We know that rooftop solar is experiencing a new boom around Australia, as households and small businesses seek sanctuary from soaring electricity prices. But what about battery storage?
According to new data from independent solar comparison website, SolarQuotes, there is no shortage of consumer interest in home batteries, particularly among the huge number of visitors to the site looking to install solar in the near future.
But the mass pilgrimage to solar and storage-based energy self-sufficiency many have predicted for Australia’s residential market – a number of major international battery makers among them – is yet to come, as consumers weigh up costs and benefits and get their heads around new products and offerings.
And most likely wait for cost falls.
The findings were published on Monday as part of SolarQuotes inaugural monthly Australian Solar System Interest Index (auSSI), which uses data collected from the website’s “hundreds of thousands of visitors a month” to offer insights into what Australians want from solar power and battery storage.
For the month of July, SolarQuotes found a “high degree of motivation” for rooftop solar, across all states, with most interest directed towards installing systems sized between 5-6kW, and doing so within the next three months.
Interest in battery storage, however, was found to be “more geared towards it being a future addition, rather than an immediate purchase,” notes SolarQuotes Michael Bloch – a trend that is illustrated in the following charts.
“July’s figures reinforce that the battery revolution is yet to really get under way in Australia, with just 6 per cent expressing a serious intent of installing PV + battery storage from the outset,” Bloch said.
Meanwhile, a slightly higher 10 per cent of solar quote requests from around the country (except the Northern Territory) indicated interest in a “battery ready” solar power system, suggesting both an awareness of the technology, and intent to install it – most likely when the costs come down.
Finn Peacock, the ex-CSIRO engineer who founded SolarQuotes, says cost is definitely the major barrier to battery uptake for most households.
“What we’ve found is that most people think they want batteries… until they see the price,” he told One Step Off The Grid.
For this reason – and also because of the hype generated by the arrival of the Tesla Powerwalls 1 and 2 – Peacock has designed the SolarQuotes site to present an automated pop-up box to customers looking for solar and storage quotes, along the lines of “it’s great that you’re interested, but just FYI, here’s the rough cost of adding batteries to the equation.”
This, says Peacock, is where a lot of people say thanks, but no thanks.
Compounding the still high cost of batteries, Peacock says, is the low cost of solar, which means that “a well installed big system (6kW+) should be enough to make a big dent in your bill,” even without battery storage, both through the “hidden savings” of self-consumption and through exports to the grid.
Interestingly, for those who did want to install solar and storage simultaneously, SolarQuotes data shows that larger battery systems of 10kWh and above were the most popular, making up nearly half of all requests where capacity was specified.
Although, as with PV system size selection, a large percentage (~47%) requested guidance in this regard, Bloch said.
And among those requesting solar and battery system quotes, 50 per cent expressed an intention to use home energy storage to both minimise grid consumption and as a backup power solution, suggesting both money saving and energy security as potential motivators.
This article was originally published on RenewEconomy’s sister site, One Step Off The Grid, which focuses on customer experience with distributed generation. To sign up to One Step’s free weekly newsletter, please click here.