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German solar storage could be win-win for Australian households

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The world’s biggest supplier of solar inverters, SMA Solar Technology, has announced that it will be mass marketing its award-winning household solar battery system in the fourth quarter of 2013.

German-based SMA’s Sunny Boy Smart Energy technology – which won best product in the “Photovoltaics” category of the Intersolar AWARD in Munich this year – is the first wall-mounted, mass-produced PV inverter with an integrated battery that can increase the self-consumption of solar power in households by up to 50 per cent.

The energy stored in the Sunny Boy’s integrated lithium-ion battery of about 2kWh is sufficient to supply a four-person household with about three hours of electric current in the evening, says SMA. The battery is also easy to install, and designed with a service life of 10 years and a depth of discharge of 90 per cent – thus cutting both upfront and overall costs.

SMA says the storage system also has advantages for the electricity grid, reducing the amount of electricity it must export, and evening out the fluctuations of solar PV power generation. “This not only makes the use of batteries even more efficient and gives the system operator more independence from rising electricity prices but also enables integration into future Smart Grid business models,” the company says.

The news of the solar storage breakthrough has been welcomed in Australia, where the number of households with rooftop solar installed recently passed the one-million mark, and is predicted to continue its steep climb.

“Prior to SMA’s announcement, households have been restricted to smaller solar systems as presently there is only an incentive to produce power at exactly the same time that it is being used,” said Matthew Wright, executive director of Climate Solution think-tank Zero Emissions.

“This means families who are away during the day can only economically install a smaller 1.5-3kW solar system. …With a 1.5-3kW solar system Australian families can eliminate about 30 percent of their power consumption using a standard north facing installation,” Wright said.

“If we add batteries, households could reduce their annual electricity purchasing by 75-100 per cent, depending on their available roof space and whether they are in a south location like Melbourne or a more sunny northern location like Brisbane.”

Wright says the storage systems could also save on costly grid upgrades, which are subsidised by ordinary householders through ever-rising power bills.

“We’ve been investing way too much in the grid when evening peaks can be met more cheaply with solar and batteries,” said Wright. “These grid upgrades are costly and are hidden away in our electricity bills and an average consumer would be paying more than $1000 a year for a grid that is unnecessarily oversized and costly.”

“There is an opportunity now for the government to offer an incentive program for solar grid battery systems,” he said.

“To make this happen, we need to kickstart the industry and with Germany’s SMA, one of the major suppliers now gearing up to offer a solution, now is the time for the Australian Labor government to make an announcement and follow through immediately with action on the ground.”  

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  • D. John Hunwick

    This is the sort of news that give hope to the “average” person trying their damndest to do their bit to reduce the impacts of climate change. It allows us to boycott those hand-wringing politicians that do nothing-effective in terms of leadership. Power (or at least opportunity) to the people and they will unerringly move in the right directions despite the sceptics.

  • Michel Syna Rahme

    Who wouldn’t want it. How much extra will the battery storage system cost?

  • George Michaelson

    I’d like to see realistic modelling of the crucial 3h window in Australia after effective solar charging sunset (not nautical or astronomical sunset: when the PV stops generating volts, because thats when the battery starts discharging).

    I’d also like to understand how this translates to both in-daytime usage of PV generated volts for use inside the house, as opposed to charging (if the battery is drained, then some amount of the days charge cycle is re-charging and so the volts cannot be used to power devices in the home) and the effect on the FIT

  • Di Elliffe

    Great news for householders planning to invest later on in the year!!! Will make increased self sufficiency and self preservation against miserly Feed In Tariffs much easier and cheaper.

  • Chris Marshalk

    “now is the time for the Australian Labor government to make an announcement and follow through immediately with action on the ground” – As much as I love the idea, it WILL NEVER happen under the current incompetent corrupt Government. Where do I sign up for this????? ANYONE?