although it won’t increase the size of the battery. So coping with heating in winter will still need a large battery in winter and larger cost. This is why I think the best short term strategy is a small battery, still connected to the grid, using the battery to primarily consume PV power around the solar day, by avoiding the export/import merry-go-round.

          • Brunel

            Huh?

            Tesla cars have 60 to 90 kWh batteries. That is plenty of capacity to power a house for 2 days straight – with no solar PV.

          • Daniel

            Fair enough I welcome it though I can’t find those kinds of prices on eBay yet as EV batteries are the leading the way with cost reductions and they don’t seem to have translated to individual batteries yet.

          • Daniel

            eg. looking on eBay now:
            Pro Power 12V 200ah Lithium Ion LiFePo4 Deep Cycle Battery Solar 4WD Caravan
            3 Year Warranty, FRESH STOCK, Free shipping
            AU $2,299.00

            12V x 200Ah = 2.4kWh so then $2299 divided by 2.4 = $957/kWh

          • john

            As you know Daniel the price needs to be $150/ KwH so $957 is just a little bit high.
            With the present price point it appears for Tesla from the Gigafactory for the Tesla vehicle being $190 i wonder how long before this translates to commercial storage pricing.

          • Daniel

            Exactly, and battery pricing – for those who wish to see and organise individual batteries.

          • Brunel

            And? Tesla EV batteries are U$190/kWh. While a 100 kWh Tesla Powerpack is U$250/kWh.

            The point of the gigafactory is to cut battery prices by at least 30%.

            Say 40%. So 0.6 x $250 = U$150/kWh by 2020.

          • neroden

            Powerpack is sadly currently US$470/kwh without the inverter (more with the inverter). I suspect that has a large profit margin as well as no economies of scale. Tesla says their vehicle batteries are down to $190/kwh production cost, so figure they can do that with the Powerpack batteries, add $130/kwh for the inverter, add 20% profit margin to the battery (inverter profit margin was included in that estimate), and they should be around $360/kwh by sometime next year. Then they should start really bringing the cost down.

            The important point is that $360/kwh capacity is about 7.2 cents / kwh delivered, based on 5000 cycles. That’s low enough. The most expensive rooftop solar in Australia costs about the same. Add them together and you get about US 14.4 cents / kwh, or AUD 19.2 cents / kwh. Cheaper than your ridiculous Australian grid electricity tariffs, though more expensive than my Niagara Falls electricity tariffs.

          • Brunel

            Do you mean Powerwall or Powerpack?

          • Daniel

            I think the problem in practice is your quoting prices for batteries thrown in with a sports car, where people are likely to get a good deal on the batteries. On eBay lithium batteries appear to be about AU $1000kWh

          • Ian

            Tesla is a good place to start looking for an example of what can be done and the current economics but I think there are many other choices. Tesla has one concerning issue . That is their whole edifice is built on a small penlight sized lithium cell – the 18650, scary don’t you think!

          • Don Johnston

            what a stupid statement – how do they recharge the battery when its flat? use the grid or solar I would think

          • Brunel

            If you go a couple of comments up, I said Tesla cars can be recharged at a supercharging station.

          • wmh

            Store energy as hot water to cope with winter heating. Water is $2/ 1000 litres and this amount can store 50 kWh. You are only paying for the tank and the radiators on your wall, the system can be non-pressurised so cheap. Lots of people do it in Europe.

            Your (LED) lighting, TV and microwave will need batteries but perhaps only 5kWh per day of autonomy.

          • Daniel

            Interesting, have you got any links I can refer to? Got 9.6kWh lead acid tho endeavour to cycle no less than 70% full charge. Battery good for everything except heating in winter.

          • nakedChimp

            Instead of radiators use in/on slab heat exchangers (plastic pipe with the water inside) – that’s what most people do in Europe 😉

            https://www.google.com.au/search?q=radiant+heating+slab

    • Daniel

      As you predicted, I’m in NSW and my Daily Supply Charge recently increased from 137.27cents/day to 159.50cents/day. At the same time my All Day Usage rate decreased from 34.22cents/kWh to:
      25.92cents/kWh (first 100kWh per calendar month)
      27.48cents/kWh (next 240kWh per calendar month)
      28.89cents/kWh (balance kWh per calendar month) all inc GST effective 8th August 2016.

      So yes, your right, fixed charges (on my bill called the Daily Supply Charge) are increasing while prices per kWh are dropping.

      • neroden

        Those fixed charges are already too high. Over 10 years (the warrantied life of a Powerwall) they cost about 1.5 times as much as a Powerwall. (And the Powerwalls are getting cheaper.)

        If it makes sense to do load defection, then with those fixed charges, it also makes sense to add another couple of batteries and completely disconnect from the grid.

        Dumb move for the utility. They really need to watch the price of their competition more carefully.

        • Daniel

          Nice logic. 159.50cents/day x 365 days = AU $582 pa towards a storage solution or batteries
          x 10 for the 10 year warrantee of a Powerwall = AU $5820. So fixed charges alone are getting much closer to funding a Powerwall. Although with one Powerball, a really energy efficient house would be needed and perhaps an alternative to electric heating overnight. It certainly is a very tempting line of thought which many will consider.

    • Chris Fraser

      Fixed charges being their most desperate, and dangerous, weapon. Hope the regulator is wary of reactions like that !

      • Analitik

        Fixed charges have to rise if average load decreases but peak load does not. And there are many continuously cloudy days in winter where PV generates very little. Of course the peak can be shaved by storing baseload power at low demand periods but there is a real limit to this (and also to demand management).

        If you need a grid connection some of the time, then the grid needs to be maintained and that costs money.

        • Chris Fraser

          That may be. But this discussion makes forward assumptions about the capacity of technology that exists now. What sort of run of cloudy days do you mean ? A London pea-souper ? Don’t your panels give out anything at the first whiff of cirrostratus ?

          • Analitik

            Output of my PV (Canadian Solar w Enphase micro inverters) will drop 75% with just light cloud cover – heavy cloud cover with rain will see output fall by 90%. The overbuild requirements for off grid are enormous and if you can’t go off grid, then you still need a grid connection.

            Of course you could buy a diesel generator for those periods when your PV and battery is insufficient

          • Chris Fraser

            Prosumers are going there eventually. I’m not anti-grid but we should plan for the basics should the grid fail us. At present many prosumers have enough roof for 10kW. When your weather event occurs this could potentially generate 4.0 kWh/day for household use, or storage. It’ll take pressure off the generator, or reduce the size of it. 4.0 kWh/day could run the fridge, devices, some hot water, heat one room at a time …I suspect these users would be happier than their urban neighbours.

    • Barri Mundee

      Perverse outcomes are a key reason the electricity network should never have been privatised.

  • Daniel

    Great work Jemma and Peter. In terms of battery uptake and hence moving the distributed paradigm forward, I think home/offices and business premises who are self consuming their solar power primarily around the solar day are best placed to move forward with batteries first.

    Finally I can’t see a reason to give networks the control of the software on our inverter/chargers. Load management software can be used behind the meter and inverter/chargers could choose to export during peak rates and import during off-peak rates. In this way, control resides onsite rather than with external corporations.

  • john

    Hang on we have a new member in Parliament yes the Federal Parliament who has said that these new fangled solar things is a cost to society and has put up the price of power.
    Oh for peats sake even the RET inquiry, which was tasked to find that solar was a cost to society found that the outcome is a net gain.
    How do these people actually sleep at night when they make totally inane and false statements?
    Oh i forgot they are preaching to the gullible who think the shock jocks are gold and only truth is wat eva da fox tells them evidently.

    • Chris Fraser

      They all need a few well-aimed links to editorials on RenewEconomy.

      • john

        Perhaps a bit more than that after all one is still there who said ” Solar panels will never pay for themselves in a million years”
        yes honestly where do you go after that kind of no ideas statement?

  • Daniel

    In the diagram the A1 tariff is about 30cents/kWh and forecast to increase, however we see from my recently updated network charges below, the NSW network is once again ahead of us on the game, as my kWh rate dropped from 34.22cents/kWh to 25.92cents/kWh as of 8th August 2016. So even though battery prices are dropping, networks are responding by dropping kWh rates and raising fixed charges. This spreads the cost of the poles and wires across all premises, even though those with RE would be using the network far less and far less often.

    In summary, networks are raising fixed charges as a delaying tactic for them to recover the costs of their poles and wires for their inefficient and often overbuilt networks and then perhaps in the future build a more efficient network, if they choose..

    • Chris B

      Increasing fixed charges merely increases the rate of permanent defection.

      The second that Tesla Motors figures out how to opportunistically push power between a car and a powerwall, it’s game over.

      • Daniel

        With getting power between batteries, the battery supplying the charge has to be a higher voltage, so its not going to be as easy as connecting two identical sized batteries together. In the past an AC charger has controlled the voltage/amps for the optimum battery charging to optimise speed and battery life. With going DC to DC I suppose a boost DC to DC converter would be needed, so a source battery at 450V could be boosted to 600V, if that’s what’s ideal to charge a 450V nominal battery. So since we sometimes wish to go house to car and sometimes car to house, probably the same boost DC to DC converter could be used though its direction reversed back and forward depending upon which way we wanted the current to go. This would need two identical sized batteries or two seperate DC to DC converters would be needed – one to go up and one to go down… as far as I can see. In the past small DC to DC converters have been fairly cheap on eBay etc. I hope it all gets standardised so its not like buying a power supply for a computer then finding all the plugs or voltages change for new models..

    • frostyoz

      I think you’re looking at retailer usage prices, which include both network and energy charges. And you’re seeing the impact of competition on the energy charges. The NSW networks have barely moved their charges.

      Ausgrid (SYD) household network charge for non-time-of-use (basic block 1) last year was 10.8c/kwh, and this year it is 10.9c/kwh (ex-GST).

      Last year their daily charge for basic household was 40.9c per day, this year it is 41.4c per day.

      Note that if you have a TOU meter, this year the Ausgrid household network usage charge is 26.4c/kwh for peak, 5.4c for shoulder and 2.7c for off-peak, showing the significant savings if you can push your grid consumption to outside the 2pm-8pm window.

      You pay energy charges, metering and retail margin on top of this, but you will see that the network itself is not moving things much, yet.

      • Mike Dill

        A storage system that can cover the peak and shoulders with a storage ‘cost’ of less than 20c/kWh will kill any profits to be made from this tariff. the question then will be how much the daily charge will be, and if it will be enough to push people to disconnect.

        • frostyoz

          Yep, I agree Mike.

          Let’s look at a Tesla Powerwall, costing A$10,000 (assumes you already have your solar generation and a multi-mode inverter).

          Over 10 years (warranted life), your Powerwall costs you about $2.87 per day and has an average daily cycle capability of 6.4kwh, meaning your Powerwall storage cost is about 45c/kwh.

          The Powerwall has to be less than half the current price to beat the network (in Sydney).

          Regarding network charging:
          5 years ago, you paid for your mobile phone calls by the call, but now you usually pay a fixed charge per month, up to a capped usage.

          2 years ago, you paid for your internet broadband by the MB, but now you usually pay a fixed charge per month, up to a capped usage.

          Expect to see your power network charges go the same way. It’s crazy charging for a fixed cost network on a usage basis.

          • Mike Dill

            In regard to a fixed bill: I can see this happening, up to the cap. It all depends where the cap is. The reason why mobile and internet charges went to the ‘cap’ is that the raw costs (think wholesale costs) went down by a lot.

            My primary phone right now (tracfone) costs me $8 a month if I only use it on WiFi mode, plus a bit more for ‘roaming’ on the cellular network. That is not a bad price for phone and text ‘service’. Yes, the minutes outside my home and office look expensive, but I have a life and spend most of my time doing other things and not on my phone.

  • wmh

    Right now you can do a lot better than buying grid/gas energy if you realise that 60% of domestic energy use is for heating, you have an electric hot water service and you have some PV facing west. Fit an electronic Diverter (or even just a time switch) to heat your tank when the sun shines and in summer run your air conditioner in the afternoon through to sunset using the westerly PV.

    At night you only need a small number of batteries (perhaps 5kWh per day of autonomy) if you have LED lighting (12 times more efficient than incandescent) and LED TV / computer screens and cook with a microwave.

    You should insulate your house as a first step (you ARE trying to save energy after all) and ensure that your fridge is efficient.

    Of course in winter, when its raining for days, you are back relying on the grid unless you fit a backup hot water tank (water is cheap) and some more batteries. But how many such periods do you get each year?

    • Daniel

      Exactly so most people are best to go hybrid: PV/modest sized battery + still maintain a grid connection, then self consume as much power during the day as possible. So the purpose of the battery is to get off the export/import merry-go-round of decreasing returns, reduce the peak demand period where possible and provide a bit of an Uninterruptible Power Supply (UPS) for those rare though occasional grid outages..

    • Chris B

      An efficient heat pump can simultaneously provide both hot water and chilled water for air conditioning. We don’t use them in Australia for “cultural” reasons, but they’re extremely popular in Japan and moderately popular in Europe.

      Also, the panels are less than a half of the inverter cost, so you can put some facing east as well. Might as well double the capacity factor on that investment.

      • neroden

        Heat pumps have been used for decades in Canada, but they’re finally making inroads into the US. We’ve had good air-to-air heat pumps (“reversible air conditioners”) installed routinely for a decade or so, and we finally have air-to-water heat pumps as of the last couple of years. (As you say they’ve been extremely popular in Japan).

        • Daniel

          Whether it is true or not, my electrician (and solar installer for the AC connections) reckons heat pumps for water have more moving parts than a simple element in a hot water tank, hence he thinks they won’t last as long and aren’t as cost effective, especially if installed outside due to corrosion and if so salt air. An element in a hot water system can also be replaced and also he says there’s now ways of making the solar system put excess electricity into the hot water tank after the battery is 100% full. So perhaps a prime reason when weighing up these things is simply the space for the equipment to occupy? I’ve never seen studies of efficiency and cost over time..

  • Daniel

    On my bill effective on the 8th August, the red line of price per kWh has started going down from 34.22cents/kWh to 25.92cents/kWh while fairly unavoidable fixed network charges have gone up from 137.27cents/day to 159.50cents/day, so therefore its safe to say this is one of their new strategies, therefore we need strategise again..

    What I think is going to happen, is fixed charges will have to be put up to save the network and the general public will eventually become aware the network is inefficient and slow to change. Meanwhile I’ve got another power outage for poles and wires tomorrow between 8.45am to 3pm. Batteries charged. Im ready.

    • Carl Raymond S

      But can they charge for ‘non connection’? That would meet howls of protest.
      Assuming they cannot, higher connection fees only hasten grid defection and the utilities have limited means to control the blue line.
      They can do their darndest to lower the red line, but it won’t make a jot of difference, free fuel ultimately wins.
      I think two models will emerge. Where the grid exists, it will continue to exist, as a battery leveler. The guy with the P100D needs it when he does back to back trips.
      Where it doesn’t exist, it won’t. Just like India bypassed landlines and went direct to mobiles.

      • Daniel

        My lead acid batteries would get flogged in winter (heating) if I defected so I’m presently stuck with the fixed fee rises. Yes fortunately the blue line is beyond their control. Yes they won’t win with the red line either because PV is so cheap and then free for 25 years+
        From memory Australia has one eighth the population density of America, so perhaps in the short term the guy with the P100D will have slightly less ability to roam free beyond national highways..
        Yes I imagine the grid will eventually come under pressure to be more efficient then drop some outlying country folk off it or radically revision it..
        High density areas might get really smart grids with multiple contingencies so they practically never have an outage..
        Australia is supposed to be one of the biggest continents with the smallest populations overall, with great differences in population distribution, so I imagine we will see very very different quality of service in the coming decades..
        It will be great to see very diverse examples of solar systems for a very diverse population..

        • Chris B

          Microgrids will be coming to small remote towns first simply because of the cost of maintaining and upgrading long distance transmission lines. Easier to use a behind the meter solar + battery setup, trickle charged with whatever the transmission network can support, and with a central natural gas and/or diesel generator as backup.

          You’ll see it in NT first because of the cost of diesel and trucked CNG, and then as batteries and solar get cheaper it’ll move south.

        • neroden

          Outlying country folk have the highest incentive to leave the grid already. And the grid has the highest incentive to ask them to leave (Ergon is *already* asking them to leave).

          I think that’ll be the next stage: outlying country folk go off the grid, either because they hate the utility or because the utility wants to get rid of them. This actually cuts the utility’s costs a lot — those outlying places are very expensive to maintain wires to.

  • Ian

    Sorry to say it but the graph of Green and Newman comparing the A1 Tariff to solar plus storage is nonsense. Solar power to the home owner is dirt cheap. Probably about 5c/kWh, but battery storage at an installation price of over a $1000/kWh is very expensive probably closer to $1/kWh . Sure, you can mix and match solar capacity to battery capacity to give any combined system value between 5c and $1 per KWH but that’s a bit disingenuous don’t you think?

    Put another way, the graph says that solar plus storage in 2016 is 40c/KWH should you trust that figure when making a battery storage purchase decision?

    Another problem going off grid is that of standby battery storage. Small batteries are fine to shift solar power generated in the day to the night on a daily cyclical basis but what about the prolonged cloudy days. How do you emulate the grid reliability then? The network operators know this problem and the very firm umbilical cord householders have to the grid and can play with fixed charges and consumption charges at will. Until battery storage comes down in price to the same order of magnitude as the existing battery manufacturing cost the off grid dream will remain just that, a dream.

  • Geoff

    ……I’ll spend the price of a coffee each say on a 24/7/365 Capital free Grid Supplier…..ffs. You guys are dreamers.

    • nakedChimp

      At the moment that coal-powered coffee would cost me ~7AUD per day inclusive subsidizing by the city dwellers.
      And I have to live with out-of-nowhere blackouts now and then and those crappy power lines all over the country and my property.

      • neroden

        Yep, you’re the perfect market to go off-grid. I would advise you to wait until a solid integrated product is available at the right price… probably in 2017, but maybe not until 2018.

        • Daniel

          Integrated product means expensive and complex. I can build a whole solar system for less than the installation of a Powerwall, like the one for AU $7600 which is powering my house now in this power outage. Solar can be really simple. Most people are getting an installer to do the install anyway, so why would they need an integrated solution?

          • nakedChimp

            Cause most people don’t have the necessary skill (they really don’t) nor guts to build this them self (one needs to be pretty brave to install 230Vac stuff without a license as insurance and law will catch you if something happens, though the local electrician was sending his apprentice to our place so he could learn how it’s done – you glean from that what you will).
            I build small systems for my work 200-500W/10kWh and the one for my place is currently based on hybrid inverters + 10kWp of solar – but no batteries yet as I don’t like the prices that essentially went up when I wanted to get LiFePO4. I’ll not deal with LAB anymore. Had enough of that tech.
            I’m a DIY’er to the bone.. so I know where you come from. I rather screw it up myself and buy the pro tools to get the job done, then to pay someone who does it improperly (had enough of that happening in all sorts of trades and places – builders, plumbers, electricians, concreters, etc..).

          • Daniel

            Yes though for installers such as yourself, do you see an advantaged to integrated types of systems rather than just wiring individual components?

          • nakedChimp

            Unfortunately I got an electronics engineer in the family 😉 and he doesn’t like the panels on the roof riding on the 50Hz 230Veff roller coaster (all modern inverters do it that way), so he’s designing his/our own.
            At least I got him to accept that I don’t want to distribute 230Vdc around the house in an age where there are no off-the-shelf circuit breakers and sockets/plugs at reasonable cost for this.
            I’m well aware that most modern appliances would have no problem with that.. man even fridges now come with internal VFDs for the compressors. The only place were one still needs some AC is induction motors in the workshop, all else would run fine on DC.

            To answer your Q.. for me personally, if there was a device that could do what I wanted for a reasonable price I’d rather buy than build, 100%.

          • Daniel

            eg. with the brand Victron, the batteries come seperate and so does the BMS. If it’s all bundled together in a single “black box” will it still be as accessible to fault find and replace individual components?

          • nakedChimp

            It will be more economical and the components optimized for the system.
            If you’re worried about redundancy get another one and just step down in size per unit – make sure they can run parallel on the output so you don’t wind up with separate circuits in your house.

          • Daniel

            Ok. I’m intending upon recycling all the battery banks, down the line to progressively smaller solar systems (three buildings on the property) including the present 4x 200Ah lead acid batteries. I was concerned if a BMS broke for a lithium setup, it might be hard to access or get ongoing parts..

  • This tipping point was passed in Spain some years and resulted in massive taxes on sunlight and batteries. While solar + storage costs about 60% of the grid tariff, solar accounts only for 5% of the electricity consumed in Spain.

    If let on the lose, this new paradigm means an end to profits in the electricity sector, since it effectively translates into a perfect competition market. More details here:

    http://journal.frontiersin.org/article/10.3389/fenrg.2013.00007/full

    Cheers.

    • neroden

      Well, when they threaten to send militarized police to break down your door and charge you 30 million dollar fines for ‘illegal solar panels’, that *will* cut solar adoption.

      Only the utterly cartoon-villian evil Rajoy government was willing to try this. All the other parties united against him and even parts of his own party oppose this insanity. If Spain can ever get rid of Rajoy, Spain will go back to normal and solar will be adopted en masse.

  • Daniel

    Good morning. I’m having a winner. I’m in a power outage with 303 premises and six solar panels are powering the house. Additionally, I reckon a torch battery would be big enough to get a house through a daytime power outage, as the SOC of the battery is just sitting there on 100%. In fact any power used probably doesn’t even go into the battery at all, as the electrons would travel straight from the roof, solar controller, then DC cables of the inverter/charger, then inverter to AC. In other words the inverter/charger is picking up the DC straight from the solar panels, so battery not really being used. In fact some inverter/chargers don’t need a battery (battery-less operation).
    Incidentally, there’s quite a few planned network outages and here they are for my local area on this pick from Essential Energy’s website. This is the maintenance our fixed charges pay for.

  • Daniel

    Another upcoming issue is all of us discerning the difference between a healthy smart grid and an unhealthy, exploitative and oppressive smart grid.

  • Daniel

    Why did my comment mentioning eBay lithium battery prices get detected as spam when I was illustrating costs not promoting products??????????????????????
    I declare I have no financial interests in ANY products or services or conflicts of interests.

    It’s BS promoting lithium prices on this website if they are hypothetical or included in car sales. This is misleading promotional material from RenewEconomy.

  • Tim Forcey
  • Peter Smith

    There is a problem with going off the grid, and it was demonstrated during last June and July, when most of the Australian eastern seaboard was covered with heavy cloud for the best part of eight weeks.

    I have been logging our system on a daily basis, and it would have needed an implausibly expensive battery pack to keep running through that period. A small local grid would have been completely covered by cloud for most of the time.

    The alternative is a grid focused on linking areas with different weather patterns.

    For the record, our house generates an average of 12 kWh per day and uses around 10kWh. To stay lit up over June and July, we would have needed over 50 kWh of battery. If we doubled our generation capacity, we would still have needed 20 kWh.

    Of course, over the same period there would have been plenty of wind power, but I am not aware of any practical wind generators for a suburban house.

    • Daniel

      Encouraging your focusing upon a real world example.
      1) most of us have evolved past trying to move solar forward by considering going off grid,
      2) most of us are looking at hybrid solar systems – meaning PV/storage + grid connection,
      3) in terms of system design, as you have correctly identified, coping with cloud is not economical by upsizing a battery because they are expensive.

      Your conclusion is correct, dealing with cloud is best accomplished by upsizing RE, in your case with PV. The purpose of the battery is purely matching the PV generation to the load and getting your family through part of the evening peak, or the night, to the extent you wish to invest in a battery. This applies to a house or a state like SA.

      • Peter Smith

        I hope the suppliers get around to setting realistic tariffs which encourage this kind of load balancing. We have a fixed cost of about $400pa just for being connected, which means we have no financial incentive for installing any batteries.

        • Daniel

          What if we stay with your data and experience? Providing for your family. How you can lead and make a difference to evolve your world.
          The first big factor is whether you have a home/office or own your work premise? If yes, you only need purchase a small battery, for the purpose of self consuming around the solar day and giving you a few hours of battery backup if your local grid goes down for planned or unplanned outages. The first and cheapest purpose for installing batteries, is getting your family or work off the export/import merry-go-round and getting you some experience with batteries.

        • Daniel

          Even though your family generate 12kWh/day and use 10kWh/day it’s likely your headed towards bill shock if your currently on a FIT, because soon taxpayers won’t be paying for you. Soon you will have to pay to use the grid as your battery and the grid will charge you for the service, based upon the difference between the import and export rate. If and when this happens, you will have the data to decide whether you wish to use the grid as a battery or install a small one yourself. You’ll be in the same situation as me and I installed a battery.

        • Daniel

          The problem will be so much more increased if you ever wish to install an EV because the PV won’t keep up for the EV’s fast charger. You will then be importing the majority of your power before you use it and possibly, most likely, the grid will have created residential demand charges so you will have all your imported electricity charged at a higher rate. Then you’ll have more data.

        • Daniel

          It really disadvantages the whole community, when people in your situation with a FIT jump onto this forum. It means you don’t exist in the real world of designing a successful and financially viable solar system now. We really do need to wait for your FIT to end, to get a grounded and real world discussion on this forum.

        • Daniel

          I suspect that Giles Parkinson is in the same situation as you. You simply are not motivated to focus on real world design and pricing now. I will take this forum more seriously in six months when FIT’s have ended and especially when all the money from ARENA dries up.

    • hydrophilia

      Do you know what the typical daily generation was during that 8 weeks of heavy clouds? I’ve been hoping to get some useful numbers.
      Thanks.

      • Peter Smith

        My peak daily generation has been 18kWh, and the overall average is 12.4kWh. The average for June+July was 9.8kWh.
        The killer period for my (virtual) battery was 11 to 28 June, which averaged 7.6kWh. The first 5 days of June averaged 5.4kWh.
        Gloomy times.

  • patb2009

    If you go off grid but have a neighbor who throws you an extension cord, you don’t need storage….

    • Brunel

      Especially in rural areas where neighbours may be friendly.

      Or if flow batteries work out, you could share the fluid via a pipe or something.