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LG Chem pushes Australian battery storage prices further down the curve

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One Step Off The Grid

The competition in the nascent battery storage market continues to intensify, with South Korean appliance manufacturers LG Chem launching a new 6.4kWh battery storage system that approaches the key $1,000/kWh mark.

The new battery storage system is being made available to consumers in the next few weeks, and follows the release into the Australian market of AU Optronics, promoted by AGL Energy, and rival offerings from Samsung,  Enphase, Panasonic and SMA.

But the LG Chem system is already bringing costs down at the top end of the market – matching the assumed pricing of the much vaunted Tesla Powerwall, with the advantage that it is actually in the market.

LG’s Chem Residential Energy Storage Unit (RESU) 6.4kWhr battery is similar in size, shape and capacity, to the Tesla offering, and is expected to last 15 to 20 years, or at least 6,000 cycles. It is being offered in Australia at $A6,898. The first supplies have arrived in Australia via wholesalers Solar Juice.

LG Chem, in its blurb to installers, says it expect the units to have a retail price of a bit more than $1000 per kW/h ex GST plus inverter solution. “The cost curve will come down over time,” it says.

The units can be upgraded to a total of 12.8kWh with 3.2kWh expansion units. LG Chem says these are expected to be slightly more than 50% of the RESU 6.4Ex price.

Jeff Wehl, from Brisbane-based Ecoelectric, says the technology will easily defy grid costs with a typical cost per kWhr of around 15 cents over 15 years.

He says that a combined package of 5kW of solar panels (Trina), a 6.4kWh LG Chem System, and the associated SMA inverter and home energy mamagement systems will be offered for around $24,000. That equates to electricity at 18c/kWh – well below grid costs (although not including the network connection).

It’s an offering that would suit large power consumers (say 25kWh a day). But the end result is they will use all the power the solar system produces and import as little as 1kWh a day.

“The big difference for Australia is that LG’s unit is available now and it’s certification for use with many inverters is known,” Wehl says of the competition with Tesla and other manufacturers.

“Tesla’s (offering) is sold out until at least mid-2016 and many questions remain about how it can be effectively integrated with grid and renewable energy sources.”

Wehl says the LG Chem RESU can be used as both a hybrid and or off-grid solution and allows for high output with extremely long life spans, which are backed by trusted warranties.

Markus Lambert, from LG Solar, says  another important development with the advent of cost effective battery storage market is the rising efficiency in solar modules.

Until recently, the standard module would have a capacity of 250 or 270 watts. This is now increase to 320 watts and 350 watts and will soon get to 400watts.

That means that while most Australian households had natural size limitations of around 5kW for their arrays, the potential was there to go far beyond that.

“There is value to the roof space.” That will be critical in  adding battery storage to account for much of the house’s electricity needs, and to ensure the solar system can meet the demands of a plug in electric vehicle.

“EVs only make sense if driven by renewables,” he says. “So people will look at solar and storage for electric cars. So the rooftop now has to provide for consumption in day, and at night, and for the electric car,

And while he says the battery storage market is still in its “early adopter” phase and the pricing is not ready for the mass market, ther is room for large reductions in price as volumes drive competition and efficiencies.

This article was originally published on our sister site, One Step Off The Grid. To sign up for the OSOTG newsletter, please click here.  

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  • GlennM

    I have naturally watching the battery storage development with interest. However ther seems to be a serious disconnect between claims of $250 /Kwh that the EV makers seem to be achieving and the stated public retail price of around $1000 / Kwh or more ?

    At $1000 is lead acid tech as used for the last 50+ years not a better return ?

    Many of you here are “off the grid” did you pay over $1000 /KwH ? and did you instsall a measly 5-7.5 KwH ?

    Regards

    • nakedChimp

      buying wholesale battery cells at 250$/kWh (US) is one thing – selling an ESS (Energy Storage System) with battery management, housing, inverter, etc. & warranty for 1000$/kWh (AU) is something different..

      As for lead acid.. if you go for simple AGM cells as they’re being used in golf carts (6V, 230Ah) you’re looking at ~250-300$ (AU retail) last time I checked ~4 months ago, that’s ~200$/kWh for the cells alone.
      Deep cycle thick plated wet lead acid batteries will last longer but set you back a lot of money..

      Now compare specs:
      LiIon: ~2000-3000 cycles to DOD 70-80%
      LeadAcid: ~1000-1500 cycles to DOD 30-40% (AGM)

      Result, LiIon cealls already are cheaper than LeadAcid, BUT they need more sophisticated pampering to be able to go the distance of 2000+ cycles as overdischarging or overcharging will kill them, where as LAB can handle a bit of mistreatment.
      So with LiIon being new and without much experience it’s dearer.. wait 5 years and it will be mainstream.

    • I set up my own Lithium battery in 2012 (after 21 years of Pb-acid use) at a cost of pretty well bang-on $500/kWh, using CALB 400AH cells (=21kWh). That gives me 17kWh usable. Lithium is definitely a way better way to go now if you can DIY a system @$500/kWh.
      I log my system intensively at 1 sec intervals with a good data logger, so I know how it’s going in fine detail, and have determined the efficiency is extremely good- 99% of what my charge controllers output is available for to power loads. That’s way ahead of what good quality Pb-acid can do.

      This winter has turned out to be one of the wettest (it’s flogging down again as I type this) and cloudiest I’ve experienced, and I had to buy a generator to charge the battery recently, after 2 1/2 years of not needing one, although that did, on occasion, involve some serious energy saving measures!

    • mick

      I can only comment on a nuts and bolts low tech approach,i paid $300/per battery(fullriver 120ah deep cycle) which I set up up in strings,the panels,charger,inverter etc have been added piecemeal on an ad hoc basis,on that I would strongly advise the batteries to be all the same birthday preferably the same batch (agm and wets)don’t know if its relevant to lithium if you are not limited by roof space or perhaps an array away from the house I set it to expand over time as the system evolves. excellent advice on monitoring and having a genny available,modern diesel with microprossessor control or wired to cut in when the regulator asks it to,handy when its been cloudy all week and you are 600ks away fishing.very satisfying lifestyle with the occasional mental two-fingered salute.best of luck p.s. sometime in the future im going to look at knocking up a wind genny more for a laugh than out of any need

      • lucy

        I think you’re overpricing agm batteries. Y’can buy as many as you like for about $2 per AH @ 12 volts. (I’m 8 years into a 600AH @24-volt system and still going well.)

        But I’m even more interested in why you’re worrying about capturing/storing energy if you 600 miles away fishing.
        ….or, hehehe, is that a modern-day variation of a fisherman’s yarn?