How battery storage will change household energy market | RenewEconomy

How battery storage will change household energy market

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The cost of rooftop PV has fallen sharply, but for many consumers it may still not be a sound economic investment without storage. But what is the cost of batteries? And what are the implications for network providers? This could be the next big debate in the energy industry.

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The plunging cost of solar PV means that it may now be half the cost of grid-based electricity, according to some industry estimates. But the economics of buying solar PV systems is still not clear for those who cannot consume most of the energy produced on their rooftops, because owners of rooftop solar systems are now getting paid little or nothing for the electricity they export.

So perhaps the time is approaching when the question should be asked: is it worth considering energy storage? Is it cost effective? Should householders go it alone, or in a community group? And what are the implications for other network users? Already, network operators and generators are bleeding because every solar panel that is added reduces demand and eats away at their centralised generation model. Batteries would only accelerate that change.

These were a series of questions that were posed by Gordon Weiss, an energy expert from the consultancy and advisory firm Energetics at the recent 2nd Summer Study into Energy Efficiency and Decentralised Energy in Sydney.

The first question is a bit of a no-brainer. As we wrote last Tuesday, the cost of solar PV has fallen to the extent that it has achieved “socket parity” in many places in Australia. Weiss thinks it’s even better than that. His estimates of the levellised cost of solar PV is between 12c/kWh and 14c/kWh, meaning that it is half the cost of electricity bought from the grid.

See the graph below for an illustration of these costs. For the energy and technology wonks, Weiss bases his assumptions on two different system sizes, assuming 14 per cent capacity factor, a 7 per cent discount rate, and a 30-year economic life.

weiss lcoe solar


weiss exportsThis leads to the next problems. Generating electricity at this price is a no brainer when most of it can be consumed on the premises.

However, failing some clever and precise orientation of solar panels to the east, north and west, that is not possible for most households, who find that they have to export much of their electricity back to the grid. At best, they are getting the wholesale prices paid to coal-fired generation, mostly around 6c/kWh. They lose money on this transaction.

This graph (above right) illustrates the problem. Even on a 1.5kW system, a lot of electricity can be consumed at a 40c/kWh discount to Origin Energy’s peak rate, but much of the electricity produced by the rooftop system has to be exported.

So what to do? Either achieve a further reduction in solar PV costs per kW, or shift the output of the panels so that less solar output is exported, and less grid power is imported. To shift the output means either to move the timing of household use – in the same way the time of use tariffs are designed to do – re-orient the panels, or consider battery storage.

This graph below sums up the problem.

battery storage

Battery storage is now an emerging opportunity. Some companies are already rolling out battery storage packages, and the industry forecasts a significant drop in costs in coming years.

Weiss has run some numbers on the battery storage option, and they are illustrated in the graph below. They are really only designed to be indicative. The consumption numbers are based on a large home with plenty of consumption, and some may disagree with the technology costs, both for solar PV and battery storage, which are evolving quickly anyway. The point is to provide a useful illustration for the choices that will be made, and for the critical debate about the shaping of our energy systems that must surely follow.

battery storage

Based on these assumptions, Weiss crunches the numbers and works out that the sweet spot for a solar PV/Battery set-up is for a 5.3kW solar PV system that provides just enough power for 24 hours of household demand, and a 10.6 kWh battery capacity which stores surplus power to be used at night.

That means no import and no export. But there are several important caveats.

So long as the LCOE of solar PV is greater than the FiT (for exports to the grid), the best size for the solar module is the one that just supplies the house. If the LCOE is less than the FiT, then the sky is the limit.

The addition of a battery system only works if the LCOE for the battery plus solar module is below the power (grid cost). And nothing works if the LCOE for the solar PV module is greater than the cost of grid power.

But there are other considerations and challenges: Would householders need more than one day’s storage, to cater for the days when there is no sun, is back-up generation required, or is a connection to the grid enough? Or is it more sensible to pool storage capacities at a community-scale, rather than individual homes.

That then raises another problem.

Already, other network users may see no value in solar PV if they see it as merely using capacity, not necessarily reducing peak demand and is not being billed for consumption. That, Weiss, notes, could lead to “capacity” charging for network connections – something that has been quietly introduced in parts of the market. And that may kill the economics of solar PV along the way.

The complication of adding battery storage is that it will reduce peak demand, so can be a benefit to all electricity consumers because of reduced network costs. At the same time, that also makes it harder for networks to recover their  investment through consumption based tariffs.

“The value of this trade-off needs to be debated,” Weiss says. He says distributed renewable energy is about to be very big because it is now cost effective in terms of generated power, and even more so with storage. But while coupling it with storage can reduce peak load demand, it affects the cost recovery of existing networks.

“Renewable energy is now ‘affordable’, but who pays to make it dispatchable?” he asks. And, he suggests, it is an argument that the renewable energy industry should be leading now, because it requires a new way of thinking about energy markets.

As we noted at the start, the energy models of the incumbent utilities are already being threatened by the impact of solar, and battery storage will be an even bigger challenge. The utilities will either respond by adapting to a new business model, or by erecting barriers (in the form of regulation of capacity tariffs) to protect the model that already exists.

“Those that support renewable energy should be leading this discussion, or those who don’t support it will jump in and they will say that renewable energy is a gimmick,” Weiss says. “That discussion needs to be had now.”


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  1. Howard Patrick 7 years ago

    So what if anything do we know about the CSIRO’s Ultrabattery.

    A company called Ecoult is working on developing it for large scale storage and has done so on King Island.

    It would be instructive to know what, if any, work the CSIRO is doing to develop this technology for use by householders in Australia.

    Despite the public funding used to support this technology I have not been able to find any concrete information on this aspect of the technology.

    Given claims about the substantially lower cost of the Ultrabatteries, compared to lithium based batteries, it seems more information should be fothcoming from the CSIRO?

    • Ron Barnes 7 years ago

      The CSIRO in Newcastle Developed this battery try contacting them for more information.

  2. Tim Buckley 7 years ago

    Solar with storage is a huge game changer. It requires a massive rethink on how the regulated electricity system, regulated as a “public good”, can be remodelled to encourage this move to lower cost, distributed clean energy. If the State governments were not the main owners of the state electricity generators and transmission assets, they would logically be encouraging this trend with open arms. By lowering the required investment in power infrastructure upgrades, they would be lowering the cost of power to taxpayers. A more efficient, cleaner system. Perfect, except for the thorny question of what to do with those legacy fossil fuel based assets built in the last century. Tart them up and sell them off to our superannuation funds? Not mine, thanks!

  3. Alistair 7 years ago

    It would be interesting to put an electric car into the equation.
    I just got an electric bike and after only a few weeks i can comfortably say it will save me a lot of money on petrol form those short trips into town, where im normally too buggered to pedal a bicycle around.
    Its got my mind thinking about an electric car….and if it offered battery storage that ran the fridge or washing machine at night there would be another advantage.
    I dont buy the “you dont use the car to power the house now” comment, because petrol cars are not setup to do this from a practical perspective.
    As an electric car the only barrier to this for me is that it couldnt be a work car as it wouldnt be getting charged at home from the solar panels.

    • Louise 7 years ago

      You might want to lobby Hyundai to sell their Hyundai Sonata Hybrid, which they are selling in the USA for less than US$26,000 dollars, to sell in Australia.

      The car comes with a 47 kwh battery, goes 120 km on electric, and then switches to petrol.
      The car comes with 10 years warranty, however the car battery has a live time warranty to the original purchaser only, meaning, after the 10 year warranty expires, the original owner can get the battery fixed/swapped even after 15 or 20 years. Hyundai USA say they are the only car manufacturer who does that.

      There are youtube videos about the car.

      Hyundai Australia has no plans of introducing the car in Australia, stating that their marketing research showed that there are not sufficient buyers for this car in Australia to make it viable.

      In the USA, the “Hyundai Sonata Hybrid” costs US$5000 more than their petrol model.
      Australia has higher car import taxes so that car would be more expensive in Australia.

      The car does not have wireless, inductive charging which would be required to get me interested in buying an electric hybrid car.

      Other than that, I like the car and it would fit my needs.

      I never drive more than 120 km a day except once a year when I go on holidays.

      Therefore, I can not consider buying a pure electric car but if Hyundai where to ship the Hyundai Sonata Hybrid equipped with wireless inductive charging, to Australia, then I would buy/lease this car. My current lease runs out in about a years time.

    • David 7 years ago

      The biggest barrier to uptake of electric vehicles is “range anxiety”. If you decrease the range even further by using the battery for other purposes then the vehicle is effectively useless as a car.

      As for the FIT you receive; why should the power retailers be forced to accept power from you at 3 times the cost they can get it from a wind farm? It is like arguing that the bank should loan you money at the same rate they pay you for accepting your deposit.

      • Chris Fraser 7 years ago

        Exactly. I see no benefit for a retailer to take any available extra energy from a car battery plugged online. At least, not for more than they buy non-Bonused PV output. i don’t see any benefit for retailers selling less energy or being efficient at all. It is however a good for the householder as they may get out of paying 52c/kWh at peak times, then charging their car for 14c/kWh in the small hours.

    • Bede 7 years ago

      Imagine if the electric car had a range less than your mileage Monday to Friday. Then you could charge it up on weekends and it would last you all week….

      That’s assuming you couldn’t charge it at work from renewable energy. If you only needed to top it up by the amount of your trip to work, that may only be a couple of kWh.

      The Tesla S(edan) has a range of 300 miles at 55mph with Li batteries. Other manufacturers are catching up with them every day.

      Emerging smaller, cheaper, longer-range batteries will soon make the electric car’s range similar to the petrol car.

      • Bede 7 years ago

        whoops, I meant ” …*more* than your range Monday to Friday” (first sentence).

        • Bede 7 years ago

          Sorry Giles, Hell, this heat is getting to me. I meant to say:

          “Imagine if your electric car had a range which was greater than your expected mileage Monday and Friday…..

          • Louise 7 years ago


            If I understand you correctly, you would not want to have to charge your car more often than once a week?

            If you had a wireless charger which sets you back 4k and should be standard equipment and not optional equipment, then you would not have to do anything other than driving your car into your garage, over the charging pad and you are done. The car needs only setting up once and henceforth, will do as you programmed it to do, eg charge your car automatically, as soon as you park it over the charging pad.

            Qualcomm – Wireless inductive charging
            Robert Llewellyn discovers inductive charging technology at a Qualcomm press event.

    • Louise 7 years ago
    • Ron Barnes 7 years ago

      After reading all of the above, my, $50,600 for 5.5 kw unit will never pay for its self.
      It has blown up regulary for the last 5 years of warenty which almost up in 4mths and failed again. So I call it prepaid energy.
      I installed it because I believe in the use of clean energy.
      My night time lights and computer run of batteries which are charged by wind and a 2x 250 watt pannels which is being upgraded to 2kw on a solar tracker ive built.
      All of my lighting is 12 volt and this power is broken down to various voltages for laptops note pads main computer etc , 12 volt lights consist of leds which I bought through Ebay, rather cheaply over a period of time.
      Nowing all this and my German manufactured Fronius IG40 inverter is going to fail on a yearly basis.
      I will never recover my outlay which I did to help the enviourement.
      But I hope to leave the plannet in a little better state when I decese im 65 now so I wont see the benefit of my outlay even thought I Love the concept of Solar energy it is not very efficent in its present form their is a massive heat loss in inverters which is wasted energy. It could be used as top up for hotwater systems. Thus unit could run cooler lessening it having falures all the time. I have installed cooling fans inside the cabinet which houses the Inverter which run of 12 volt also this on its own has not prevented this latest falier i was going to add apiezo cooler next but are about to give up on the whole thing as a terific waste of money I should have used to holiday and enjoy my Retirement.

  4. Gordon Garradd 7 years ago

    Giles, here is a PV panel layout that will deliver fairly even power throught the day to better match domestic and some business loads:

    but yes, storage for evening domestic peak usage is required to give zero imports. The standing charges are the sting in the tail of the electricity retailers though- $1.38/day for Essential Energy!

    Off-grid is looking better all the time, and the greater efficiency of LiFePO4s vs Lead-acid, along with their reduced cost, makes them the ideal way to go. See my comparison here:

  5. John D 7 years ago

    All this assumes that the panels and battery will be owned by the householder. Part of the problem with this is assumption is the investment is vulnerable to changes in policy and the price paid. It also means that, if the householder decides to go off-grid they are exposed to problems with days when the sun doesn’t shine unless they also invest in a back-up generator.
    It is worth asking what what would happen if the panels and/or battery were owned by the power company? (And the homeowner paid for the space used (or given better tariffs and/or ability to use power from the batteries during blackouts.)
    There should be cost savings from a larger installation and the ability of the power company to use the battery to reduce their dependence on expensive peaking power. Locating at the home also means that batteries and panels might be located in places where there are higher risks of grid overload. Panel orientation may also be changed to suit differing demands at various times of the day instead of simply going for maximizing daily output and…

  6. George Parry 7 years ago

    The assumption most people make when installing pv is that all the power you produce will go towards reducing the power you use. It doesn’t. And it’s a cute accounting trick used by energy retailers to maximise their profits. In the middle of the day, while your pv is generating power, any power in excess of what you are presently using is fed back into the grid, for which you will receive payment at one third the price you pay for incoming energy. The key is “what you are presently using”. Energy you produce when you are not home using appliances does not turn the meter backwards. You tend to produce energy when you are not at home so it is exported to the grid. Then when you get home and turn on appliances, the sun has gone down and you are buying back that same exported energy for 3 times the price!
    All I can say is “Bring on battery storage.”

  7. Dave Johnson 7 years ago


    Any chance you could give us a link to the actual equations in articles like this. You’ve given us all the inputs, but not the actual calculation that was used. I could come up with my own, of course, but that does not help me to evaluate the conclusions drawn from the model you are discussing.

    I do realize that not everyone wants to mess with the math, but lots of your readers seem to have technical backgrounds, so I doubt that I am the only one who would like to see the equations.


  8. Beat Odermatt 7 years ago

    Should we all feel guilty about changing towards a low carbon economy? Changes have occurred in the past and we had winners and losers. When railways were built,transport companies with horse and buggies went out of business. Later on, the same did happen to many railway companies, when motor vehicles became mass produced and affordable. Power companies can survive in an new environment. They may have to start thinking outside the 9dots and work for better with innovative solutions. For example they could develop the widespread introduction of micro-generation using technologies such as Ceramic Fuel Cells. They may be able to move away from using expensive long distance high voltage power grids and work in closer with residents providing leasing arrangements for micro-generation plants etc. Innovation and cooperation will help power companies prosper.
    We did see massive changes during the last couple of decades. We did see traditional phone services being replaced by mobile phones of VOIP. We may see that new technologies are leading to greater energy efficiency, more production and better storage of renewable energy. Freedom does not only mean having the right to vote every few years. Freedom means that we have choice. In former Eastern Europe, people had to work on farms owned by the State. They did not have the “freedom” to farm their own land. Maybe generating and storing our own power may provide a new “freedom”?

  9. Jeremy waller 7 years ago

    Battery storage will be a game changer. As this technology begins to take off there will definitely be a regulatory change so that an excise is placed on power generation making it illegal to generate and consume power because the government will be running the ” power raquet”. Remember anything that the government cannot control or tax is illegal!!

  10. eric ter laare 7 years ago

    the logical answer is to bypass the grid and run a cable directly to your neighbour and sell your surplus power at a rate less than the retail rate, but more than the feed-in tariff both win and the generators loose. plus it will be a cash transaction so no GST! it is a no brainer!

  11. Keith 7 years ago

    If as you say the PVs will generate more/excess power during the day when we are not home, does that mean we turn the old thinking on it’s head and dump the old “off-peak” water heaters, etc and timers that turn on dish washers at night, and start doing all this during the day and turn these devices off at night?
    So whilst you are at work your PVs are quietly powering your hot water systems, dish washers & washing machines, etc and hopefully charging your battery systems.
    A side benefit of this would be a much quieter house at night!

  12. David 7 years ago

    The numbers given in the example are highly misleading because they are based on averages. Solar panels do not provide an average amount of power each day and users do not have consistent demand that is identical each day. Apart from seasonal variation in solar output and load, the solar power will vary hugely from day to day. One day there will not be enough output to even meet the 6 kWh daytime use. The next day the array might generate 30 kWh and half of it must be exported or lost.
    For the load, array and battery sizes given, I would estimate that you would struggle to meet even 70% of the load from array and battery. Even doubling the battery size would not help very much.
    It is much better to use the grid as a virtual store; it is almost 100% efficient, effectively limitless in capacity, never wears out and needs no maintenance (from you). It also takes up no space on your property, does not present a safety hazard to you, needs no exotic substances, has zero capital cost and is much less likely to set your house on fire.

    • Ron Barnes 7 years ago

      My solar Unit 5.5 kw never in its whole life produced better than 3.6 kw per hr so it is not very efficent.
      It is set up in the recomended angle also facing due north spot on.
      Basickly solar units supply power to the grid which make up for grid losses, witch your energy supplier gets extreemly cheap compared to what you get paid by your state which it is alledged it paid for by other consumers.
      When your period of time for rebate ends.
      The state of New South Wales has sent me a letter stating you will receive nothing other the small amount the buyer pays, .06 cents a kilowat not much for helping to replace grid losses which are factured into energy bills .
      That brings me to the next point of of grid axcess payments we all pay this, it is shown on your electricty bills. So one way or another the user for the system pays wether a user or a home supplier. their is no such thing as free energy it is Enviourementally safe non poluting after manufacture for its liftime,approximately 25 years if they last that long.
      It has been a very expensive exercise to help the enviourement a excelent cause but as a money saver the result represents prepaid energy at a very inflated price when you include the capital outlay of $50,600, VERY EXPENSIVE ELECTRICTY.

  13. Mike 7 years ago

    The issue of who pays the distributers for their services will have to be resolved one way or the other if the model of charging for the movement of electrons doesn’t pay their costs.
    I would have thought it more equitable for consumers to pay the distributer directly for connection, but that is not how the system works right now.
    I think this would be better than thousands of generators hammering away in the dead of winter throughout the land to get those batteries up.

    • Louise 7 years ago

      “The issue of who pays the distributers for their services will have to be resolved one way or the other if the model of charging for the movement of electrons doesn’t pay their costs.”

      Functional obsolescence will resolve the grid issue.

      I base my opinion on the continued decline in PV technology costs, the emergence/prevalence of time shifting appliances, the emergence of Plug in Hybrid Electric Vehicles(PHEV), including their use as emergency backup or – generator, the synergistic effect PHEV and solar panels on the roof have, on mutually increasing each others appeal to potential buyers.

      With declining grid utilization, there might not be a business case for upgrading the grid in 10 years time.

      I proposed, instead of upgrading the grid, someone knowledgeable might research what would actually happen if the money were invested in energy storage systems and their deployment nationwide, not just in some isolated places.

      Are energy autonomous dwellings the way we build accommodation in the next decade?

      Any views on this would be welcomed.

  14. Claire 7 years ago

    So you want to have the benefit of a grid connection as a back up, but you don’t want to have to pay for it?
    The grid is a huge, hulking, expensive piece of infrastructure. Of course the economics of solar will look attractive if you assume all of the benefits of a grid connection will be available (i.e. continuous, reliable access to electricity when solar isn’t generating or the storage is depleted) with none of the cost. In your scenario who is paying to provide and maintain this service?
    Far from being an industry conspiracy theory, it seems like transitioning to a pricing structure where consumers pay a reflective price for a grid connection is exactly the kind of utility adaptation measure you advocate for.

    • Chris Fraser 7 years ago

      Paying a fair price for fair grid access is a certainty and should be the aim of all consumers. However, I wonder how much that fair price if cities take up a distributed generator model with zeal and rely less on the current central generation model. Looks like PV and batteries could make it happen.

      Consumption would reduce slightly and also be less peaky due to reliance on self for peak supplies. Therefore, design of the grid would change because it wouldn’t be augmented like state governments wanted in the lead up to a quick sale. Maintenance would be required and should attract a fair cost, but this is not in the same league as planning and building for peak loadings that may not come, or come so rarely it’s not worth the outlay.

      The question then is should there be a large fixed component in the cost of connecting to the grid or should the cost be smeared over every kWh consumed. Being efficient and fair would mean a fixed network cost per kWh in addition to the supply of the energy. This motivates consumers to reduce grid consumption. If network operators valued efficiency this would be permitted, but then again i don’t think they are motivated by efficiency.

  15. Alastair Leith 7 years ago

    The Retailers want to get that power from you at a cheap wholesale price and then sell it to the household/business next door to you for, as you say, 2 or 3 times the price. So the only infrastructure is the pole and wire in your street, not the extensive (and costly) HV network and transformer stations that they need to deliver energy sent from base-load generation in La Trobe valley or elsewhere.

    That’s why it’s all a bit rich. They don’t even own the distribution networks but are looking to capitalise on their oligarchic-monopoly access to the network. Furthermore, the network was paid for by us — the public — through state owned utilities historically and the ‘middle tier’ distribution network utility fees passed by retailers.

    As Matthew Wright of BZE said (paraphrasing) it’s like Coles & Woolies offering you a certain price for your home grown veges then making them up 100-200% to sell to your neighbour — and you have to just like it cause your prohibited from selling to your neighbours direct. A law allowing transfer of power through the grid from place A to place B for a certain low-cost reflecting the cost of the grid could be very interesting in this space, effectively opening the market to much broader competition on a micro-scale.

    • Claire 7 years ago

      Alastair, you are a bit off the mark with your numbers. Around half of residential electricity bills are the direct pass through by retailers of the distribution network charges (a regulated monopoly, owned by the state government in most states). So when your neighbour pays 2 or 3 times your FiT value, around half of their charges will go to the distribution network, not to the retailer.

      • jazz 7 years ago

        Further to this, about 40% goes to the generator, which the retailer may or may not own.

  16. Alastair Leith 7 years ago

    Imagine if our access to the energy distribution grid was similar to internet access. I could generate in one location and ‘transfer’ that generation any other locations in my state. I might choose to transfer it to my EV parked at some place of work, or sell it to my community energy co-op for sharing or sell it to AGL for next to nothing. My access to the Grid would be much like the cloud in that I pay an access fee entitling me to certain a level of upload and download of power and energy. (c.f. speed and data limit in the interwebs analogy)

    I guess the vertically integrated generator/retailers like AGL would be resisting this with all their might. I realise the engineering of such a scheme is non-trivial but then the engineering of the internet wasn’t child’s play either, especially before it was broadly available outside a few Unis and Govt labs.

    • Beat Odermatt 7 years ago

      Yes, what a brilliant idea! If I have no power, I can buy it in. I can decide to buy either at the best price or I can buy “the greenest” and closest power. Such a system would discriminate against wasteful long distance power grids and would foster more innovation. We are spending now about 50Billion Dollars for an NBN, but the current power grid does already exists. We all could get hooked into a fair, environmentally responsible and effective electricity generation system. Existing power companies would still exist, but would be like an ISP, providing a service. The current high cost contract system must be overhauled.

      • Louise 7 years ago

        I would also be in favour of creating an Electricity Internet that allows everyone to upload or download electricity.

  17. Beat Odermatt 7 years ago

    Power losses caused by our current high voltage transmission system are a large part of Australia’s contribution towards global warming. Effective de-centralisation and the use of alternative micro-generation allows to lower such waste. In Germany, the Government of North Rhine-Westphalia is now supporting installations of Ceramic Fuel Cells. The challenges are to go forwards and use innovation to create a cleaner and more efficient energy system. The current system is outdated and was created to cater for large centralised power generation.

  18. Miles Harding 7 years ago

    Intergrated solar, wind, mainsCharger and battery systems offer a lot of potential for both time shifting, grid buffering and complete grid independence. It is a matter of scale for the components.

    Currently, I get the impression that the state governments and retailers are a long way from seeing the potential for distributed storage to make grids work better.

    The miserable feed in tariffs being offered in many areas (WA!) only serve to encourage consumers to investigate battery and off-grid applications to avoid the inequitable arrangements (market rigging?) offered by the electricity supply cartels.

    Some product reality-checks are in order:

    a) BlueGen – not in my back yard
    This converts natural gas to electricity in a ceramic fuel cell. The Blue gen unit is approximately 50% efficient at converting gas to electricity and has a peak power of approx. 1.5kw.
    The product is expensive to purchase at $30,000 and there are gas and fuel cell maintenance costs to consider.

    With gas prices at about $0.10 and FITs in the order of $0.08 it will be a tough sell to convince any consumers that this is a good idea.

    Q. How much PV will $30,000 buy? Answer: About 15KW – more than can be installed! and no on-going gas/maintenance costs.
    A 5KW PV system will generate about 8,000KWH per year.

    A consumer would be a long way in front with some batteries and conversion electronics added to PV.

    b)Ecoult (CSIRO untra battery)
    This is the wrong product for purposes of domestic peak lopping. The capacitor is there to bridge the poor performance of PbSO4 batteries in the 1 to 5 second impulse range. This (lead-acid)chemistry has poor (dismal) performance in cyclic discharge applications and requires a lot of reserve capacity to ensure that the daily depth of discharge (DOD) stays below 30% or the battery life will be severely compromised to less than 500 cycles, or 18 months.
    Also these will be expensive.

    Lithium Iron Phosphate (LiFePo) batteries are a much better bet for this application, they allow depths of discharge up to 70% without compromising the battery life severely and have operating lives in excess of 7 years. The cost is LiFePo batteries are approximately $500AUD/Kwh retail today.

    With the greater DOD, a LiFePo can be smaller, making it cheaper than many PbSO4 battery systems.

    For an off-grid PV application, the battery has to be large enough for sustain the load for several days of bad weather, typically 3 or 4 days.

    • Miles Harding 7 years ago


      What to do with your EV battery when it becomes too tired to propel the EV??
      Why not use it to buffer your 5KW PV of panels that ran the house and charged the EV?

      The battery performance needed in a domestic power supply is much less demanding than in an EV, to the ex-EV battery should be able to supply the house needs for several more years.

      PS I like Beat Odermatts’s thinking on a fair and equitable electricity distribution system where consumers have power and influence.

    • Louise 7 years ago

      “Currently, I get the impression that the state governments and retailers are a long way from seeing the potential for distributed storage to make grids work better.”

      I seems to me that they do everything in their power to prevent just that.

    • Beat Odermatt 7 years ago

      The installation of BlueGen Fuel Cells is something not too many of us could afford at the moment. The fuel efficiency is actually far higher than centralised power stations, as the power is used within 500 metres of generation and does not have to be transported over hundreds of kilometres. The “waste” heat can also be used for hot water or space heating. If you own a company such as Origin Energy, Ceramic Fuel Cells could help itself to become “future proofed”. If a company is producing gas and electricity, it would have the opportunity to sell gas and electricity using is own micro-power-stations. If we look at the long lead times and massive costs of building new centralised power stations, distributions lines, transformers etc., such a solution could already to be economical.

      • Miles Harding 7 years ago

        BlueGen fuel cell generators make sense in cold climates where the waste heat can be used, but in Australia the situation is far less helpful the their cause.

        The installation cost is very high and the cost of consumables is likely to be impressive. I think that the fuel cell stack is about $10,000 and need to be replaced every 3 years.

        Utilities can make economic use of gas (turbine) generators because the don’t run them until peaks drive the merit order price high, anywhere up to $10 per kwh, at which time the gas generator is profitable.
        The consumer situation where the feed-in tariff is less than the gas cost makes no sense. Maybe in the mid-west USA where there is a gas glut, one could be used, except that gas fired electricity is cheap.

        Probably in Australia, high COP air conditioners would be more effective than waste heat. (COP = Coefficient of performance = heat power / electric power) Typical AC units have a COP of about 3, and there are units on the market that claim up to 5.7 – a good candidate for solar PV air conditioning.

    • Howard Patrick 7 years ago

      Thanks for the information regarding the shortcomings of the Ultrabattery for storage.

      What are the propsepcts of the “water/salt” battery that Murdoch university researchers are working on. It seems to be like the battery from Aquion?

      • Miles Harding 7 years ago

        Hi Patrick,

        The battery uses a Manganese Dioxide cathode with Sodium Phosphate Anode. They are talking about performance similar to Lead Acid, which is no issue for stationary power systems (SPS).

        Phosphorous competes with agriculture, so the long term supply may be an issue.

        So far I don’t know how durable the battery is or how efficient or costly it is likely to be.

      • Miles Harding 7 years ago

        Aquion Energy is definitely in a good space. The press I saw indicates cost about the same as Lead Acid, but 10 times the durability.

        Apparently, they are about to start large scale production, so it should be interesting.

        • Louise 7 years ago


          I stumbled upon the information below and was wondering what you think of the EOS zinc air battery?

          Powering the Dawn of Energy Storage

          Eos Energy Storage Webinar, Power Generation & Distribution Equipment

          “70kWh battery pack could cost over $12,000.”

          The link below seems to lead a different company, though the battery seems to be very similar, if not the same.

          “…The affordable nature of the batteries means that a 70kWh battery pack could cost over $11,000 and could propel a car to up to 300 miles.”

          EOS Energy’s 160kWh zinc air battery could end range anxiety

          “The major drawbacks with electric cars are their reduced operating range, high charging times and above all high cost. UK-based EOS Energy is planning to end all that with a 160kWh zinc air battery that could hit markets as soon as next year. The company has secured a lot of funding in the past few months, which would be used in developing this battery, which if used in vehicles will mean an electric car with a range in excess of 340 miles.”

    • Ron Barnes 7 years ago

      My 30 pannel 5.5kw Solar, German made Fonius IG40 unit contact at { } does have a continuning cost to run it failed on the average of 5 times over a 5 year period Not good for a system that cost $50,600, after this time Im expected to buy a new one it makes any excess electricty worthless on the on going cost, they must be listed in your Home Insurance to Get Fusion coverage and hale damage.
      It will be out of warranty on the 19/09/2013.
      It has failed again now and there is a debate of whether it will be replaced or not.
      Last time it was repaired, I lost $1200 for it being out of service tor 3mths.
      Battery backup would not help in this situation even though I would recomend it.
      Its time the manufacturer admitted their is a problem with this model and replaced the lot with something proved to be more reliable as obviously something is radicaly wrong with the design.
      So any body out their with this problem contact their supplier and tell that with this amount of failures they should give an extra 5 years waranty and a new different inverter out of good faith in their products.

      • Louise 7 years ago


        It sounds like you are stuck with a lemon.

        I bought the cheapest 5kW system I could find, had it installed in 2007 and had never had a single repair or maintenance work carried out. The system produces a little bit more than I use on an annual basis.

        • Ron Barnes 7 years ago

          Louise What Brand is yours.
          I know my Inverter is a lemon Its a Fonius IG40 5.5 kwts German made. Once when it blew up a repairer opened the cover and photographed the damage.
          What I saw it could have been designed better. The fan inside of it for cooling purposes was as good as useless too small to dispence heat.
          The actual fan Size is 5cms not big enough for the job it would even be to small for a computer cpu, which uses much lower voltage ie 12 volts on motherboard.
          A kid could have done a better job designing its cooling.

          • Louise 7 years ago

            My solar panels are “CEEG”

          • Ron Barnes 7 years ago

            Thank you.
            Guess what! The Firm Newcastle Solar, that sold me my solar unit is going to give me a new, different brand one for free with a full five years warenty . They are doing it because I have had a lot of problems with mine and it is better for them to replace with a more efficent one in good faith.
            I thank them Sincerly and Rasburies to the German Manufacturer : CONERGY : the name even sounds sus.

          • Louise 7 years ago

            My solar inverters are 2 x “Latronics”

        • Ron Barnes 7 years ago

          My unit was fitted on 19/09/2008
          only a year older than yours.

          • Ron Barnes 7 years ago

            P.s, I should have said a year newer than yours.

  19. Craig Allen 7 years ago

    Is there a possibility of community/crowd funded storage bulk storage solutions wherein PV owners could collectively invest in a storage facility for their electricity? It would be akin to a cooperative power company. If the collective manages to generate more than it uses, then it could even sell to non generating members. A network of such set ups could service entire regions.

    • David 7 years ago

      Yes, and if we extended it nation wide and included an open access market for the electricity we could even give it a funky name. I suggest “National Electricity Market”.

  20. Ron Barnes 7 years ago

    Be great Idear for the private sector with out state or other goverments involved.

  21. Louise 7 years ago

    How to electrify transport and dramatically reduce Australia’s fossil fuel consumption for transport with technology that exists today?

    1) Install dynamic wireless electricity transmitters into the National Highway road system, a graphic is shown in the linked wikipedia page below.

    2) Utilize Electric Hybrid vehicles which have a range of 30 to 120 km per charge, depending on manufacturer. Charge the vehicle wirelessly over night and drive around town on that charge. Buy a vehicle with sufficient electric range to cover the daily driving routine.

    3) For interstate travel, drive on electric charge from the city or suburbs onto the National Highway road system, where the vehicle then could travel along the entire National Highway road system if the road had wireless technology installed. Not only could you drive a vehicle on 100% electric power while on the National Highway road system, but you could at the same time replenish the battery.

    4) The National Highway road system would not need an additional gold plated electricity grid, next to the road, in order to supply the electricity for the dynamic inductive electricity supply. The road could produce required electricity as described below:

  22. Louise 7 years ago

    Stanford University
    Wireless car charging (not while you wait, but while you drive. Drive on 100% electric energy while recharging your depleted battery at the same time.

    Wireless vehicle charging while driving

    The future of electric car charging is dynamic wireless charging which is capable of charging stationary cars as well as moving cars. There is no need to wait for this technology to arrive, the technology is here today.
    Bombardier PRIMOVE Technology Powers Wireless Urban Transport

    PRIMOVE e-Mobility Solution — Unlimited electric mobility for buses and cars
    Bombardier participates in the Flanders’ DRIVE research project for the inductive charging of electric vehicles. A public road in Lommel, Belgium, and a Van Hool bus have been equipped with PRIMOVE technology. Tests using a Volvo C30 car starts later this year.
    Bombardier’s PrimoveCity* is a groundbreaking, zero-emissions, e-mobility solution that addresses the range and recharging constraints of electric vehicles. Based on Bombardier’s PRIMOVE* technology, PRIMOVE is the only system that charges electric vehicles at very high levels of efficiency while they are in motion and at rest. It uses wireless energy induction to charge any vehicle, including trams, buses, trucks, taxis and cars.

    PRIMOVE: Game-changing turnkey solution for tram systems
    The innovative PRIMOVE technology from Bombardier is the only solution that allows trams and light rail vehicles to operate over distances of varying lengths without conventional overhead wires. Based on safe inductive power transfer with electric supply components hidden under the vehicle and beneath the track, the fascinating system sets new standards in electric mobility and is now ready to be integrated in tram and light rail systems calling for catenary-free operation.

    PRIMOVE: Change the way to charge

    Smart Transport Solutions – New, extended Version

    Source: Qualcomm Halo

    Plugless Power Vehicle Integration

    Siemens – Electric car Inductive wireless Charging

    SEW-Eurodrive’s inductive charging

    Inductive Wireless Charging Mat for Nissan Leaf Electric Car

    Audi working with WiTricity on fully automatic wireless charging

    Delphi / WiTricity Wireless Electric Vehicle Charging

    Electric Vehicle Cable Free Charging

    Conductix-Wampfler – Plug-in and inductive wireless battery charging

    Wirelessly Powered Tesla Car

    VIA Motors Self-Charging Extended-Range Electric Truck

    Helectra -inductive charging car

    Qualcomm – Wireless inductive charging
    Robert Llewellyn discovers inductive charging technology at a Qualcomm press event.

  23. Diego Matter 7 years ago

    Why isn’t Kevin Rudd talking about Global Warming and what has to be done?

    Hey guys, you all missed the important part of this article. What do you think it is?

    Well, look at the graph. This household is using more than 0.4kW power all the time, it could be called standby? And it’s a typical house.

    0.4kW * 24 hours a day =9.6kWh/day!!! times 0.29cents/kWh = A$2.8 per day or A$1016 per year!!!

    9.6kWh/day is what we use in our house with pool and two inhabitants! So I would call the house who’s graph is presented a very wasteful house.

    At night the house in the example uses 0.4kW at 4am – we use 0.014kW or 14W. And that’s 28.5 times less for eight hours of sleep. Everything is turned off at night. How do we achieve this? Read on.

    From 6am to 4pm they use 0.2kW more, that’s 10 hours x 0.2kW = 2kWh for – you guessed it – a lot of standby and some use of electricity. That’s another A$211 per year.

    And that brings me to the fact that every house should have a “WHOLE HOUSE ENERGY METER” with a display visible for everyone in the house. I strongly suspect that the household in the example isn’t aware of the waste that is going on.

    Multiply that with millions of homes in Australia. Do you get the picture? Do you get what could be easily done to curb Australia’s CO2 emissions? The remaining electricity use is peanuts for a PV system – it would have a size of 1.5kWp to 2.5kWp.

    And that brings me to the new study of the Postsdam Institute which tells us that every degree of temperature rise will mean a sea level rise of 2.3 meters – two point three meters! The temperature rise because of global warming, i.e. the family in the house burning coal for their unnecessary standby, is now at 0.5 degrees Celsius, so we should expect a sea level rise of at least 1.15 meters. But every scientist and politician agrees that we can’t stop global warming at 2 degrees Celsius, so we will have at least 4.6 meters and more of sea level rise in the future (1.15 meters if you think that a quarter of that is plenty…).

    Now look at all the coastal areas in Australia and the expensive infrastructure and ask yourself, what should we have changed 20 years ago?

    Or ask yourself what will you change starting from tomorrow for you and your children. Thanks a lot!

  24. Steve 5 years ago

    I am aware of a number of households using an energy monitor (eg ) to see when they are exporting, then switching on discretionary appliances such as dishwashers, pool pumps. Some are even attempting to use the energy to heat hot water… surely it’s only a matter of time before someone automates this.

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