ARENA says one million Australian homes “hungry” for battery storage

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ARENA CEO says speed and impact of coming battery storage megashift ‘difficult to understate’, but could have huge benefits for networks and consumers.

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One Step Off The Grid

The Australian Renewable Energy Agency has again stressed just how rapidly and thoroughly it expects battery storage to change the shape of Australia’s electricity market, and what networks should be doing to prepare for – and capitalise on – this shift, in an op-ed written by ARENA CEO Ivor Frischknecht.

Frischknecht says the rapid pace of the coming home energy storage ‘megashift’ – a term borrowed from the AECOM study ARENA commissioned, and we reported on here, in early August – will be driven by a fall in battery costs of between 40-60 per cent by 2020, as forecast in that same AECOM report.

Ivor-Frischknecht

As this fall in costs collides with the end to generous state-based solar feed-in tariffs – starting next year – Frischknecht says it will find many of Australia’s one million-plus solar households “hungry for an option that lets them store and use the power they generate, rather than being forced to immediately sell it back to power companies for almost nothing.”

He continues: “It’s difficult to overstate just how quickly things are moving in the energy-storage space. Ergon is just one provider eyeing storage as a way to improve its service to customers and find new markets for its products.

“AGL is offering a solar/battery system for homes (rival Origin also has plans to launch a similar product) and home battery vendors, such as Sunverge and Octillion, are quickly setting up shop in Australia. Within months, every major solar installer will also offer a storage product.”

Frischknecht says that while ARENA is excited by the potential benefits to consumers this solar plus storage market will offer, it is the other side of the equation – the upside for the network – that is the Agency’s real focus.

“That’s because advances in storage hold the promise of removing a key criticism of renewable electricity: its oft-discussed supply variability, driven by the simple reality that the sun isn’t always shining and the wind is not always blowing.

“The AECOM report stresses the need for industry players such as energy retailers, networks and technology suppliers to see these changes as an opportunity rather than a threat. They can undoubtedly play a role in minimising the cost of maintaining a reliable network and mitigate the gold plating that has occurred in the past,” he said.

Attendees take pictures of the new Tesla Energy Powerwall Home Battery during an event at Tesla Motors in Hawthorne, California April 30, 2015. Tesla Motors Inc unveiled Tesla Energy - a suite of batteries for homes, businesses and utilities - a highly-anticipated plan to expand its business beyond electric vehicles. REUTERS/Patrick T. Fallon - RTX1B27W

As for those one million-plus Australian households that already have rooftop solar, Frischknecht says they need to be convinced “their newly affordable home battery system shouldn’t be seen as an enabler of them leaving the grid.”

“Doing so would, in most situations, cost them and those who stay connected more money, and those who leave will run the risk of having a less reliable energy supply. We have to get the message out to consumers that participating in the grid makes it stronger and, in turn, helps further promote the uptake of renewables,” he wrote.

This story was first published on our sister site, One Step Off the Grid. To sign up for its weekly newsletter, please click here.

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5 Comments
  1. john 4 years ago

    How the retailers/networks could gain from installing battery backup here is a few years old from the NZ experience.
    http://vector.co.nz/electricity
    Considering NZ does not have the solar irradiance that most of Australia does but they put this in place at least 2 years ago.
    They sell you a PV and battery backup system that they can use to lower their cost of buying power and any left is for you to use.
    Evidently this too high a hurdle for myopic executives to see more fool them.
    What will happen in Au is people will get battery backup and mitigate their costs the only way the networks are trying to beat this is by putting up demand charge or daily use charge which is one way to ensure they have a path to loosing business.

  2. Kevin Brown 4 years ago

    I hope the Queensland Government is listening to ARENA. Raising fixed charges as they have is no way to convince consumers to stay on the grid. The increased fixed charges disadvantage low consumption households such as my wife and I who are part-pension retirees. When we retired we down-sized to a more energy efficient town house, installed energy efficient appliances and replaced the ridiculously many halogen down-lights with LED’s. We brought our annual consumption down to about 2,000 kWh. But all our efforts to be environmentally responsible have come to nought as our annual electricity expenses shall under the Queensland Government’s new policies be increased by about $65.00 which will wipe out all the savings we hoped to enjoy by taking responsibility for our consumption.

    As soon as the ROI on battery storage equals the current low rate of bank deposits we shall be installing batteries and leaving the grid. We are sick of being held hostage to the latest whim of the regulators and State governments.

    • mick 4 years ago

      don’t blame you mate I had the same b/s 5yr ago and came to the conclusion you have, good planning and drop in costs for storage options will make it easier its not such a big step for a bloke like you because you have made all the initial steps good luck

    • jeffthewalker 4 years ago

      In Qld, tariff 11″service” charge is $1.16 (incl GST) daily. Going off grid allows you to buy 1kWh of gel battery storage per year. Don’t forget to include that in your numbers.

      Going off grid requires that you take your “lifestyle changes” just a step further. Solar plus storage for your 6kWh energy consumption is very affordable/competitive now for days (in Qld) of 50% sunshine. For those cloudy days where your storage won’t get you through, you need to generate some power yourself (the least pleasant option for many reasons) or adjust your energy consumption to match. Going low for a day or three on most occasions is a “toughen up” message. The main exception is refrigeration and that can be managed. For instance, by minimising frozen storage and having a small, efficient “bar” fridge for essentials for dull times.

      I have been off grid for 10 years. And with no back up generator.

  3. Jacob 4 years ago

    Hey ARENA, how about you test these batteries to destruction and tell us which ones give the best value for money.

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