Incumbent utilities and battery storage: They still don't get it | RenewEconomy

Incumbent utilities and battery storage: They still don’t get it

Morgan Stanley says Australian energy market is still under-estimating the impact of battery storage. While some retailers and networks have been downplaying storage, Morgan Stanley is increasing its target to 3 million homes by 2035, up from 2.4 million.


Morgan Stanley, the investment bank that predicts one million Australian households will adopt battery storage over the next four years, says the broader energy market in Australia still underestimates what’s about to hit them.

The comments come in a brief appraisal of the main factors weighing on the Australian energy market and the incumbent coal-fired generators, the big networks and retailers.

solar_storage_battery_620x448_310_224Many of these companies have sought to downplay the prospect of battery storage in recent weeks and months, telling investors and conference gatherings that battery storage is still “un-economic” and that installation rates will be slower than thought.

The flip side of that argument is that Australian households already have a powerful incentive to install battery storage – given high electricity costs, abundant sunshine and high rates of rooftop solar installation, and it is likely that many households don’t much care whether battery storage systems pay back their investment in 5 years, 10 years or 15 years. They simply want the product.

“We think the market continues to underestimate the potential for household battery uptake and the resultant reduction in demand for grid electricity,” the Morgan Stanley analysts said in a report last week.

Certainly, that is the view of many major battery storage developers. Tesla has chosen Australia as its primary market, and has already launched its produce. Enphase has chosen to release its battery storage product in Australia in late June/early July. LG Chem today announced plans to fast-track development in storage in Australia, a market it says will grow five-fold this year alone. Australia’s Redflow will launch its battery storage product next week.

Morgan Stanley says battery storage will play a vital role in what it  calls the “New Economic Infrastructure”,  and will be one of five key structural themes for an analysis on the Australian economy in Transition, in what it describes as the “renewable energy revolution.”

“Australia has a world-leading solar resource, and one of the highest per capita solar installation rates in the developed world,” the Morgan Stanley analysts says in the report. “Pairing Australian rooftop solar with household battery storage could further disrupt the traditional grid electricity supply model.”

It notes that Australia already has more than 1.4 million homes (15 per cent of the total) with rooftop solar and will extend this “leadership” by adopting new battery technology and pioneering distributed generation technologies.

It says regulation will need to move quickly and collaboratively to establish the right incentives, but may be over-run by the pace of change.

“The preconditions are in place with a highly urbanised, high-income society facing some of the highest electricity costs in the world,” it says.

“To date, the accelerated take-up of household solar has been a result of generous feed-in tariffs. Proposed reforms to electricity tariff structures will need to shift incentives towards more efficient system utilisation, and while economics for new adopters may be impacted in the short term, we expect the trend of sharply-falling solar PV costs will ensure industry growth.

“Cost-effective battery storage will be the game-changer, perhaps even independent of regulatory reform.”

Morgan Stanley is standing by its forecast from last May that 40 per cent of households may take-up battery storage by 2035. Indeed, it now believes that the take up rate – originally put at 2.4 million households  by 2035, could exceed 3 million by the same date, although it  says tariff and incentive reform will be key.

This accords with the broader view in the industry. Battery storage developers – such as Enphase – predict that storage costs will fall by half by 2020. Tesla suggests they may fall further.

But regulators have been batting the ball down the road, refusing in some cases to even consider battery storage as a network or system pricing issue due to a “lack of information”. Many believe regulators will be run over in the rush, along with incumbent generators and networks that are not quick enough to react.

Morgan Stanley says there are clear benefits for the overall electricity system from battery storage, but they are a threat for generators.

“Once at critical mass, distributed battery storage can reduce peak grid demand, which means less network investment will be required, lowering long-run (transmission and distribution) costs through greater system efficiency.

“The impact on the major listed generators is less clear, with demand for stationary generation likely to fall, potentially leaving assets stranded and lowering pool prices. Potential offsets include new product marketing or inter-household electricity brokerage revenues.”

That points to the fact that the battery storage revolution is not just about hardware, but business models enabled by smart software that will allow trading with the market, and trading with other households.

In effect, creating an “internet” of millions of independent producers and consumers, and snatching the power, quite literally and figuratively, away from the old model of centralised generation and vast networks.


Print Friendly, PDF & Email

  1. Tim Forcey 5 years ago

    I attended a gas industry conference recently where a gas distributor mentioned that hundreds of customers had disconnected from their part of the gas grid. Those “early-leavers” or “gas-cord cutters” will have greater incentive to stay connected to the other grid now – the electricity grid.

    • Chris Fraser 5 years ago

      The increase in gas grid prices probably accounts for many leaving. Surely they must have known that efficient electric appliances would be most attractive to the former gas customers ?

      • Mike Dill 5 years ago

        I have been looking at the new electric heat exchange units to heat the house and the hot water. I have also found a new high efficiency electric clothes dryer. No need for gas anymore.

        • Geoff 5 years ago

          Run by batteries of course……….

          • Mike Dill 5 years ago

            All of this will run when the electrons are available. That means running the loads when the sun is shining, and using the electricity directly. No need to run most of that from batteries.

        • Chris Fraser 5 years ago

          Electric does almost anything you can ask for.It’s a surprise that a Queensland customer once became irritated with outages caused by industrial problems at SEQEB in the 1980s, and converted his home’s wall lights to gas. Probably not the most efficient lighting we could have hoped for.He must have been quite pleased gas lighting could take ten years off his apparent age.

        • neroden 5 years ago

          I’m kind of traditionalist in that I really like having a gas stove. I consider this a luxury expense.

          This is a very-low-usage application; if the gas grid shuts down, I’ll get propane (and probably use one small tank every *year*).

          • Mike Dill 5 years ago

            I felt the same way until I got an Induction unit. Heats as fast as gas, and has just as much control. The best part for me is that the clean-up is just wiping down a flat surface.

          • neroden 5 years ago

            The induction units require all-iron cookware. Sorry, I’m not replacing all my pots and pans; I like my lightweight aluminum.

          • Mike Dill 5 years ago

            Induction units require a ferrous metal disk on the bottom to transfer the energy. I have a few pans that are Al with about 200g of metal added on the bottom. There are also metal spacers that can do the job, but they get hot, and then transfer the heat to the pan.
            In the USA at Amazon:

    • solarguy 5 years ago

      You know Tim it’s amazing that someone has to be connected to town gas for a while before they realize it has to be binned. And there are those who believe gas is cheap, but bitch about high prices and stay connected. Further, my wife works for a building company and a lot of customers ask for a gas connection. Are they insane, stupid or just ill informed. Certainly the gas industry has always told them gas is clean and cheap, but it also goes down to the project home industry, not knowing any better either.
      The point you made about incentive to stay connected to the power grid, is a valid point, as I have always said we need the grid for lots of reasons, but there is also strong incentive to jump ship, isn’t there!

      • Cooma Doug 5 years ago

        It is reasonable to assume if we have the situation as predicted, the grid, as we see it now will disappear. Before you start thinking I am nuts think a little more.
        If all those technologies are adopted and optimised and intergrated with the transport industry, we will not have poles and wires to the home. The business model will not exist for such an outdated concept.

        With high density living and modern efficient designs, in addition to a price put on pollution, renewable dispersed load located energy will not need the ugly things.

        • solarguy 5 years ago

          Well no Doug I don’t think your nuts. Think of this though the grid will be needed to get that excess solar around from house to house. Factories that operate 24/7 won’t be able to afford that much PV and storage. Big cities will need big solar and wind to power them and you can’t distribute power without poles and wires.
          Say, you have a trucking business and your travelling from Melbourne to Brisbane and your fleet is electric. The range with a full load is say 500km, it will have to be charged somewhere and take a lot of RE juice. that power will have to come from the grid. How do you think the power will get to the charging stations that will cater for all the trucks, buses, trains and cars sucking up multi Mega watts. Certainly not from local homes.
          I could give more examples, but that’s enough for now.

          • Cooma Doug 5 years ago

            There is a town between Vegus and LA. It will have large scale solar and wind and be off grid.

            The main infrastructure of the major cbds will have a grid connection to large renewable energy of course. However the wires to the home will not be needed with home battery and cars. Sure we can share with neighbour over the fence but that will look rather silly when you have electric car and battery.
            Major high density unit blocks can have connection to the infrastructure but in places like Canberra where there are high number of cars per capita the alternatives are many

          • solarguy 5 years ago

            You stated wires to the home won’t be needed with home battery. Tell me Doug, what do think the average Ozzie family home consumes per day, even being energy efficient going forward?

          • Cooma Doug 5 years ago

            I have a friend who lives with wife retired in a large, pre 1990 < 3 thermal rating home in a temperate climate range. Their bill was enormous and he blamed the carbon tax.
            I went through the house and cut their bill 60%.
            They now use about 12 kwh day. If we bring this into a family of 4 situation, sure they may use double. But in house of thermal rating 7+ and efficiency across the board, the per capita use is much lower then the 6.5 per day.
            My friend in California working on the latest technologies suggests the car will be able to deliver the daily use in several methods depending on the home design and energy management plan.

          • david H 5 years ago

            And how does that work if ou have a week or two of wet,cloudy and cold weather??
            It would be good to see some hard facts around this issue.

          • Cooma Doug 5 years ago

            Your car is the poles and wires. The car computer is also the energy management computer. It has your travel plan. It has your energy use profile and also the adjoining residences if in a complex.
            It also has the detailed weather forecast and will ask you verbally each day about changes to plans….while it is driving you places.
            In co ordination with your neighbour, the solar if you have it and your home battery and your second car if you gave one. Indeed if the worst thing happens your car can go to the infrastructure centre as you sleep and do a quick charge autonomously

          • Geoff 5 years ago

            Will be great to see this product if/when it is invented. All are lovely theories. Do the math.

          • Cooma Doug 5 years ago

            In 1990 I was told that my phone would have more computing space and information available then all of the public service in Australia at that time.
            Now that was optimistic and as it turns out a bit of an under estimate.
            When you think of home energy and efficiency management of 25 years from now, poles and wires down the residential streets are the large main frame computers of the late 1980s.
            Still being talked up as irreplaceable at that time.

            In 20 years time the only thing in your home that will require alternating current will be the poles and wires. You wont be wanting to connect it to your house as there will be no need what do ever. If you have excess power it will leave home in the car.

          • neroden 5 years ago

            It’s gonna take much longer than that to switch home wiring from AC to DC. Luckily inverters and rectifiers are actually quite efficient.

          • Miles Harding 5 years ago

            There are some problems with DC and batteries.

            Low voltage also means high current if any power is to be transmitted, resulting in large (and expensive) wire conductors. Upping the voltage can easily overcome this, but leads to another problem:

            Low voltage, say up to 48volts, switching arcs readily self-entinguish, which isn’t the case at 250VDC where persistent (and very destructive) arcs can form in both normal switching and fault conditions.

            I can see LED room lighting being a good candidate for a DC system, but higher power decices such as pumps, blenders, toasters, ovens, vacuum cleaners, fridges would be hazardous from a suitably high voltage power supply.

            I use a latronics inverter and run all the appliances and lights from 240VAC, despite the battery being 48Volts. The main reasons are compatibility with appliances and the house wiring. Stuff like clock radios and electronic timers generally require continuous AC electricity.

            The Latronics is good because has a large toroidal transformer (the secret sauce in these efficient inverters) and is efficient at producing a stable 240VAC output even when the load is a few watts. Typically, its no load power consumption is about 25 watts, or 600 watt-hours per day which equates to less than one solar panel. The actual cost of this ‘standing AC baseload’ is lower than this because the inverter would have to be running if any lamps or appliances are on, probably ‘costing’ only about 100wh per day for the benefit of continuous AC.

          • wideEyedPupil 5 years ago

            your assuming the car is always there to take the excess generation. get off this obsession can you? and DC wiring is not advantageous except with low powered appliances.

          • Cooma Doug 5 years ago

            In my case I probably wont need the car at all. It wont need to be there all the time in any home.
            Why would the car need to be there all the time.

          • wideEyedPupil 5 years ago

            because you assumption is that it’s doubling as home storage. Might work for a one person household.

          • Cooma Doug 5 years ago

            This is not so. In modern design homes, a residence with 10 adults will use 70% less energy per capita. In high density society this figure gets better the more dense it is and the car is going to do to the poles and wires what the mone did to the country telephone pole. But it will be a much bigger boom to the ecconomy.

          • Cooma Doug 5 years ago

            Take us through the devices of the home that dont have a DC solution.

          • wideEyedPupil 5 years ago

            someone did it for you already, see below. It’s not just the devices, it’s the amount of fat copper rewiring you need to do to handle the current.

          • Cooma Doug 5 years ago

            I have been in the power industry for 45 years. Ohms law isnt the problem. The problem we have as I see it, is that a pole/poles to provide connection to the grid for a small hobby farm near town cost over 100 thousand dollars. That incidentally is one of the minor fiascos that goes with this crazy base load ancient idea.
            I accept that you will not up date an older home to go off grid without considerable incentive. The incentives are rising quickly. For myself, with a thermal rating 7+ and modern devices I pay more then 50 cents a kwh for grid energy because I need very little and the poles and wire costs dwarf equipment updates.

          • solarguy 5 years ago

            Ah yes, top of the class lad. Have a biscuit.

          • neroden 5 years ago

            That’s actually the wrong question, solarguy. Nearly everyone can produce their own energy usage *on average*.

            What wires to the home help with is the *peak usage*. People don’t typically have peak usage simultaneously. If I run my oven at 3PM and my neighbor runs his at 5 PM and my other neighbor runs his at 7 PM, wires can transfer energy back and forth, and they’ll end up being a lot cheaper than having each house oversize batteries for peak load.

          • solarguy 5 years ago

            What question is supposedly wrong? And the latter spiel, what are you modelling that on?

          • Peter Voight 5 years ago

            Solar and load coincidence. ‘Average’ solar calculations not take into account that demand does not coincide with solar input.
            The battery suffers from a similar problem, both when charging, and discharging. If the battery’s charge rate is less than solar power output, the sun may disappear before the battery can store what is available. Few batteries have sufficient charge rate.
            If the solar power output restricts charge rate, the same again.

            Stored capacity is always much less than calculated from averages.

            It may be possible to share stored energy between houses, but few will have much to spare. Even then, to equate with the grid (and power those ovens), household inverters must be much larger than currently used. When that is done, at least 200 nodes are required to keep within a regulated band of 2%.

            Oversizing either solar or battery, costs more than paying for grid energy.

          • solarguy 5 years ago

            Peter, Your inferring things I’ve never said. Don’t do that! Your confused utterings above, are just plain incorrect.
            As an CEC accredited PV system designer, I wouldn’t suggest oversizing storage for a single dwelling, but I would oversize a PV array to the storage capacity. Wonder if you can work out why?

          • Peter Voight 5 years ago

            Oversizing the panels to supply the battery is what I was saying shouldn’t be done, Solarguy. It wastes energy and resources, because the limit is defined by the battery’s charging characteristics, and the overall match to available excess solar energy and power. That is a problem of coincidence, so statistical. Averages are not very useful.

            The most efficient and cost-effective system is small solar (~2.5kWp) and small battery (4 to 5kWh). Many household demands exceed solar output, so pimp the size – but that is not cost-effective, and past the point of best efficiency.

            To extract the most from the smaller solar, the battery should operate throughout the day. Charging when possible, and discharging when there is grid demand. Only if the charge/discharge rate is ~4KW, can the most be extracted and deployed. The total battery throughput is then much greater than its capacity.
            The current crop of home batteries have large capacity, but insufficient charge/discharge rates. In terms of cell cost, high rate is more expensive than capacity. Few cells can provide both, and longevity. The marketable ‘cheap’ $/kWh batteries are less than half the story, and less effective. Cheap capacity encourages the storing-only throughout the day, then ‘evening’ discharge model, which is the least efficient means. Better to improve system efficiency, than to produce excess, shared or not.

            When sharing, a small network of small generators (house-to-house exchange) has the same problem with peak power demand as the grid, so larger inverters are necessary, assuming there is sufficient stored energy. To regulate supply within acceptable limits, a lot of nodes ( inverters) must be working at the same time ~200 nodes for 2% regulation. Distributed storage is a ‘nice idea’ but not really of value.

          • solarguy 5 years ago

            Who are you in your great wisdom to state, oversizing shouldn’t be done. There is no such thing as a one size fits all for any household. As there are variable load profiles of different households a 2.5kwp array would fit some but not others and a 4-5kwh battery the same.
            Secondly, the limit of a given PV array size, isn’t the battery as charging stops when it’s full. The system then keeps supplying loads and any excess will go out to the grid. If that happens to be a micro grid then your neighbour, who could be running some heavy loads can use it or go into a central storage facility, depending on the design.
            Mega oversizing is not what I’m on about here.
            A battery should not be constantly cycled as you propose, as that shortens it’s life and demand from the grid should come from excess PV generation during day light hours, in the main where possible, or take from the grid if the battery is exhausted.
            There are batteries that have a large power output and they should be chosen when a households load profile demands it, when PV can’t generate.
            In ending, larger inverters are not needed above the max demand of the household it was designed for even if the array is oversized! There is a huge gap in your knowledge and I’m not about to give you free education. Find out by doing a course.

          • wideEyedPupil 5 years ago

            Grid access reforms could allow better sharing between communities of excess local/distributed generation, not passing the windfall profit to a corporate whose generally not acting in their interests (in billing or in climate terms). That would increase the value of grids to domestic customers and small businesses several fold.

          • solarguy 5 years ago

            If the regulator allowed a better FIT for solar and excess storage, ROI would be quicker. After all peak demand can be quite expensive, the utilities would still make a good profit. Better to pay us 20c/kwh than peaking plants $1 or more per kwh.

          • Peter Voight 5 years ago

            Exactly. The large battery will not fit most situations. Beyond 2.5KWp solar/ 4 to 5kW battery, return is reduced. Increased solar and battery size add more cost than is gained. The same home battery is being sold regardless of application. It won’t fit many at all, if only because it lacks the capacity to adapt, by operating in real time, rather than to store, and later dump.

            Battery throughput can be increased at least 3 times capacity, by the use of algorithms that can learn patterns, and predict from ealier data. High discharge batteries, managed that way, can be used to exceed the power output of solar, and eliminate grid demand as it occurs.
            Large battery capacity *suggests* more income, but costs are increased beyond gain. That’s why so many calculations show that the proposed batteries take much longer than the warranty period to payback, if at all. Promised lower cells prices, by dint of volume production, offer only more waste in mining, manufacture and disposal, whereas better batteries can reduce that waste, and dependence upon Cobalt and Nickel, for example.
            Tesla’s batteries do not have adequate charge/discharge rates, nor cycle life to allow for operation throughout the day, so the ‘store it and dump it later’ approach is used to sell technically inadequate batteries. The 10kWh ‘weekly’ battery is a prime example. Capacity retention is warranted at the same 2kW output as the Daily version, though may output 5kW. Battery life is ‘extended’ by limiting use to once a week. What a joke.
            The low announced prices, also lead to additional purchases.

            All attempts at ROI calculations presented in articles and forums, employ the simple ‘capacity x tariff ‘ approach, while simply hoping that income may exceed costs if enough time is allowed, and the battery lasts. The alternative is not presented, nor do article writers, appear to be aware of it.

            Better batteries would reduce system size and waste, and be more efficient, so wouldn’t need to dump much excess as ‘FiT’. In that sense, supposed grid benefits, are a result of the battery’s failure to provide more cost-effective self-consumption.
            The battery doesn’t significantly improve upon solar only, at the household and grid level, but costs a great deal more. System size increases to no particular benefit. Appeals to a ‘united internet of independent users’ is to fall for the other bait.

            To the last remark, Solarguy. Since most batteries are 2kW with some peak output, they are barely adequate even as it stands. Solaredge’s ‘approved’ Powerwall inverter, has a DC Battery input of 3.3kW peak, but ~6kW PV solar input. Not useful, as even a vague grid substitute. .

          • solarguy 5 years ago

            The only thing your correct about is the Tesla hype and the battery performance. The rest, I COULDN’T BE BOTHERED.

          • wideEyedPupil 5 years ago

            getting so sick of this assertion that EVs are the poles and wires of tomorrow. baseless hypothesis.

          • david H 5 years ago

            Solorguy, pleased to see some common sense coming into these discussions. The grid will play a different but vital role in the rapid and efficient advancement of RE.

          • solarguy 5 years ago

            Thanks David and yes it will, it will have to be there. Even in new build housing estates where they have designed a micro grid, there will be wires from house to house.

          • Geoff 5 years ago

            Guys, An electric B Double has not been invented yet. At best a diesel electric truck can work just like the long haul trains.. They use these until they get the opportunity to electrify the line……You guys need to do the energy math. Solar just will not and cannot provide the base load energy needed for all sorts of industry. Melbourne, voted twice The World’s Most Liveable City and Victoria are supplied with cheap and abundant brown coal generated elctricity from the La Trobe Valley. It also supplies electricity to South Australia, Tasmania, ACT and NSW to varying degrees. Do the math. How do you replace that on demand, as required, 24/7 baseload power? Don’t even mention intermittent solar and windmills. It is an engineering impossibility. The nearest solution is a network of nuclear powerstation as per France where more than nuclear provides more than 80% of their electricity. Nil CO2 …..if that is what you want.

          • Carl Raymond S 5 years ago

            Many studies have shown that 100% RE is doable Geoff.
            Just google “100% renewable energy Australia” and start reading.

            An electric bus has driven Melbourne to Sydney on a single charge. Electric trucks with battery swap will be the next big thing, because they will save operators hundreds of thousands on fuel and maintenance.

          • neroden 5 years ago

            The grid’s very nice. What will disappear is the giant megasized transmission lines. House-to-house distribution is quite useful, but requires *much smaller* lines.

      • wideEyedPupil 5 years ago

        I’ve been looking at rooms to let recently in Perth and it’s very common to see “gas HW and heating so bills aren’t too bad” kind of comments. Heat Pumps are not well understood at all.

    • Mike Dill 5 years ago

      The base gas service charge in Nevada right now is about $180/year, plus any gas. Not so much, but with newer heat exchangers to heat the house and the hot water, the value of gas is pretty low. Getting rid of that bill is just another step, with the electric utility not that far behind.

      • Geoff 5 years ago

        Are you guys expecting to heat or cool your homes with solar and batteries. You had better buy 6 of your neighbors houses, demolish their homes and cover the ground with solar panels. Do the math. That will work………

        • solarguy 5 years ago

          Geoff, when did you discover your brain was missing. Now why don’t you be a good little boy, sit down and eat your coal and uncle Tony will get you some nice radioactive oil flavoured contaminated water with LSD sprinkles to wash it down with. Then you can try once again how to blink and breath at the same. And no Geoff, your not a moron, but you might reach up to that level one day, if you can manage to pull your head out of your arse.

          • Rasa 5 years ago

            Very deep contribution Solarguy. Il sure you have it your best. Well done and we are proud of you.

        • Mike Dill 5 years ago

          Geoff, 8kW is less than 50 square meters, and will fit on my roof. That is enough to heat and cool my house 95% of the time, with two days worth of power storage. I do expect to need a standby source electricity for the times that the solar is not enough, but that is a small portion of the year.

  2. Hugo Armstrong 5 years ago

    Interesting to read the next story on RE, about the AusNet Services residential battery trial results, which says batteries are still uneconomic, but this will change – and that the real key is capturing and sharing the network benefits as well as consumer benefits.
    Of course, as Tesla is showing, you can generate a market no matter how uneconomic a product is, as long as you can position it as desirable…

    • david H 5 years ago

      Yep. Technology and the market will determine the future of RE. Politicians will have to get on board or loose their cosy numbers.

  3. Cooma Doug 5 years ago

    Simplicity is the thinking required here.
    The old base load dirt blowers have to go. We all agree.
    We need to step away from the ghosts of the past and imagine the future.

    So just imagine the situation coming right now. Think about this concept and ask the questions that will rise from it.

    “100% renewable load located energy”

    • Mike Dill 5 years ago

      I will have 100% of my household load covered by my PV solar system next year. As storage prices decline, I will be covering the price peaks, and eventually capture all of my production. This is not that far into the future.

      • Geoff 5 years ago

        Mike. Your heating and cooling? How many solar panels are you going to put on your property. Would like to see your expected usage, expected generation and expected amount of energy stored. Also storage capacity of your batteries, type of battery selected and charge rates for those batteries. Capital cost of your equipment, expected life of the system and ROC. Maybe match it to alternative cost of using existing grid power and cost of an alternative stand alone diesel generator. Look forward to the numbers.

        • Mike Dill 5 years ago

          I live in Southern Nevada, where my heating is minimal and my AC runs nine months of the year. In the middle of summer I use less than 40kWh per day. With 8kW for about eight hours of sunlight, I would produce 1.5X what I needed, so I would store the remainder.

          Since we do have cloudy weeks, I would like to have two days of storage, and a backup power source for the weeks when it stays cloudy.
          Currently the 8kW on the roof would be $3.00/watt here, and less than $2.00/watt in Australia ($16k to $24k). The storage is not yet economic, running $0.15/kWh over the life of the battery. It would cost about US$50,000 right now fully installed, which is more than I can afford.

          As prices drop in the future the batteries will start to make economic sense, and at that time I will probably disconnect fro the electric grid if it continues to price itself out of my rational budget.

          • Phil 5 years ago

            Yes heating cooling and cooking along with swimming pool filter pumps are the biggest energy users.

            There are 3 major factors at work here with energy consumption. All should be looked at together as a whole where possible.

            1) Home Design heating and cooling efficiency

            2) Appliance suitability and energy efficiency

            3) On and off grid energy affordability and reliability.

            Here in Australia , where we have similar hot areas to you home insulation and passive solar design cuts the heating and cooling by 50% to 75% minimum.

            Many are using inverter reverse cycle air conditioners with EER / COP of 3-5 so even a normal build 6 star insulated home of 300sqm would struggle to need 15kwh per day for cooling. Obviously double glazing or E glass is needed in most cases.Some are also using heat pumps that work better in extreme heat or cold by sinking or sourcing heat into the soil below

            In the dryer areas with less than 40% humidity most of the year they are using roof mounted evaporative cooling allowing windows and doors to be left open. A significant water source is needed however if you are on tank water to run these. Some of these systems airflows can be reversed allowing cooler night air into the home via the windows.Power consumption is less than 1kw.

            Solar hot water with a Gas booster is a viable hot water option with minimal gas use in most hot areas and no impact on the electrical power apart from the small circulation pump.

            Cooking can be all electric with Induction cooktops and inverter convection microwave ovens being very efficient.
            Many have a hybrid with both a gas and electric cooktops to extend cooking capability with long periods of heavy cloud cover

            There is a trend towards inverter swimming pool pumps and inverter fridges to lower energy consumption by about 50% for those appliances.

            As far as storage the lead acid technology had been affordable for some time and is the mainstay of most battery systems.

            The NSW government in Australia has some good entry level ideas with the BASIX program that is mandatory for all new builds.It’s not perfect , but it’s a good start as far as getting buildings to a minimum energy efficient standard.


          • Mike Dill 5 years ago

            Phil, thanks for the comment. After cooling, my next largest load is the refrigerator and freezer. I have an induction cooking surface that I love, and use the microwave a significant amount if the time. I have not yet started hanging my clothes to dry, but i could probably save a significant amount by taking a simple step like that.

          • Phil 5 years ago

            Mike the newest refrigerators are inverter motor driven. 50% savings apparently an helped by more efficient refrigerants. Similar to what has happened with current tech inverter air conditioners.

            I use induction cooktops when the sun is shining and gas when not. I have to admit the induction cooktops perform as well as gas with loads of power and infinite control .But some cheaper induction cooktops cycle at low power levels rather than pulse width modulate (much like the electric frypans do) so they need thick bottomed pans to smooth the heat on/off cycles out or you can get some hot spots and burnt food.You can even get wok shaped (curved induction plate) high power ones now.

            The tech just gets better and more efficient.

          • neroden 5 years ago

            Electric clothes dryers are generally considered better than gas. Electric ovens are generally considered better than gas. Electric heat-pumps are now price-competitive with gas even in places with cheap gas. Cooktops are different and there are still a few reasons to prefer gas for cooktops, but it’s such a tiny use of gas.

  4. Geoff 5 years ago

    It is curious that an industry that is yet to have a proven product continues to slag the tried and true base load grid. Battery storage and solar panels or even windmills are the oranges of the industry. Baseload grid is the apples. One supplier produces whatever electricity is needed at any particular time day, night, sunny, cloudy, windy or still……. all day every day. The other supplies an intermittent supply based on circumstances at the time and its supply is severely compromised every day between 4pm and 9am the next day. Now we are told this compromised supply is going to be stored in batteries between 9am and 4pm to supply electricity during the non productive 16-18 hours. Lets not even consider the inefficiencies of collecting voltages, conversion to 240 volt and then storing at 12 volt to be used again at 240 volt. Great idea. Looking forward to the implementation……..
    Guys. Forget the “Powerwall” . Elon has been spectacularly unsuccessful at making cars profitably even after huge government subsidies…. and now he is going to manufacture batteries in competition with the established big boys. Lets watch the early takeup suckers.

    • Mike Dill 5 years ago

      Geoff: My solar panels will have paid for themselves in another six years. After that, the power from them will basically be free. No matter what the electric utility supplies, the power from my roof will cost less. To use all of that power, I will need to store some for later. If the cost of storing that power is less than what the electric utility charges, then it just makes sense to do so.
      Yes, the current PowerWall is not economically viable in most places. Yes, keeping the grid power available is a great idea for the sun is not shining. Yes, storing some of the power from my roof is in-efficient.
      But when the cost of doing it myself gets to be less than buying from someone else I sometimes go that route. I also like cooking, even though there are 24 hour restaurants.

      • Peter Voight 5 years ago

        Fine, if you can afford to do so, but many can’t. But, Geoff has a point.
        All claims regarding the influence of batteries are speculative, yet even moderate analysis from an engineering point of view says it’s a waste of resources, and will be less effective than direct to grid during the day.
        It’s worth noting that most authors writing articles on this topic, are not qualified to assess the technical matters, but rely upon general reports from third parties.

        • Mike Dill 5 years ago

          I do agree that putting my excess power on the grid is the best thing I could be doing. My only issue is that my utility does not see any value in doing that. Seeing that the utility is not giving me what I consider fair compensation, and that keeping those electrons and using them myself is nearly cost effective, I see no reason to enrich the utility further.

    • wideEyedPupil 5 years ago

      The Koch brothers send their thanks, Geoff. Run along now darling,

  5. Phil 5 years ago

    There are pro’s and Con’s to battery storage for “on gridders” depending on your home situation and needs.

    Here are a few of MANY scenarios.

    Scenario 1 – If cost is the prime consideration and the whole family work (i.e no one home during the weekdays) Then if you were to reduce your electricity energy use with modern efficient appliances and add a very large solar panel array of say 7-10kw then that offsets your bill considerably , even with a low 6c per kwh contribution. This may be a more cost effective option than load shifting using batteries. Unfortunately the $ exchange rate labour and margins (especially in Australia) push up battery installs and don’t forget you need a battery replacement budget too.

    Scenario 2 – If a family member is home during the day then a normal capacity solar array would be an affordable option as the household gets “first dibs” on the solar power and you can use most of your solar power when the sun is shining. Bigger is better (say as much as 10kw of panels) as the larger solar array offsets your bill at the same time.

    Scenario 3 – You don’t care about price and just want a reliable never fail backup power source with the benefit of load shifting reducing your peak costs. In some markets with smart meters and charges as high as 60c a kwh in peak periods a battery solution comes close to revenue neutral for some users that due their lifestyles see’s them always using energy in the peak periods

    Most importantly these time poor but well off families want reliability and quality of life. They have worked hard all day and don’t want their families to be in the dark when the power goes off in a storm. And they may not ebven be able to go out and eat if the whole area has no power too. Not to mention everyone else having the same idea and you cant get a booking to eat where there is power.

    We are all different and have different priorities . I say good on you anyone who does go for a battery backup solution. The 99.9999% uptime that many of us “off gridders” take for granted may be a revelation to you.

  6. Jane Pullenvale 5 years ago

    It will remain unaffordable for low incomes, fixed incomes, renters etc. for the next decade at least.

    • neroden 5 years ago

      So is everything.

  7. neroden 5 years ago

    Link to the Morgan Stanley report? I’d like to know which analyst wrote it.

  8. Paul Parker 5 years ago

    Main goal for rural&remote consumers is to keep the lights and computers running when the power lines drop out…


  9. wideEyedPupil 5 years ago

    Given the trend for solar modules to be effectively free by 2035, likely seeing PV applied to external building cladding products for a very low marginal cost in transparent coatings, every Australian home that sees sunshine is going to want a little storage.

Comments are closed.

Get up to 3 quotes from pre-vetted solar (and battery) installers.