Storage as “second revolution” driving interest in Australian renewables | RenewEconomy

Storage as “second revolution” driving interest in Australian renewables

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Germany’s BayWa becomes latest to tap demand for battery storage in Australian solar market.

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GTM Research predicts the energy storage market in Germany to grow 11-fold to an annual value of $1.03 billion by 2021. Solarpraxis/Andreas Schlegel
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GTM Research predicts the energy storage market in Germany to grow 11-fold to an annual value of $1.03 billion by 2021. Solarpraxis/Andreas Schlegel

The fast emerging distributed battery storage market in Australia is attracting international players, with Germany’s BayWa renewable energy (r.e.) the latest to step in.

Speaking to RenewEconomy on the back of its acquisition of Perth-based solar and storage distributor and developer Solarmatrix, BayWa r.e. managing director Günter Haug said that battery storage represented a “second revolution” in renewable energy provision in the country.

BayWa r.e. announced that it had struck a deal to acquire Solarmatrix last Friday, with the Perth company set to become BayWa r.e. on the deal’s closure in the coming weeks.

The rebadged company will retain its management team, including managing director Dumus Yildiz who spoke of the importance in ensuring quality battery systems are installed in Australian homes, given the inherent dangers in electro chemical storage.

“This is coming from someone who has been selling batteries for 16 years,” Yildiz told RenewEconomy. “Even when only dealing with lead-acid batteries, education is a key element for the industry, not to put fear into our clients’ heads and take that message to their clients, but it really is a serious issue that people should think twice about what they are buying, and it is our role to train them and take the message out [into the market].”

In a pattern that has emerged in the past two years in an established solar market like Germany, BayWa r.e. are clearly looking for opportunities from the battery storage segment. While ever falling solar prices and fierce competition results in squeezed margins for installers and wholesalers, battery storage is proving a valuable additional revenue stream. Retrofitting existing PV arrays is also proving to be an encouraging market.

“There is high irradiation, good irradiation throughout the year [in Australia], so it makes sense to add battery storage allowing a high percentage of electricity demand to be covered by PV – this applies to domestic homes and also industrial customers,” said BayWa r.e. managing director Günter Haug. “We believe the Australian market will be a very dynamic one, driven by storage and we believe it is now the right time to enter.”

BayWa r.e. currently supplies battery systems from LG Chem, which is understood to enjoy large market share in Australia at present, Tesla Energy and new entrant Mercedes Benz’s storage products.

BayWa r.e. is backed by publically listed agricultural and industrial giant BayWa AG and Haug noted that the company had carried out an analysis of a number of markets before deciding on Australia as the latest step in its international expansion. The company recently expanded through acquisition into the European Benelux markets.

“There is always the question, whether to make or to buy,” said Haug. “Make would have been taking a person and to build up a new company in Australia. We chose the path to acquire the Solarmatrix team,” explained Haug. “A good basis for the future growing business, is the very good technical expertise of Solarmatrix, which allows us to do not only grid connected systems but also fuel saving and standalone systems.”

The existing German connection, with Solarmatrix’s Yildiz hailing from the country, was also a factor. However, notes Haug, “that was not a condition, but helpful.”

BayWa r.e. hopes for Solarmatrix to use the backing of its German parent to grow to become a national player in the Australian solar market. Haug added that BayWa r.e.’s large scale project team, ostensibly for PV power plants larger than 5 MW, are already looking closely at the Australian market and will be potentially collaborating with Yidilz and his Perth-based operation.

 

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4 Comments
  1. Kenshō 4 years ago

    Well I’m personally interested in seeing storage solutions in a cabinet with a door so components can be easily accessed, fault finded, individual components like monitors or BMS replaced when needed, including batteries being able to be replaced as needed. I tend to think an upright cabinet like a fridge is good for storing in a corner, as most Australians are probably accustomed to a second fridge in a garage anyway. I think Tesla’s plastic fantastic throwaway blob needing a forklift to install is sheer craziness. I’ve seen LG Chem. Looks like a nice little cabinet. I think I saw the Mercedes Benz offering, if its the one I’m thinking of looked like a nice upright cabinet with proper modular architecture though expensive. I imagine someone will eventually make a sane modular upright cabinet when everyone gets over Powerwall fever and remember the wall space might run out when EV’s arrive. Slide in battery modules seem so more sane, like the old Telco batteries or UPS. Best wishes in creating something practical and easy for a technician to service. I weigh 60kg and I’d like no component heavier than me. thanks.

  2. Kenshō 4 years ago

    BTW I object slightly to the idea that RE/storage is a “second revolution” in renewable energy provision. A grid-connect inverter is not a first revolution as it is merely a sidekick to a fossil fuel generator, unable to stand on its own feet, codependent and if the grid falls over, so does it. That’s not a new paradigm. It’s merely renewable energy that functions when a grid is.
    So the new paradigm is RE/storage. The beginning of RE/storage is an inverter/charger than can generate is own consistent sine wave and generate power regardless of what a grid is doing, though cooperate with a grid if the terms are reasonable. I think the prime characteristic of the new paradigm is an inverter/charger that connects to a grid when advantageous and can say no thanks at the times of the day that rates or demand charges are disadvantageous. Choice is the new paradigm. Since few of us have the money for an oil field or to dig up coal, the new paradigm necessary involves RE/storage and brings new business models and new money to replace old money. RE/storage is the first real choice humanity gets in harvesting natures forces to make energy. Therefore the company who makes money will be that company who truly gives us our freedom by giving us reasonably humanitarian products. Best wishes in being sincere. I’m sure you’ll profit if your genuine.

  3. Kenshō 4 years ago

    Two current issues in the field: Installation and Engineering:

    Can we please be honest with people, that although a battery system may be capable of external installation that it is likely to deteriorate faster. It might make the product not last its warrantee or last one day after its warrantee with a catastrophic failure. This manufacturer is honest:

    “A high average working temperature results in accelerated aging because the rate of the chemical decomposition process in the battery increases with temperature. A battery manufacturer generally specifies service life at 20°C ambient temperature. The service life of a battery halves for every 10°C of rise in temperature.” page 18:

    https://www.victronenergy.com/upload/documents/Book-Energy-Unlimited-EN.pdf

    My second concern is more an engineering one. My current inverter/charger can charge two battery banks, though the provision of a second battery is only a 4A charger for a cranking battery in the event of a mobile install. For houses people may find they have under estimated the battery size needed or wish to add an EV inside the next 10 years. This is going to produce a problem, as usually the installation of a new battery results in it going out in sympathy with the old one. Is there a way this problem can be overcome?

  4. Kenshō 4 years ago

    Another issue in the field involving ethics or sensibility is not setting up shop and retailing one specific brand or type of system. On another article on this website, an installer put in six Powerwalls, using up ridiculous amounts of wall space with screw holes, conduit and wire everywhere. It’s the worst install I’ve ever seen in terms of the customer getting the wrong equipment not suiting their application and site. The wall space is now useless unless the customer starts stacking gear against the Powerwalls. The customer should have been given a cabinet standing in a corner which would have done the job in less than a meter by meter of floor area. Installers should be prepared to train in enough systems to reasonably accomodate different site needs. Installers need at least try to lead the customer in sensibility.

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