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You are 16, going on 17: The year in review, part 1

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“Baby its time to think

Better beware, be canny and careful

Baby your on the brink”  – The Sound of Music, Rogers and Hammerstein 1965

Only a few of the important events in 2016 and their implications

Although many will think of the Trump election when they think of 2016, we are going to ignore that in this note. Colour me ostrich.

Below we look at only a couple of the trends that we focused on this year. If time permits, Part 2 of this note will cover some other areas and make a few bold predictions about 2017.

A large increase in the global land surface temperature

The 12 month moving average of  the global temperature land sea surface anomaly stands at 0.99 degrees C, or 7% higher than the 20th century average temperature of 13.9 degrees C.  The 20 year (240 month) moving average which smooths the data but at the cost of a significant lag is up 4.3%. Using an excel generated polynomial trend puts the rate of change at about 5% with a 79% correlation coefficient. This is serious. As anyone with an interest knows, and that should be most of us, the global average hides the polar extremes.

Figure 1 Global land sea temperature anomaly. Source NOAA

Figure 1 Global land sea temperature anomaly. Source NOAA

Global PV volumes rocketed up an unexpected 40% to something like 75 GW driven by the extraordinary growth in China, where something like 22 GW were installed in the first six months. A very, very sharp slow in H2 will flow into 2017, which may well be the first year in a decade where global PV volumes fall. Much will depend on the ROW including India, South America and Japan. There are two main points to bear in mind:

  • Global PV volumes drive the “learning rate”. In a wide range of industries you can show that doubling volumes leads to a 15%-25% fall in unit costs. Its going to be way harder to go from 75 GW to 150 GW a year.
  • That said China during the boom years was putting in 100 GW a year of coal powered electricity. There is no real reason why it couldn’t do the same in PV if it wanted to. And there is the rub:
  • What global PV forecasts don’t make explicit is that the forecasts depend on Government policies, these can be renewable subsidies or taxes and thermal subsidies or taxes. Hard to predict changes in those policies produce dramatic changes in demand. Our view remains that renewables are a major tool in the decarbonization policy maker kit and so the rule changes will on average be favourable. As such the picture portrayed in the graph below will hopefully be conservative.
Figure 2 Global PV production. Source: Canadian Solar, Greentech, Mercom capital, ITK

Figure 2 Global PV production. Source: Canadian Solar, Greentech, Mercom capital, ITK

Figure 3 Module cost progression. Source: Canadian Solar

Figure 3 Module cost progression. Source: Canadian Solar

In turn this drove down the cost of solar power in various markets to prices way below those achievable in Australia. Once again the AEMC and the Federal Govt. should be asking themselves this question:

What are we doing so wrong, that the rest of the world can be so much cheaper than Australia on renewable energy?” US $50 MWh is probably the global bench mark for high irradiation areas like QLD.

Figure 4 Utility scale PV auction results. Source: Reneweconomy, BNEF, web

Figure 4 Utility scale PV auction results. Source: RenewEconomy, BNEF, web

Electric vehicle sales grew strongly on the back of a doubling in sales in China but the real news was 400k orders for Tesla model 3

At the end of September global year to date sales were 518K which annualizes to 690K for the full year and compares with 540K in 2015.

However perhaps more importantly we saw the Tesla Model 3 with 400k people putting down deposits in 2016 for a car they can’t get until 2018. Those deposits themselves imply more than 50% growth in the global market.

Secondly, we saw the Chevvy Bolt, a similar spec, although less flashy, car to the Tesla Model 3 start deliveries in California. We think Chevvy can probably sell as many of these cars as it chooses to make with the question in the industry being whether this is a “compliance car” built just to satisfy ZEV policy in California and 9 other USA states, or whether General Motors really sees it as part of its mainstream future.

Figure 5 EV sales, 99% to go. Source: EV-volumes.com, OICA

Figure 5 EV sales, 99% to go. Source: EV-volumes.com, OICA

Lithium battery manufacturing capacity jumping

The jump in manufacturing capacity will greatly assist growth in demand and keeping price down. Of those expansions we think stage 1 of the BMZ facility was online earlier in the year, the Tesla factory will open incrementally (an internal learning curve, BYD will likely meet its expansion target in our view).

Figure 6 Lithium battery pack capacity growth locks in cost reductions. Source. Orecobre, web reports

Figure 6 Lithium battery pack capacity growth locks in cost reductions. Source. Orecobre, web reports

Residential battery offerings exploded in Australia, but sales are still slow

www.solarquotes.com.au  publishes this great table showing 36 – count them – different brands of household storage products. Of those about 33 are lithium based, plus one flow battery and one or two aqueous, hybrid ion types.

Enphase claims to have orders for 80,000 units (about 80MWh)  for its product, and if this is correct it will be a major event by global standards and also a meaningful impact in the NEM.

Outside of the offgrid market though we will be surprised if industry sales in 2016 were much above 5000 units, say 20-25 MWh.

Still by year’s end there were four  products with a capital cost (unit only, not necessarily including installation, and mostly not including inverter) that are under $1000 KWh.

Figure 7 Selected residential products. Source: www.solarquotes.com.au

Figure 7 Selected residential products. Source: www.solarquotes.com.au

Of those the Tesla Powerwall 2 (not yet available) and the GCLE-KwBe 5.6 are on the point of being economic. Prices for some products have already fallen by about 15% or more. The GCLE-KwBe 5.6 is in stock right now at the distributor 1stopwarehouse.com.au but Google doesn’t show any Sydney based retailer/installers.

In our view the criteria for being successful in this market are simple:

1 Make the installation as simple as possible. A bundled inverter will be the winner over time in our view.

  1. Keep the size down and make the product consumer friendly.
  2. No safety issues.
  3. Get the cost per cycle down under $0.30 KWh and really under $0.20 KW

Residential solar prices

www.solarchoice.com.au provides excellent data on the cost of installing rooftop PV. The current cost is around $1.20-$1.30 watt after getting the STC credit. There is a 1/15th reduction in the STC credit in 2017 which may increase prices modestly. These prices are down about 20% on PCP with most of that fall happening in the first half of the year.

Solar + storage: Same question, new answers

Based on the discussion above it ought to be possible to install 4Kw of PV and 5.6 KWh of storage for about $10K in Sydney!!! Only 18 months ago this would have been closer to or even above $20 K.  Your author hasn’t verified this number from an accredited installer, but I plan to.

Figure 8 PV + storage capital. Sources, solarchoice.com.au, solarquotes.com.au

Figure 8 PV + storage capital. Sources, solarchoice.com.au, solarquotes.com.au

The PV system is going to produce about 14 KWh per day on average enough to charge the battery and leave about 8 KWh over for self consumption ignoring efficiency losses.

Average household consumption in NSW is about 6.5 MWh but there are plenty of larger consuming houses of, let’s say, 8 MWh per year or around 22 KWh per day. If we take AGL, their online offer is in the region of $240-$280 MWh depending on City of which grid access (fixed charge)  is around $300-$500 per year.

If we back the fixed access out.  AGL is charging around around $190 – $238 MWh for consumption depending on City.

Figure 9 AGL online offer decomposed. Source: AGL, Ausgrid, Energex, UE

Figure 9 AGL online offer decomposed. Source: AGL, Ausgrid, Energex, UE

We think that even allowing for a $3500 battery replacement after ten years (and cost will surely be lower then) that this system can produce an internal return of around 7%. If you can include the PV+storage in your mortgage, and why not, it seems to be a winner.

Figure 10 Residential + storage IRR model. Source ITKe

Figure 10 Residential + storage IRR model. Source ITKe

Of course these assumptions might be optimistic. On the other hand we haven’t allowed for any inflation in grid delivered electricity price. Prices will be up 8% next year, just ask the AEMC.

We’d go further and say it must be at the point where volume builders on planned estates will start to see the benefits.


David Leitch is principal of ITK. He was formerly a Utility Analyst for leading investment banks over the past 30 years. The views expressed are his own. Please note our new section, Energy Markets, which will include analysis from Leitch on the energy markets and broader energy issues. And also note our live generation widget, and the APVI solar contribution.  

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  • Rod

    As always, a very informative article.

    Is there a system in place to record storage installations? (On and off grid)

  • John Saint-Smith

    Because this article is about global renewable energy and storage market trends I am reluctant to make too much of this error:
    “The 12 month moving average of the global temperature land sea surface anomaly stands at 0.99 degrees C, or 7% higher than the 20th century average temperature of 13.9 degrees C.”

    Strictly speaking this is not correct. The 7% figure is obtained by dividing the rise in global temperature in degrees Celsius by the nominal value of 13.9 C (above the freezing point of water, arbitrarily set as zero on the C scale.) The true 20th Century temperature of the Earth’s surface is 13.9 + 273 degrees above absolute zero = no thermal energy. That is, approximately 196.5 degrees absolute, or Kelvin. As a percentage, the actual increase is .99/196.5 x100% = 0.5%. Despite the fact that this seems like a very small amount, it actually constitutes an enormous increase in the energy stored in the surface of the earth, primarily in the oceans. In a way, it is all the more devastating that the thread maintaining life on this little planet is so thin that a whole 1% increase in that energy may well be enough to snap the lifeline.

    It makes me even more conscious of the fact that while market trends for renewables are an encouraging sign that the capitalist world is beginning to see value in renewables even without considering the ill effects of fossil fuel pollution and climate change, it wouldn’t matter a bit if the renewables were ten or one hundred times the cost of fossil fuels, they are the ONLY hope that our civilization has to save itself from its current death spiral.

    • David leitch

      I always get in trouble for using percentages.

      I do it because I believe 5% rise in the global temperature has more informational content to the average person than 0.5% relative to the Kelvin scale. Even 1C has not much meaning unless you know that global average is 13.9. After all the temperature max-min range every day is about 5C-10C in say Sydney. So why should we worry about a 1C move in the average?

      It points to the broader question for science of better understanding of the impacts of a 2C move. And being able to communicate those impacts so that the need to do something can be more clearly understood.

      So what if the Greenland ice sheet melts in 1000 years when you are worried about next month’s credit card payment.

      All that said I appreciate your comment and perhaps I will move away from using percentages.

  • Peter F

    5000 units average 3kW capacity is 15MW. Let’s say at the mid 2018 it is probably 20,000 units many of which will be higher power of the Powerwall 2/Zcell size, say 80MW For short term stability purposes, if they are grid accessible that is equivalent to 800MW of spinning reserves. Also during that period many of the network batteries being installed around the system will also have been commissioned, probably close to another 6-10MW. That amount of storage plus about 1.5GW of new solar and wind over the next 18 months or so is a significant change. Throw in falling demand and it is pretty much the death knell for at least one gas peaker, unless another coal plant closes

  • Peter Watt

    David, you state the Global Surface Temperature chart shows a correlation coefficient of 79%. It doesn’t. It shows R^2 is .7929, i.e. the proportion of the variability explained is 79%. R (the correlation coefficient) is .8905.

    • David leitch

      Noted

  • solarguy

    David you really do need to verify $10k from an installer for 4kw of PV and 5.6kwh storage. It sounds like you have been given wholesale prices and leaving out inverter/charger cost.

    • David leitch

      I added in $1500 for the battery inverter. As regards wholesale cost, don’t get me started. The two step distribution model in Australia for many goods costs consumers in this country heaps. However in this case I believe the prices for the battery that Finn Peacock lists at http://www.solarquotes.com are more or less retail (but exclude installation and inverter). I may be wrong about this.

      The PV costs are the averages from solar choice of installed costs including inverters.

      • solarguy

        $1500 for the battery wouldn’t even pay for the cheapest hybrid inverter, wholesale ex gst. The GCL 5.6kwh battery once freight cost (lithium batteries attract a premium here for safety reasons) plus mark up and gst, retail for $4400 each, plus installation.

        I would say that the average installed cost for a 4kw PV system is actually a bit higher than Solar Choices stated prices, for good quality panels and quality installation. Cheap prices should always raise suspicion with consumers as they frequently end up costing more in the long run. Check out crap solar web page.

        • David leitch

          I don’t want to argue about it too much, however you do raise the point that the inverter costs are far too high for what they do. Probably as much scope there as anywhere else in the value chain. The solarquotes page does explicitly say $3600 including GST. The solar choice numbers are averages, not the highest or the lowest.

          You can’t be getting quotes from an installer every time you write an article. But I am going to get one for the battery because in my house on the numbers it looks close enough to a good deal.

          Thank you in any event for the feedback. I appreciate discussion of the numbers.

          • solarguy

            No I’m not trying to argue David, but you may note Finn says the word “appears” before the price. On the hybrid inverters, they do a lot and their not that bad on price really for what they do, in fact you can spend more on some grid connect inverters! My advice as a designer, if you are serious about a battery system, don’t go AC couple, DC couple is by far the best way to go and cheaper too!

            The GCL battery gives 3kw power output. AC battery is expensive and power output is miserable at only 270watts. You’ll need 11 of them to match the GCL. So, I recommend them.

            In ending I think it’s helpful to your readers to give them accurate installed pricing indications, as their consumers they can feel disappointed when told of the retail prices.

          • disqus_gF5uXVTUbL

            One take on the analysts strengths and weaknesses:

            General Positive Traits: Adaptability, clear intellect, articulate speech, and ease in communicating ideas; business skills; ability to plan in advance in logical ways; a fine capacity not to worry oneself or others about insignificant matters.
            General Character Difficulties: The tendency to be overly active and nervous; too much pride in one’s intellectual capabilities; selfishness through a sense of isolation; the manipulation of others, especially in terms of the use of other people’s resources; mind games; overly strong attachment to materialism.

          • solarguy

            Wow,GF5 IMPRESSIVE!
            Now, who the hell are you talking about?

          • disqus_gF5uXVTUbL

            When approaching people, its important to be aware of their different character and approaches. You can see David is interested in understanding the financial viability of renewable energy and using various data to form his conclusions. This focus on a meta-analysis with data takes all his energy and he is likely reluctant, disinterested or fail to see the point in understanding the function of an inverter. Since I originally had some technical training I also know the inverter is the central piece of control equipment, largely determining system functionality. In contrast to a person primarily interested in how renewable energy looks from an office on a page, your fieldwork places you in a different approach, more working with “raw materials”, discerning what each piece of technology does, building it up into a design and fashioning it to specific purposes. Whereas David’s purposes are abstract and intellectual, your interest is more applied research in the field. Unfortunately this creates an opportunity for misunderstanding and judgment if he fails to understand we’re all different though have equal ability. His character approach will typically judge the applied research as a subset of his data and think his use of his intellect for more universal themes indicates superiority, however it is just another specific use of the intellect. If we know people can be so different, it helps build a better way to approach them, in a way they may see as valid.

          • disqus_gF5uXVTUbL

            Have a look at the article on Giles Parkinson’s install and you will see a graph of where the inverter is getting the power from to supply the load. This means the inverter is choosing between PV, battery and grid to supply the load. It’s a computer which is choosing based upon firmware programmed by the installer. A sophisticated inverter can change the graphs you see in Giles example. They have profiles for interacting with the grid based upon the needs of different sites. The inverter is casually called an inverter which changes DC to AC, though it is equally a charger which changes AC to DC, so the grid can charge the battery when it is deemed there is a satisfactory grid available. Not all grids are satisfactory, some have inappropriate voltage or frequency. Though a good inverter/charger doesn’t just control a grid, it can control more than one AC source at a time – grid, diesel generator, wind generator, anything. The inverter/charger can be programmed to start the generator under certain conditions. The inverter/charger has a third key purpose as well as being an inverter/charger, it is also a high speed transfer switch, switching between the grid and local power sources so quickly, in milliseconds, it acts as an Uninterruptible Power Supply for the loads. With a sophisticated inverter/charger, there is also behind the meter load management software for both AC and DC loads. This means a dedicated AC or DC cable is wired to a circuit on the inverter/charger and it controls how much power that individual load gets and when. We can imagine this load management software controlling a smart home, a commercial enterprise or an industrial facility. So the inverter/charger is a computer serving as a power control management system. We buy one to the level of sophistication we need.

          • solarguy

            Well GF5, that was very comprehensive. Although I think David might have more of a handle on it than you think

          • disqus_gF5uXVTUbL

            Possibly, well the analysts have done their job on financial tipping points and given us our bearing on the current situation. I think 2017 is going to be about leadership by people such as yourself, specific gear selection for specific customer purposes and building that confidence for a more comprehensive launch of solar storage. Numbers on a page aren’t enough. It has to be seen in the flesh, or at least a string of practical examples everyone can see their situation accommodate for. By customers I mean as above: “lighthouse, hospital, utility, RV, yacht, farm, industry, residence or remote holiday resort on an island”

          • solarguy

            Do you have training in psychology GF5? It sure indicates you have. Look, you have brought up some valid points on human perspectives and personality traits and of course we all have a part to play, looking forward to the common goal of 100% RE, which, we enlightened all know must happen ASAP. As a journalist David et al, really should spend more time gathering info, so as to be accurate enough so that consumers who read articles on the costs of storage don’t contact guy’s like me, expecting the price point to be such, as they have read, only to be disappointed and or think I’m a rip off. Or just as bad, give our FF enemies ammunition to clout us over the head with. I feel I have to be pedantic if we are going win this carbon war and win we must. Our very survival, the survival of this planet depends on people like us getting things as accurate as possible. One way of winning is to limit unintentional misinformation from our side.

          • disqus_gF5uXVTUbL

            I agree entirely. The problem as I see it, at this early stage of uptake, is this gap between the analysts and those in the field. This article appears to rely on Finn Peacock and he is an ex-CSIRO engineer who provides referrals and looks at tech specs, though that’s a long way from the field. I think this publication needs regular case studies, helping all of us understand how specific and broad the different types of installs are. I think there needs to be a couple articles a week, costed, with rationale for gear selection. The publication would launch like a cracker, as the general public gets real examples to get their heads around, begin to gain hope and ideas for their site and get a grip on some of the options. All this will move the country from the deliberation stance, into action. With the macro scene so f__ked up, political leadership so lacking, grids so uncooperative, IMHO we need to kick off with every level of conceivable small scale case study – residential, agricultural, commercial, industrial, government offices, military installs, community based facilities, the lot. I think 2017 is perfect timing for it. With my training, it’s social worker and human development type stuff. I guess I’m interested in the community being empowered and see people being able to generate and store energy as a big part of that.

          • solarguy

            Yes, Finn is a good source of tech info for them all, but he shouldn’t be relied on for accurate price points of products too much. The thing is Finn at times relies on info that he can’t always verify, but he mostly leaves an out for himself in the wording if he isn’t sure.
            Even though two articles a week on storage, may leave David and Giles in a bit of a cold sweat about that prospect as even one will take considerable time and effort to get right. There are so many companies trying to sell their systems with different technologies it has made my head spin. One of the things I have learned from the market. 1. Price isn’t a reliable indicator of function or of quality. 2. The average punter who doesn’t know his arse from his elbow is sadly being swayed by big buck marketing with out being able to make an informed choice whether it is suitable for them or not.
            Case in point. A guy contacted me in October, saying he wanted a quote for extra PV and storage. I suggested a DC coupled system as they are cheaper and some inverterchargers are battery agnostic giving him more choice. Added to this it would not supply his AC load, which he dearly wanted and would not supply power if the grid went down. But no he wanted Enphase micro inverters and Enphase batteries, although he had no shading issues. When I informed him the cost would be prohibitive as he needed several Enphase batteries (each Enphase battery will only supply 270wh) to supply the AC load he couldn’t be convinced. He was duded by the marketing and frankly so had I. He has since spent thousands of dollars more, than he would have with my offer, choosing another company who were happy to go along with his delusion and gloss over the pitfalls. I have since heard that he is upset that his power bills haven’t reduced much.
            On the political and network landscape don’t get me started. I have done a few things in my life, soldier 36 yrs ago, mechanic after that, then got f_ked over by Lupus and Rheumatoid which caused me to be off work for a quite a considerable time. I always interested in solar, so studied RE and have had a business for 9yrs on the solar coaster.
            I was raised by a sar major father, most of the family have been military over the last 5 generations and perhaps that’s why I can be pedantic at times. It certainly came in handy sorting the bullshit from the truth with doctors. I see myself as an idealist and share the same RE dream as all of you who get on this forum, but we have to be realists as well. Realists to the fact that bullshit can and does baffle brains. I can see us winning, but we can’t be complacent. Time is not on our side and if we a going to convince the weak heads of the truth we can leave no stone unturned.

          • disqus_gF5uXVTUbL

            Ha that’s why we seem to be communicating so effortlessly. I too learned the KISS principle and the seven P’s in the military – prior preparation and planning prevents piss poor performance. Without getting too contentious, the analysts do marvel at certain brands and seem unable to assess which is for what purpose. This is a true loss (of cash and performance). This is a real problem. There is little technical rationale in their articles which does question if the technical rationale was simply figures on a page. Like David’s comment the inverter should be reduced in value cause it doesn’t do much when its often in the same metal box as all the smarts of the system. I think there’s allot of unconscious product prejudice, and having a basic requirement for articles/installs to have a technical rationale would help sort the shit from the clay. It’s so clear to me this is why we’re stalled with the other side attacking with claims we can’t make it work. There’s need to be a much better working relationship between installers and those telling the story. The articles need to be a bit more sincere with gear fitting customer purpose. In Aus we apparently have a bad rep for that anyway. Openness, honesty, transparency would sort it and we all win to get the ball rolling. Somehow this bridge between journalism and tech in practice needs to be bridged.

          • solarguy

            I haven’t heard of the seven p’s for a long time, never the less it is very bloody true. I can hear my old man telling me when I was just a pup, check, double check and recheck and remember, just checking once isn’t a guarantee the bloody thing won’t goes tits up when it’s needed most. That’s why armourer’s would squeeze off at least 100 rounds into a pit, in successive 5 second bursts to prove there should be little chance of a stoppage.

            Which brings me to this point. There are so many Hybrid offerings on the market now it’s hard to tell which is good for the long run, as most haven’t been around long enough in the field to tell and to a point some well known and trusted brands with new models could be a disaster in the making, who knows, only time will tell. So I’m reasonably happy to say, if a system ticks all the boxes, isn’t overly complicated and has the right price point and has the backing of the manufacturer give it ago, because this is new territory. Australia has been picked as a testing ground by all these manufactures, there is going to be some failures for a multitude of reasons. Enphase is may not succeed, because of their high price point and because their technology locks you in. Plus, their battery is so piss poor on performance. Some installers love them as they are quick and easy to install, which is no great consolation if you need 6 of them to start your AC at night for instance.

            Your last paragraph I agree with whole heartedly, it’s time to step up.

          • disqus_gF5uXVTUbL

            It’s great Australia is a testing ground for new manufacturers, my only concern is the maze this may present to bewildered customers. I can’t imagine how much trepidation there must be making a substantial purchase with no way to evaluate options. I hope too many of us don’t have to learn hard and costly mistakes. We know systems are diverse and suit different applications and its just hoping people find their way to the right one. I think buying a solar system is a bit like buying a car and deciding upon a sedan, 4 door, 2 door or utility. I hope this website can assist with this somehow. I really think it’s ethical for each article to have a rationale for the chosen system design and main components.

          • solarguy

            Sorry, I’m back on deck now, had things to do and a virus made a sneak attack on me. And yes I feel just peachy.
            Some consumers will loose and same for retailers, it is indeed a maze. This is what I recommend punters consider upper most when choosing a hybrid system.

            1. If your going to spend your hard earned, there is no point getting a system that doesn’t have a UPS function, Enphase doesn’t and ditto Powerwall 1.

            2. No battery is allowed to be installed inside the living envelope, an attached garage is fine though, ditto a verandah if it’s big enough. If you don’t have one, then a battery that can be mounted outside(IP54 or IP65 rated) is needed, ditto inverter/charger. Enphase can’t be mounted outside.

            3. Know what loads you want to run e.g. AC? and for how long, all the usual stuff, fridge, lights, TV’s, computer’s etc.
            Modern inverter AC’s don’t have high current draw on start up compared to non inverter types and so can be run on a battery that has a power output of 3kw and a capacity of say 5.6kwh. Once it gets to temperature they can use very little.

            4. DC couple is best in my opinion, it will look after the battery and is more efficient round trip.

            So here a are some inverter/chargers and batteries that have all the desirable characteristics, starting with inverters:- Sungrow, Redback, Powerwall.

            Batteries:- GCL and LG Chem.

            The batteries and inverters above are at an affordable price point, come with monitoring and are straight forward to install. They also have good warranties. A Sungrow 5kw inverter can be had for around $2,600 retail, GCL 5.6kwh usable, has 3kw power output, Li-ion battery and retail for around $4k each, plus install. These can be stacked as high as 8 units, very versatile, so you can start with one and add more later. The LG can only be stacked twice at this stage, but at 10kwh each isn’t too bad.

          • disqus_gF5uXVTUbL

            With point one, I think a UPS is really important for rural people. Great examples of a few really workable systems at reasonable prices. I really think 2017 is going to be an exciting year for installers and this website.

          • solarguy

            Well yes UPS is important, but for everyone really. In 2015 we had a cat 2 cyclone here in the lower Hunter, a hell of a lot of people were without power in places for weeks, food went off quickly and they had lost comms too, so they couldn’t let the world know they were in the shit and that was just 5km from Maitland. they would have dearly loved a solar/ storage system with UPS. When all of the systems I mentioned come with UPS except Powerwall 1, why would anybody choose against that feature.

          • disqus_gF5uXVTUbL

            Sorry I’ve skipped over responding to your technical points about systems. It’s because I like to be technology agnostic. It’s an influence from my training as a social worker where they like to give clients options and work towards the client’s “self determination”. It’s also a really delicate subject making generalisations about equipment when people tend to get attached and find it hard to have an easy going discussion.
            For the sake of illustrating the ethical orientation I think an article like this should really take to reporting on case studies, I will share my rationale for my property and its gear selection:
            a) I’m not a risk taker and very conservative so chose a company with a track record since 1975 (Victron),
            b) price was a huge issue so I researched the minimum size inverter I needed to run what I need in a grid outage, so chose a Victron 2500W continuous output power and 6000W peak (runs all the small stuff plus one high power kitchen appliance). There’s been 4 outages and this works well for me (Victron $2200),
            c) with the battery, I couldn’t afford a new generation chemistry and wanted something I had experience wiring so chose 4x AGM Ritar RA12-200. Is a 12V and 200Ah battery and each battery can supply 2000A (for 5 seconds) or 24kW so I knew 4 could easily supply the 6kW peak power needed by the inverter in a power outage. The battery can be recycled and I see it as transitional until longer lasting batteries come down in price. I chose a 24V system for a 33m2 building and the batteries have a battery balancer fitted to equalise the two strings. They are discharged 20% to 30% each night,
            d) my electrician who did the AC also converts fridges to DC, so that building runs a 220L DC fridge, a few merit sockets, regular DC sockets and USB chargers. I fitted these to give the system some redundancy. I might also get a 24V water pump for this building,
            e) the PV is 1500W of Canadian Solar, 2x strings of 3 panels wired in series producing a nominal 72V. Each string can be measured separately at the roof top isolator. The gable roof just fits the 6 panels on the NE side,
            f) solar controller is also Victron MPPT 150V 70A,
            g) with monitoring recently got a Color Control which shows a picture of where energy flows are going, has detailed individual fields and sends graphs to the internet. Other equipment like the inverter/charger and solar controller can also be programmed remotely with this device.
            All in all, the system parts cost about $8300 plus I think the electrician needed to do $800 of work wiring the inverter, upgrading the meter box at the house and wiring in the system. So the system is chosen primarily on cost, track record of manufacturer, designed for a small building, simple design for easy maintenance and the inverter/charger is battery agnostic so a new generation battery can be added later. A battery is important to me because I like to feel independent. The design of this building is fairly stand alone from the rest of the property if needed, in case the house on the property is rented separately (separate electricity). If that happened I’d probably parallel another inverter/charger later, doubling the inverter output power to 5kW. Presently this solar system supplies the whole property for three people in summer and half the power in winter.
            With this website and it’s stories, I don’t know this level of technical detail is needed for a story, though some sort of rationale for system choice helps readers evaluate if such a system suites them or they should look to other types or configurations of systems. I think the character of both the property and the customers, plays a big role in system choice and that’s what makes case studies interesting. I think buying a solar system is like buying clothes. They need to fit and we need to like them.

          • solarguy

            The Victron’s are good a mate swears by them I have a small Victron powering my shed for years now. Once my big hybrid system is up and running in about 4 weeks, I’ll give you the details.

            As far as your story goes some will find it interesting as it’s mainly DIY.

          • disqus_gF5uXVTUbL

            A small note with Victron, when the rules changed with inverters for Australia recently, Victron had to redo its anti-islanding relays inside the device and these new inverter/chargers will be available in Aug, the au sales manager told me. Once done, their model range for managing one external AC source will be up to 5kVA and their model for managing two external AC sources will be up to 10kVA. My inverter/charger is a model with the older relays, which is only categorised as a remote inverter with charger facility, unless extra external anti-islanding relays are purchased.

          • solarguy

            Well you bought what you could at the time.

          • disqus_gF5uXVTUbL

            Why not ask renew economy if they would be interested in your latest install? Frame it up as suiting the specific needs of the occupants and property…

          • solarguy

            Yeah, I can’t see why not, up to them really.

          • disqus_gF5uXVTUbL

            I think your research is really thorough and your one of the most informed people who posts on this site. I think it would get a better balance between the human interest aspect, as well as the technical rationale. I think this is really important as we move into mass adoption of battery systems.

          • solarguy

            Thanks for the accolade. One of the things that shit me about the home building industry, is that they persist in designing energy inefficient shit boxes. You know what I’m talking about, they give you a big ducted AC as part of the deal, with big west facing windows, which requires the energy output of black hole to cool it. The poor punter then calls me for help, on their knees at the size of the power bill, which can be between $1-2k a quarter.
            If the market won’t demand energy efficient houses, they won’t supply them and all because the average family haven’t clue of what their getting into. When I tell them that if their house had have been designed better and left out the big ducted AC and chosen individual inverter splits, plus a good SHW system, it would have cost them about the same and their bills would have been far less. They stare at me like bunnies in the head lights.

            The juicy, sexy, exciting stuff is this:- A typical 4 bed OZ home can be designed around passive solar principals and coupled with split inverter AC’s, an ET SHW system, a 5-6kw PV system and 10kwh of battery storage, would cost around $20k extra, over a 30yr mortgage, they would never miss it. Power bills would all but disappear! They would get that money back in about 10yrs.

            Governments need to educate home buyers and introduce better building codes. The LNP won’t do it, but Labor and Greens are the hope in ending disasters like this.

          • disqus_gF5uXVTUbL

            Yep this happens in every field. Takes time for the leading edge to develop prototypes and new business models, though unfortunately policy doesn’t change until human awareness develops a certain tipping point. So if we back it right up, human awareness is a tipping point before technology is a tipping point. Human awareness produces the leaders, as well as the mass tipping point, and the leaders have to work within the same culture as everybody else. Bit dreary or exasperating, except to the extent of letting go of their destiny and being ourselves. Ultimately I got solar because I wanted to be in alignment with my own values. Other than the two other people on my property, no one else I know in my town shares my values or has seen my solar system. Just how it is. I’m unconcerned. I feel privileged there’s two people with me who are in virtually complete resonance with my values.

          • solarguy

            It’s good to have some one who shares your way of thinking. When I was 12 my parents gave me an electronics kit for Christmas, that was a buzz (pardon the pun). Anyway it had a solar cell in the kit and not knowing what that was, I asked the repository of all knowledge (my old man) what it did. Even though he couldn’t explain how it worked, but knew it made electricity when exposed to sun light, I unplugged the battery pack and introduced it to the simple radio circuit I had spent an hour or more constructing, whacked in the sun and was delighted that it worked. That was the first time in my life I realized you could get something for nothing, I was stoked big time. It sparked something in me that I never lost. Solar has come a long way in the decades since. Even though about 1.5million households in OZ have solar on their roofs, no where near enough people are switched on to it. Yeah I know to many puns. With the desperate climate emergency we find ourselves in, so many are still ignorant to the technology and what it can do. The fact that as you know, at this time in human history and with the problems we have caused with burning FF, we have the means to get out of the shit. No fuel costs, no pollution. Of an afternoon when I finish work, I enjoy nothing more than to pour myself a tall glass of who gives a gives a shit and sit on the back patio and watch my 3kw west facing array making free power and dream of what can be for all of us and remember back to that Christmas when I was 12 and that first solar cell. Magic! As a matter of fact I’m going to do that right now and keep the dream alive!

          • disqus_gF5uXVTUbL

            Something eerie about that almost like your parents had an anticipation of a kind. Hit the mark and stuck in there. Hope your enemies aren’t as accurate. Well you must have been working with solar cells as long as most on this site. Got the passion before the rest of us. I just got a kit radio and mine didn’t have the solar cell!

          • solarguy

            Oh mate, eerie hell no, they wouldn’t have known what was in the kit for sure, but it did turn out to be prophetic. Enemies, I really don’t have any, sure there are some weak head’s I despise and their not in love with me either, clash of ideology!

            The only true enemy I have is my auto-immune disease, with this cold virus I have received from Santa, my immune system goes into immediate action, sends in a couple of divisions, when a platoon will do the job.

            I have only been working with PV for about 13yrs, but yes it really is my passion. Sorry to hear your kit didn’t have solar cell. you might be interested in getting a solar radio from ebay, I got mine for $38, it’s the duck’s nut’s.

            What service in the military were you in? Where you on active service?

          • disqus_gF5uXVTUbL

            Army. Year operational service in Cambodia. Didn’t have to fire. Don’t think I was ever shot at although there was shooting around, in the strangest places, going through an intersection and on another occasion someone shooting past me trying to shoot someone else – a soldier angry with a local civilian riding past me on a motor scooter. I was late SLR and early steyr generation and we were some of the first to carry the steyr overseas. The early steyr with the long barrel before the urban warfare side of things began. I learned some of the local language. Travelled over much of the country. Had a profound impact seeing the effects of war, being poverty and lack of spending on anything much. Pretty shocked. Never really settled back in. Couldn’t believe one part of the world was living one way and another oblivious. Never achieved acceptance. Have a bit of hyper vigilance hanging around. Probably led to me retraining in welfare work, psychotherapy, meditation.

          • disqus_gF5uXVTUbL

    • David leitch

      Here is the article about the retail price of the battery ex inverter, ex installation
      https://www.solarquotes.com.au/blog/gcls-e-kwbe-battery-something-similar-will-change-world/