The graph that shows the death of traditional energy utilities | RenewEconomy

The graph that shows the death of traditional energy utilities

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Mojo Power says combination of solar and storage means that current energy utility business models cannot survive, because power stations will be “blown into a thousand fragments” and fuel will be effectively free.

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At RenewEconomy’s Energy Disruption conference in Sydney this week there were lots of talk, lots of slides, lots of ideas about the future of the country’s energy system. It’s quite clear, as AGL Energy boss Andy Vesey admitted, that nothing will stay the same. “We are either going to be the disruptor, or the disrupted,” he said.

Chances are, Vesey will need to disrupt because it is inevitable he will be disrupted. They key question that corporate leaders like Vesey have to ask is how quickly and how dramatically that change can occur. The big utilities want and need more time to change their business models. It’s not entirely clear they are going to get it.

The big swing factor is battery storage, and how quickly that becomes attractive to the mass market and how quickly the installation of a million and more systems changes the nature of the current energy system.

This slide, from Mojo Power’s James Myatt, was one of the killer slide. That’s how he described it. It shows, according to Myatt, why the current electricity retailer model cannot exist in the future, because solar and battery storage will largely replace electricity sources from centralised power, and their traditional sources of profit.

Screen Shot 2016-09-02 at 8.04.09 AMMyatt sees a future where the “fuel” is effectively free, and consumers – most equipped with solar and storage – are charged for a service tailored to their needs. The business models of the future will be founded on providing and managing those services.

So what does the slide show us? It comes, in fact, from software company Reposit and it shows the amount a house in Canberra fitted with solar and battery storage draws from the grid (that is the orange line) For most of the day it is effectively nothing.

Imagine, now, millions of home installed with solar and battery storage, as is predicted over the next five to 10 years. As the folk from Power Ledger pointed out earlier this week, the “crossover point” between the cost of solar and storage on one hand and the grid-sourced power on the other could occur in 2017.

When that happens, they noted, the amount of “load defection” – the amount generated and stored behind the meter and never visible to the grid, or to the retailers – could shift as high as 97 per cent, with the grid used as a back-up or top-up.

It shows why, according to Myatt, the current “gentailer” model, which relies on heavy consumption from the grid, and investment in large centralised generation, cannot continue over the long term.

“The big gentailers like AGL and Origin Energy have conflicted models,” Myatt says, because of their reliance on massive generation fleets and high consumption from consumers.

“In the current model, profit is linked to consumption. They want you to use more. They might tell you that they want to use less. But they make profit by you using more.”

(It should be noted that Mojo has been having a bit of fun at AGL’s expense this week, planting a billboard in front of AGL’s headquarters quoting Vesey about the management of individual consumers. See pic below).

mojo agl

Myatt argues that the future will see a “zero-fuel” model – a “de-gentailer” if you will – because little electricity will need to be bought from the wholesale market.

Consumers will largely generate and store their own energy, and this energy could then be shared, as the likes of Power Ledger and others suggest, using the Blockchain technology that underpinned Bitcoin in the case of Power Ledger.

Myatt says the cost of power will be driven by the capital costs of solar and storage, not the cost of fuel, and those capital cost will be further amortised as more services enter the market, such as for frequency control for the overlying grid.

Mojo believes it has found the answer by delinking profit from consumption, and offering a “subscriber” service that is tailored around the customer needs.

“I can’t see how you can have model that derives profitability from consumption from the grid. We are not suggesting that consumers use less energy … but we don’t have to be a slave to the upstream position. We don’t have to be conflicted by it.

“The power station of the future will be fragmented. It won’t be a virtual power plant, it will be very real. But instead of having a 1000MW centralised power plant, it will be broken into thousands of different pieces.”

Battery storage, of course, is the key, as well as smart software and new way of thinking about business models. Myatt thinks the crossover point is around $700/kWh for battery storage. “We’re not there yet, but we’re getting close.”

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  1. Desmond 4 years ago

    Maybe someone should have fun with Mojo power disregard for environmental benefits of linking high consumption with high cost?
    “I can’t see how you can have model that derives profitability from consumption from the grid. We are not suggesting that consumers use less energy …” Mojo CEO

    • Jon 4 years ago

      Yes the Mojo model is that you pay them regardless of what you use. So it only makes sense if you’re a high energy user. In the future when the grid has far less carbon intensity this will be less of a problem for the environment. So far Mojo haven’t presented a different business model….just a different tariff!

      • Desmond 4 years ago

        I’m not sure they even do that though, they charge subscription and then pass through the wholesale rate so yes it only makes sense if your average daily usage is above something like 20kWh from memory. Unfortunately though the networks are also moving towards a fixed connection model with little cost recovery on the kWh consumption. Essentially a handbrake on both energy efficiency and solar. Doesn’t really align with the network principles of sustainability and environmental regard

        • Kenshō 4 years ago

          Moving to fixed charges gives networks time so what will they do with this time?

  2. Mark Roest 4 years ago

    Is James Myatt on this thread? Would you like to discuss development that is pointing to well under $700 per kWh, with strong specific energy and specific power?

    • Kenshō 4 years ago

      It’s necessary to buy a sports car to get cheap lithium batteries.

      • Mark Roest 4 years ago

        Maybe for another year, if you don’t have a strong connection to LG Chem, which says they’ll sell to stationary app.s also. After that, it’s heading toward $100/kWh really fast.

        • Kenshō 4 years ago

          If your right, even a smart grid will need to evolve quickly to remain financially viable and even then it would probably only survive in moderate to densely populated areas.

        • Kenshō 4 years ago

          Above Bill Holiday has said “Currently an Australian supplier is offering a 6.4kWh Lithium battery for $878 per usable kWh, so $700 is perhaps only a year away.”

          Are you sure your position isn’t based upon “positive thinking” because you feel this is what needs to happen or you wish to happen? There appears a big difference between current prices and the trajectory your picturing. Can you expand on your confidence battery prices will drop so markedly?

  3. Kenshō 4 years ago

    Attempting to move profit from generation to distribution/retail when most of the cost is already in poles and wires. How profoundly will the grid evolve? Will the grid ever be motivated to be a cost effective service?

  4. David M 4 years ago

    Great Article. I think that cross over point, as is referred in the article, as already happened for the bulk of the Australian Market. The lagging bit is the new business models to support it. Once people come off feed-in tariffs then market appetite will grow immensely. There will be an overnight demand fall when people move from 45% self consumption to 97%.

    • trackdaze 4 years ago

      Kind of needs to be over 100% so utilities and networks dont charge a recovery cost (aka ransom) for the 3%.

      Electric vehicles v2g can provide this reserve overand above stationary storage everynow and then without compromising longevity.

  5. Jeremy Lawrence 4 years ago

    The analysis should be updated to reflect the likely scenario where most vehicles will be electric and charged at home.

    • Mike Dill 4 years ago

      My thinking is that electric vehicles will charge wherever they are during the day, as the wholesale prices of electricity will be VERY low when the sun is shining. Also, extremely limited V2H will allow an additional buffer for the dark and calm winter days.

      • Wayne Kirby 4 years ago

        Regardless of where the electric cars are to be charged there seems to be a lack of understanding of how much extra power is required to charge these systems. If an average car requires 40kWhr for daily use then the average home would not have that much roof space or capital to fund the required batteries as such this will come from the grid. 1 million cars equates to 40 Giga Whr per day. At least half of this will have to come from the grid.

        • Mike Dill 4 years ago

          Yes it will be a big draw. If teh charging happens during the sunny part of the day there will be PV to draw on. If it happens during the dead of the night there may be some baseload idling along that needs to be used. The shoulder cases are where it may get interesting if the wind is not blowing. A rational BEV user will figure these things out.

          • stucrmnx120fshwf 4 years ago

            To be honest, I’m thinking some of these factors, lead to utility solar and liquid hydrogen storage, installation cost, will soon be more than solar panels cost and the liquid natural gas tanker fleet, continues to grow.

          • Mike Dill 4 years ago

            My feeling is that solar PV will continue to grow, as the costs continue to come down. even if it is only marginally cost effective. I will get rid of my gas hot water heater in a year or two, as it will make sense to ‘dump’ my excess electricity there rather than pay for gas.

          • stucrmnx120fshwf 4 years ago

            I used to have a gas Hot water heating system, quite efficient, but the service charge for having it there, was more than the gas I used, I do hear that solar PV has become cheaper than thermal solar Hot water systems. Now I live in a place, with renovated seals, LED lighting, LED screens on TV, phablet, tablets, reverse cycle air conditioning, insulated roof, insulated curtains, microwave oven. It’s a smaller place than my last one, so I put in the equivalent of my electricity and gas bill less $5 per fortnight, at $45, the bill came in at $120 credit, for the winter quarter in Tasmania. So I figure that the spring, summer and autumn quarter I can put in $14 per fortnight, I’m getting huge savings, from higher efficiencies, I’m renting, but if I buy here, I might get solar panels, plus batteries.

            Peak strains on the utility power, will lower, but heavy industries, will gain from lower prices as solar becomes cheaper, than carbon dioxide emissions power, increasing their demand on the trunk lines. Taking up the slack created by the reductions in household power consumption, due to efficiencies, solar, batteries. Cheap solar will spawn new industrial consumption, such as high rise LED hydroponic farming, using reverse osmosis desalination. Waste from high rise farming O2, waste from hydrogen production O2, so we substitute smog and soot in our cities for O2. With a reduction in cancerous diseases, equivalent to the reduction in infectious diseases, in the second industrial revolution (sewage treatment plants, clean water, garbage disposal, horse manure removal,) go 3rd IR.

      • Neo Lib Yes 4 years ago

        Unless you are a business owner and set up your own charge station, using public charging points will be expensive for EV’s. This is a good article, however Mojo also described the future as requiring D-Gentailers, these will be the ones that vertically integrate and control the fragmented distributed generation units. It also assumes that everybody will have solar and storage, however around 1/3 of households are rentals. According to the forecasters that proportion will increase given the lack of affordable houses. There will also be a proportion of house owners who will be the laggards, due to disinterest or lack of funds, so the D-Gentailer will step up and offer package deals. The entities who will do this are the existing Utilities, who have the backing and market position. So in 10 years or so, the deck chairs will have been shuffled around and the same entities will still control most of the market, only generation will now be more distributed and less centralised thermal coal powered.

        • Mike Dill 4 years ago

          The company that I work for has run the numbers, and has found that the cost of L2 charging stations per ‘EV employee’ when including the kWh is about $2000 to $4000/year. While that might seem like a lot, they can pay us a bit less.
          I would gladly pay 50c/kWh for a charge station at my favorite restaurants. Not a great amount more that the check would have been, less that the cost of driving an ICE per mile, and a great draw for the restaurant.

          • Neo Lib Yes 4 years ago

            FBT would apply, no such thing as a free lunch or power.

  6. Bill Holliday 4 years ago

    Currently an Australian supplier is offering a 6.4kWh Lithium battery for $878 per usable kWh, so $700 is perhaps only a year away.

    However there are three problems. The first is that to go completely off-grid you may need perhaps 7 days of storage not one day of storage since wet rainy, zero solar-generation, weather can last this long.

    The second problem is that household winter heating may require as much as 20 to 50 kWh a day and hence storage to match. The alternatives are much better house insulation or gas or firewood or less storage combined with a heat pump. A much cheaper alternative, if you have the space, is hot water storage at 50kWh per 1000 litres of hot (90 C) water.

    The third problem is that the grid companies, seeing their revenue source vanishing, will start charging on the basis of maximum demand. When this happens you will have to either trim your energy usage in cold weather (live in one room, more woolly jumpers etc), cough up for enough batteries to trim your peak usage or find a cheap method of storage or alternative energy source (see above).

    • Kenshō 4 years ago

      Yes so the solution is Hybrid which is PV/storage + grid and tuning the system to take any shortfall slowly

    • Mark Roest 4 years ago

      As far back as I can remember, the serious solar installers said conserve first, then use PV to make up the difference. Conserving is by far the cheapest source of energy, a la Ben Franklin’s “A penny saved is a penny earned.” Consider using passive solar design and soon, building-integrated solar PV as a major part of a remodel. You will be much more comfortable and happy.

      • wmh 4 years ago

        Yeah, insulation in floor, walls and ceiling plus a change to LED lighting, TV etc. However passive solar design is not much use during a several winter days of 100% cloud cover. You need storage either as batteries/ hot water/ firewood or your mains gas / heap of coal at the power station.

        • Ian 4 years ago

          The thrust of what mark said is spot-on, and applies most of time for well- designed homes.

        • Kenshō 4 years ago

          PV is so cheap it is now worth installing to cover everything from cloud to future EV’s. So in practice, each property needs a comprehensive development plan, integrating a roll out of PV arrays for every suitable building, carpark, walkways etc.

      • nakedChimp 4 years ago

        I wonder when they will start to rip off those fancy roofs they still build around here and replace them with something more practical for solar.

        • solarguy 4 years ago

          Some building companies are starting to see the light and are designing and building passive solar homes with 7-8 star rating and more North roof space for PV and SHW.
          Gov should mandate this.

    • Carl Raymond S 4 years ago

      Another outlier concerns electric cars, which also arrive en masse once $/kWh cross the tipping point (pretty much the same day the gigafactory hits max output).
      On those rare occasions when you do back to back road trips, you need a full charge, up to 90kWh, overnight. No ordinary off grid system will cope with that.

      • Kenshō 4 years ago

        Well that will need at least a 90kWh stationary battery and if there is an average of 4 Peak Sun Hours (PSH) in that location, a PV array that is 90 divided by 4 = 22.5kW of PV array. Or a hybrid inverter/charger will need to get the shortfall slowly or after any demand tariff or however the grid determines the cheapest way to get it..

    • Mike Dill 4 years ago

      Bill, if you do nothing but go off-grid, you may need seven days of storage. That being said, if you also change your heating strategies and have an insulated house, the total amount of storage needed is much less as you have noted. The reality is that there is usually only 2 or 3, three or four day cold dark and calm periods in a normal year for most of us.

      Right now, some alternative energy source for the 5% of the time that two days of storage fails to cover will cost you significantly less than more batteries, and very soon (2018-2020) it will cost less than staying connected.

      • wmh 4 years ago

        Mike, I am in complete agreement. The question is – which alternative energy source? In the country it might be firewood combined with a fuel stove and wetback. In the city it could be bottled gas or a petrol powered electricity generator. However imagine a suburb with every house running a petrol generator.

        My solution is lots more hot water storage because heating is perhaps 80% of winter household energy usage and the extra tanks can be unpressurised and hence cheap. The extra storage to cover the remaining 20% is now a fraction of the total and perhaps economic to use batteries.

        In summer, cooling is required but generally not on cloudy days so you can run your air conditioner/ heat pump directly from the PV and rely on thermal mass (and those extra batteries!) to last you through the night.

        The population at large hasn’t realised yet that LED-based lighting and electronics is now a ridiculously small part of the daily energy demand. Enough light for a large room is provided by a 9W LED and my new 14 inch screen laptop draws only 8W. This reduces the required size of night time batteries enormously.

        Cooking is the last hurdle. It requires boiling water temperatures and more. However while there may be a lot of energy in baking a cake there is little energy in hard boiling four eggs or cooking porridge because the cooking times are short.

        • Mike Dill 4 years ago

          Hot water storage makes a great deal of sense, even in those places that do not get very cold.
          I have an Induction Hob, and that has cut my cooking energy use by more than half. I have changed out most of my lights with LEDs, and recently replaced my old heating and cooling system with an efficient air source heat exchange unit, and doubled my house insulation.

          My ‘problem’ right now is the power used for food refrigeration. I have a real problem convincing my other half that most items that we currently have in the fridge do not need refrigeration. Running the fridge heats the house, and here in the south of the USA (I live in Las Vegas) my major expense is cooling in the summer rather than heating in the winter.

          • Kenshō 4 years ago

            A fridge is low wattage and only runs a small % of the time and hence its a bit hard calculating how much power they use though it’s low. I know from my campervan a 180W panel and a 100Ah lead acid battery (1.2kWh with less than half of that usable) was sufficient for an 80L DC upright fridge. I know 80L is small though it seemed to only use 0.6kWh max overnight and fridges get more efficient for the size as they get bigger.

          • Mike Dill 4 years ago

            Here in the USA we have a company that sells very high efficiency units, that can run on PV or grid power. Of course they are smaller than average, but still very efficient.

            I think the units are manufactured in china currently (What else is new), There is a change that can be made to switch the freezer into a refrigerator, but I have not looked into it.

          • Kenshō 4 years ago

            Wow they look fantastic, it’s a shift in concept moving to a chest refrigerator/freezer though I’ve lived with one installed bench level in a yacht for a few weeks and found it manageable, although that one was a bit small and didn’t have highly organised trays. They are probably double the efficiency of upright models and may appeal to particularly hot climates, yachts, where there is a modest sized PV and battery, storing meat, beer etc – not that I drink. One technical issue with them is they run on 24V. I purchased an upright DC 12V/24V fridge (double the price) and hence built a solar system around 24V for my first smallest sized building on the property. I did this to add a bit of flexibility into the system so at least one fridge wasn’t running of the inverter/charger – in case it ever had a failure. It also enabled me to add a 24V cigarette lighter charging socket, ditto with a couple merit sockets (one for the fridge) and a dual USB charging socket. I did all that so computers and phones would also be powered in the event of an inverter/charger failure. Getting away with 24V rather than the industry standard of 48V, either needs a small building, large wires or skilfully organising appliances reasonably close to the battery. All worth it when that extra flexibility and reliability are needed as there’s only a fuse or DC circuit breaker in-between the appliance and the battery – hence less that can go wrong for any critical systems.

          • Kenshō 4 years ago

            This problem of having an industry standard around battery bank voltage and hence an industry standard around simply running DC appliances directly off a battery is not a technical one, it is merely a problem of sales, marketing and engineers keeping society sucking on the AC umbilical cord. I imagine the industry will eventually evolve the most cost effective solutions in the long term.

          • wmh 4 years ago

            G’day Mike,
            I live in Sydney, Australia where the houses are generally not insulated and don’t have central heating or cooling beyond perhaps an air conditioner or two.

            I have heard that freezers are much better insulated than fridges and that all that is necessary to convert them is to change the thermostat to one that can be turned up to about 4 C.

          • Mike Dill 4 years ago

            While insulation is not ‘sexy’, tearing the insides of exterior walls out and adding it gives you about a three year ROI if you do it yourself. Having someone else do it will take the costs up, and increase the payback time.
            Since I plan to retire in my current house, and live there for another twenty years (perhaps only in the winter), I felt that any improvement that had a positive payback made sense. The PV array will take some time as the rules and tariffs are changing, and storage will make sense even here in another year or two.
            It is possible to buy highly efficient refrigerators and freezers, but getting specifications for that is nearly impossible in most cases.

        • stucrmnx120fshwf 4 years ago

          Microwaves use 30% as much electricity, as heat the house in summer ovens, where electric heating is best done by reverse cycle air conditioning 1/3rd of the price, with good insulation and seals. I use LED bulbs and mobile battery storage internet devices, LED TV, in fact all 3 of my light and screen systems are LED, my last electricity bill came in $120 in credit. So now I’m only going to have to pay $14 a fortnight, for electricity for the next 9 months. By the by, induction cookers use 30% as much power as well, heat the food, not the food heater, much more efficient.

      • stucrmnx120fshwf 4 years ago

        Efficiencies are important, I live in Tasmania, so I was putting in $45 a fortnight for electricity, but because of insulation, reverse cycle air conditioning, the renovated seals, the house being small. My power bill came in $120 in credit, so for the next 9 months I’m only going to have to pay $14 a fortnight. One of these days I must buy my own house, slap on some solar panels and some battery storage, if it’s efficient, the house electricity bill will be negligible.

    • Ren Stimpy 4 years ago

      Perhaps a cheapish diesel generator genset, which would only be needed for perhaps 10-15 days per year? And only for the next 5-7 years, by which time tech will have completely turned the market upside down.

  7. john 4 years ago

    I am presently mixed up with looking at a small company situation in Qld.
    After this financial year hard decisions have to be made.
    It would appear only two types of tariff are on offer, either 51c a KwH for summer peak day time for 90 days and 25c other times or demand tariff which is $31 a kw peak demand and 14c KwH usage.
    Hard to work out which way to go.
    Battery storage comes to mind obviously which ever tariff is chosen.

    • Kenshō 4 years ago

      It’s too complex for me though I can say skilful choice of inverter/charger can:
      # Take the peaks off to the extent of the peak power output of the inverter from the batteries,
      # The battery needs to be big enough to produce the amps for those times the inverter/charger is working at its peak,
      # If your loads can be staggered consecutively during the solar day this will minimise the size of the battery and inverter/chargers needed,
      # PV is cheap so every suitable roof should be skilfully maxed out,
      # If your short on cash for the capital outlay generally speaking the best strategy is go hard on PV as its cheap, get the inverter/charger with the minimum power and load management software to achieve your goals and be modest with batteries knowing they are still coming down in price,
      # Take responsibility to think clearly about the rationale of any installer as you need a system suiting your unique application not one merely with the strengths they will tell you their system has,
      # If you can’t afford everything at once that’s ok ask for a system that can be rolled out in stages,
      # energy efficiency comes first.
      The proper answer of your questions comes down to exactly what the power usage profile of the industry is. It’s important to beware many installers are biased like car salesman with a pet brand so it’s buyer beware.

      • Analitik 4 years ago

        That’s great advice – go with what is economically viable now and then re-evaluate as technology progresses.

        Since your peak demand is likely to be in summer during the day with high a/c usage, I would forego the storage for now and just max out your budget on PV so you can run the a/c while there is sunshine to prevent the house getting hot. Suitable shading and insulation should also be used, of course.

        • Kenshō 4 years ago

          That’s definitely possible as some inverters can function with or without batteries.

        • Kenshō 4 years ago

          Yes the primary focus needs be looking carefully at which section or profile of the community can get a financial winner now. This website needs to keep to its stated goal of “Tracking The Next Industrial Revolution”. It’s not happening en mass. It’s happening in a specific order and timing. The biggest factor currently is sites that can get away with a small battery can get a fast payback and those needing a big battery still have a longer payback, whereas the actual PV is cheap. It depends upon the sites load profile being around the solar day and in the commercial/industrial sector it especially seems to be around load management and getting around demand charges.

  8. Leroy Essek 4 years ago

    No doubt in my mind with Joi Scientific (located at NASA’s KSC) being able to produce energy 24/7 the future looks good for low cost zero pollution energy and distilled water from any source.

  9. Leroy Essek 4 years ago

    Transactive Grid w/ Lo3 Energy is a microgrid with no overhead or employees to distribute low cost renewable energy to your choice not the utilities.

    • Analitik 4 years ago

      No overhead or employees – wow!
      What happens when trees grow up to the power lines? Or an uninsured car hits a power pole? Or lines and connections just age and fail?

  10. Robin_Harrison 4 years ago

    Maybe the grid operators will have to increase feed in tariffs to stay relevant……for a little longer.

    • Kenshō 4 years ago

      Because networks are exclusively in control of FIT’s, I think its necessary to design solar/wind/storage systems that are flexible enough to be programmed to cope without them. e.g. all the people with grid-connect systems with generous FIT’s are perhaps going to experience bill shock. In terms of timing, it seems logical networks won’t give a FIT until batteries are competitive enough they have to in order to retain customers using the grid as their battery.

    • Kenshō 4 years ago

      If we look at your question in reverse, hoping for a FIT is like the dilemma of whether to buy a battery. An analogy for buying battery could be like the decision to buy a fridge. The person who pays the capital outlay for a fridge inevitably gets a cheaper fridge overall. The person renting a fridge will always pay more because people who supply rental fridges always base their prices on the cost of buying a fridge. In summary, getting a FIT depends upon the cost of the grid to act like your very own network battery, however a grid is primarily motivated by profits and hence will only offer a FIT to keep you if they feel battery prices will lure you away and if it is within their means to do something to keep you.

      • Robin_Harrison 4 years ago

        It wasn’t a question, it was an observation.
        As solar+storage reaches price parity with grid, they will have to find ways to keep customers who will otherwise simply go off grid. As the cost of solar+storage continues to decline it will get even more difficult for them.

        • Kenshō 4 years ago

          When solar + storage reaches price parity with the grid, the grid may not do anything because few property owners may have the capital to invest in solar + storage and renters don’t have a choice. The grid doesn’t seem to have to do anything except abide by basic wishes of regulators and we don’t know if regulators won’t simply allow grids to raise fixed charges when any load defection happens. As price parity hasn’t appeared to have happened yet, and we don’t absolutely know if it will before EV’s get here, we further don’t know if grid’s will persist in the view they have a captive market.

          • Robin_Harrison 4 years ago

            Already close to price parity in Australia and uptake is accelerating. What’s more, the current pattern of battery technology improvement and cost reduction predicts EV price parity with ICEV by 2025.
            It’s all happening a lot faster than people think.

          • Kenshō 4 years ago

            I’m no market analyst, however some commentators feel EV’s are driving price reductions in batteries and hence battery technology and pricing appears correlated with EV’s. If it’s a high correlation and EV’s arrive at the same time as cost effective house batteries, then those people who buy EV’s may feel stuck with a grid.

          • Robin_Harrison 4 years ago

            When I say “It’s all happening a lot faster than people think”
            I’m referring to overall market conditions and patterns that are becoming evident.
            Your analysis is about what you would have to do to come up to speed right now.
            That isn’t what’s happening, it’s a progressive adoption of increasingly affordable technology.
            There’s a close correlation between EVs and storage batteries. For instance Tesla is building a battery gigafactory that will double the global production of lithium batteries and they’re not alone.
            EV price parity with ICEV by 2025 means means all new cars will then be EVs. The massive difference in maintenance and running costs guarantee it.

          • Kenshō 4 years ago

            Sounds wondrous, I can see there’s going to be an increasing abundance of more cost effective energy and vehicles. In terms of exiting a grid or taking part in experiencing an energy abundance, each property may have short term limits on PV that can be installed and DA’s may need to be submitted to enable the needed roof space.

          • Robin_Harrison 4 years ago

            It certainly looks promising in this transition period towards a sustainable future. However, given the amount of stuff we need to change, the race between transition and extinction will be a close run thing.
            I wouldn’t take bets on the outcome.

          • Kenshō 4 years ago

            I agree. I think the fastest transition is looking carefully at which section or profile of the community can currently get a financial winner. The fellow below (John) whose business is facing demand charges is a good example. Another is families with a home/office as they could begin with a small battery and a PV system based around consuming during the solar day. Another is offices with people only there in the daytime. Another is heavy industry which needs to use load management software to line up loads consecutively. Most articles on this site focus on universal tipping point analysis of RE and my position is it is really not serving us as a community nor generating the best environmental outcomes.

          • Robin_Harrison 4 years ago

            You’re right, all of those heavier use elements are growing well because they are increasingly becoming the economically smart thing to don But there’s quite a lot of stuff at the community level too for the same reasons. Domestic solar+storage is growing rapidly and community RE projects are starting to emerge. A number of towns in our region are doing it with remarkable success. In remoter areas of India, China and Africa where there is no grid, they are skipping that altogether.
            As for environmental benefits, it’s that progressive thing again. This is only where we’re up to now and, inevitably, it will get better. It certainly needs to and, fortunately, the economic drivers in that direction are becoming evident.

          • Kenshō 4 years ago

            It’s possible for certain applications in developing countries to skip a grid altogether because cheap simple solar systems are only comprised of solar panels, solar regulator, battery (all DC) and DC appliances – hence no inverter/charger needed. In developed countries we do this with yachts, RV’s and small buildings. Even in the largest houses, most appliances run on DC internally, even though they have an AC transformer plug in the wall or inside the device (eg. EV fast chargers deliver DC). When engineers eventually settle on a standardised battery voltage, appliance companies will be able to manufacture appliances without transformers. Then inverter/chargers will scale back in size. PV is cheap though inverter/chargers are the second biggest cost after batteries. PV, house batteries, EV, all work on DC transfers and are often all located in the garage.

          • Robin_Harrison 4 years ago

            Good to see you getting the information together. It’s a really worthwhile investment.
            I’m an extremely early adopter. Due to remoteness RE has been the only option for over 30 years now. It was way more expensive then with no subsidies, nor was it as efficient but it has still more than payed for itself and later upgrades.
            So the free energy for my house and free fuel for my EV is rapidly becoming affordable for all.
            Good luck on your journey.

          • Kenshō 4 years ago

            My field is social welfare and meditation eg last work on telephones for lifeline.

          • Robin_Harrison 4 years ago

            An incredibly important calling, particularly in our current world where the mainstream media seems bent on creating as much fear and uncertainty they can. it probably sells more stuff.
            Lucky for your clients and you that you’re into meditation.

          • Kenshō 4 years ago

            Ive just got home from the beach. This comment here:

            “Your analysis is about what you would have to do to come up to speed right now. That isn’t what’s happening, it’s a progressive adoption of increasingly affordable technology.”

            I began a soldier and trained in electronics. I’ve already designed and implemented a solar system for $7600 which powers my property reasonably independently apart from heating in winter. It’s cost effective. It has coped with two daytime grid outages. I think your achievement as a remote homestead with 30 years experience is fantastic leadership. However, instead of waving the solar is good flag, I’m interested in acknowledging the realistic challenges, and hearing which households and businesses are most likely to find it easiest to move forward with solar now. If you have learnings around remote systems I’m glad to hear them. The system here only needed a small battery as its hybrid (PV/storage + grid) and the primary focus is self consumption during the daytime. I imagine there will be many households in a similar situation to ours, who will move forward when generous FITs end. For those doing “home/office” like ours and for commercial and industrial premises “consuming around the solar day”, I imagine this will be relatively easy.

          • Robin_Harrison 4 years ago

            I was a soldier too. Then corporate ladder climbing then into the arts.
            You were telling me what was needed so I thought it appropriate to let you know where I was up to. I’m certainly not waving any flags, simply applying logic to observed phenomena.
            We’re seeing exponential growth of RE technology and exponential starts small and gets big quick. This is seriously disruptive technology at least on the level of the introduction of the automobile.
            Here’s how disruptive that was. An early photo of the Easter Parade in NY had 1 automobile, all the rest of the heavy traffic was horse drawn. Same place 13 years later, all cars no horses.
            By 2025 all new cars will be electric and RE technology on all fronts is on the same path.
            My initial comment was inferring that, as more people move toward solar +storage as the cost continues to fall, grid operators will maybe have to increase FITs if they want to remain relevant. They may not, they may never get it. But we will. In fact we both have.
            BTW grid connection was available back then for $30,000 and a lot of forest destruction. We got a really good solar system for $20,000 and kept the forest. Pretty good deal.

          • Kenshō 4 years ago

            Thanks for your investment in green technology, as it’s made it available for more of us today. I bought my batteries a year ago and they are old generation lead acid batteries with a modest depth of discharge and modest round-trip-efficiency. Now there’s hundreds of thousands of households and businesses, with the opportunity to move ahead with new generation PV/storage systems.

          • Robin_Harrison 4 years ago

            I was incredibly pleased that solar was our best economic solution. Even more pleased it’s rapidly becoming a better economic solution for all.
            Once grid operators see the light and get off their fossil fuel addiction they have a possible future relevance in conjunction with domestic solar. Transporting and selling energy without having to fund massive generators.
            One day maybe. Either that or their continuing meanness with FITs persuades a more rapid transition to home storage. They may be creating their own ‘Kodak Moment’.

          • Kenshō 4 years ago

            Yes and networks and regulators are changing the rules, so as a community we need keep our eye on the ball, and certain sections of the community are best placed to run the ball up. At this moment, those who cannot self consume during the solar day will find it hard to get a payback before the equipment’s warrantee expires, unless they can use extensive load management to turn things on while they are out – eg. pool pumps, hot water, pre-heating cement slabs and space heating before they return in the evening from work. On the other hand, those able to base their usage around the solar day will get a swift payback. It is the difference between thinking in universals and focusing upon timing and implementation as the technology prices stand today. As community I think we need be honest and pragmatic and focus on that.

          • Robin_Harrison 4 years ago

            I couldn’t agree more. Fortunately we tend to adapt pretty quickly to available technology and, given the chance, are constantly finding better ways to use it.
            Most of our power use adaptation to our system is completely habituated now. It’s become the ‘normal’ way to use energy. I don’t know if you’ve found this yet but your energy use will probably reduce significantly, just by cutting out the waste. We have a house, 2 cottages and 3 EVs and have no restrictions whatever on our energy use. However, collectively we use about a third the energy of one average suburban home and an EV.
            Lights and appliances are never left on except the fridges. Solar HWS and we used passive solar building principles, so little if any energy is needed for heating/cooling.
            Integrate enough strategies and you don’t need much energy, particularly how little energy modern electronics use, and what you need you can have for free.
            It’s a trickle down effect but it’s trickling quite quickly.

          • Kenshō 4 years ago

            A trickle down effect is a neo-liberal myth.

          • Robin_Harrison 4 years ago

            Only when applied to neo-liberal economics. It does apply to technological advance. New tech is always expensive and then it gets cheaper and that’s the trickle down effect the neo-liberals stole for their bullshit economics.
            Have you noticed, neo-liberals have nothing that’s new or remotely liberal? Like their notion of economic rationalism which is neither economic nor rational, except for the mega-rich.
            They like to surround us with lies.

          • Kenshō 4 years ago

            Henry Ford? Seemed pitched at mass market and he had a distaste for all the colours and models of new car makers.. felt the Model T was sufficient and all that was needed.

          • Robin_Harrison 4 years ago

            A perfect example of the trickle down effect with technology. Before the affordable for most people Model T, cars were very expensive and, the earliest were only for the very rich. A bit like Tesla is doing it.

          • Kenshō 4 years ago

            Tesla currently has sports and SUV. Ford produced a vehicle for everyday transport not sports or 4WD. The Powerwall is another example, an over engineered fashion battery. No installer would put a battery on an external wall as batteries can lose 50% of their life for each 10 degree rise in temperature. Batteries inside in cool temperatures don’t need liquid cooling. It’s only the colourful oval battery that needs displaying. Normal batteries are shaped like boxes or fridges.

            “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:


          • Robin_Harrison 4 years ago

            Sorry, i thought you might know the whole story.
            Start with high cost, small production sports car for the very rich and as proof of concept. Then somewhat higher production and lower cost sedan and suv for the rich. Next comes the Model III. Much higher production and lowered price for the fairly well off. After that a model with even higher production and lowered price for the rest of us. The trickle down effect.
            The powerwall is capable of being mounted outside and is seriously insulated, but generally it’s mounted in the garage.
            The significance of the powerwall can’t be understated. Like the Tesla car it has been a profoundly disruptive technology and for the same reason. Nobody else was doing it. In the case of the powerwall, for anywhere near the price. It wasn’t long before others joined in. Now there are a lot of domestic power storage units all competing for customers further lowering the price.
            Their preference for elegant design might offend you but it’s an excellent bit of kit. If I was in the market for a storage upgrade it would certainly get a look.

          • Kenshō 4 years ago

            I’m not really interested in discussing products and sales pitch. I think Tesla Motors is doing something positive for humanity and I don’t think it’s wise to base all our hopes and dreams fulfilled upon the shoulders of one company. In terms of a trickle down effect happening for a mass market vehicle, I personally think Tesla Motors needs to consolidate and follow through on the orders of vehicles it already has rather than planning yet another vehicle. Some commentators are beginning to feel Tesla has enough debt, its goals of bringing down vehicles in price may be getting more difficult:


          • Robin_Harrison 4 years ago

            You certainly seemed to be interested in discussing products and sales pitch when you were bagging Tesla. So don’t lay that shit on me.
            Their progression in vehicle development has been their plan from day one, which was what I was using as an example of the trickle down effect in technology.
            I find it interesting the amount of times you ignore whatever we are discussing and use small excuses to be adversarial. Discussion is great for sharing knowledge and information. Adversarial not so much.
            I’m sure Tesla will be grateful for your advice if they go off the rails but I don’t think that will be any time soon. Their plan is doing just fine. Nearly 400,00 preorders for the Model III which no other vehicle has had in the history of cars. Whatever efforts the legacy car makers put into EVs is because of the success of Tesla. If you don’t know that you really haven’t been paying attention.
            I’ve been up for rational, polite discussion with you but I’m over your adversarial spats. Goodbye.

          • Kenshō 4 years ago

            The topic is transport and effective storage. The effect on traditional utilities.

          • Robin_Harrison 4 years ago

            And, thus, the trickle down effect of our current transport and effective storage patterns and its effect on traditional utilities.
            We were only discussing that because of your adversarial perception the ‘trickle down effect’ only applied to neo-liberal economics.
            Paying attention to what is actually said is not your strong point either.
            Done with you, bye now.

          • Kenshō 4 years ago

            From a technician’s perspective, I’d like to see Tesla make a low tech workhorse battery in a traditional battery rack that’s easy to service and replace batteries. With vehicles I’d also like to see practical mass market vehicles.

          • Kenshō 4 years ago

            When you say “It’s all happening a lot faster than people think” what I’m hearing is your family is budgeting on buying a couple EV’s with 90kWh batteries each and taking your property off grid at the same time. If you buy 2 x EV’s and wish to give one a full charge, you need a 90kWh house battery just for that and if you have 4 x peak sun hours in your area, you need a 22.5kW PV array just to give one vehicle a full charge. Then there’s the portion of the solar system for your buildings.

          • Mike Dill 4 years ago

            Daytime wholesale electric rates will be low enough (most of the time) for you to charge anywhere when the sun is shining and the wind is blowing. No need to overbuild your household grid as charging anywhere will be inexpensive as the infrastructure develops.

          • Martin Sevior 4 years ago

            Tesla already has EV-scale battery costs well $200 per KWHr. The reason household storage costs are substantially higher is because the associated power-electronics are (currently) a niche market and priced accordingly. Once Telsa jumps fully into household storage I expect to see household battery prices below $500 per KWHr. This could easily happen by early 2017.

            BTW average daily EV use is around 50 km. At 7 km/KWHr that means the daily top up is only ~7 KWHr. No need for a full re-charge every day.

          • Kenshō 4 years ago

            Let’s not count our chickens before they’re hatched. Tesla’s battery prices are part of a vehicle sale and currently those are luxury performance oriented vehicles. Battery Management Systems (BMS) for lithium batteries have been around as long as lithium batteries which have been produced by a variety of lithium battery manufacturers. I’m not interested in placing humanities hopes in one company. There are currently many storage companies and many individual battery manufacturers. We also need be careful depending upon one manufacturers rollout of fast chargers. The community is not a fan club. It would be far better to focus in the present rather than a hypothesised future – especially if your interested in environmental remediation and the community genuinely moving forward with new technologies.

            I’m not interested in being seduced by products or sales pitches.

        • Alastair Leith 4 years ago

          Have you factored in EV charging at convenient times (especially for EV users who don’t have the car at home during strong sunlight) tot he temptation for going off grid? Will the savings in dollars make up for the loss of convenience and capital outlay for big DOD storage?

          Blockchain based power trading that’s being trialled in various cities on a small scale could overcome the localisation problem of going almost-off-grid (i.e. home solar + storage with a grid connection for trading energy and transferring energy to some other location like a multi-storey car park to charge your family’s cars).

          Some say autonomous EV, semi-private-transport-as-a-service will mean much fewer private only EVs with vastly more corporately owned (think Apple’s iCar) and privately owned but shared (via autonomous driving and automated car pooling) vehicles. If so the grids really do have something to worry about in terms of keeping their “long tail” of customers (where most of their mark-up pricing occurs).

          • Robin_Harrison 4 years ago

            I couldn’t agree more. There are a lot more choices becoming available for consumers. Those choices start out expensive and uptake rapidly makes them affordable, true of all emergent and disruptive technology.
            The basic truth for any technology based company is, keep up or go to the wall. Grid operators, with their monopoly of power supply so far, seem to have been forgetting they are a technology based industry and it applies to them too.

  11. Kenshō 4 years ago

    As grids are primarily motivated to return profits to shareholders, they will always prioritise quality of service last. They won’t change unless death through load defection appears immanent, and even then some will probably learn hard lessons by being caught out by the pace of technology changes. Therefore, those states without proactive, aware and strategic politicians, will inevitably experience a dip in grid service before an improvement. If politicians do little to take responsibility for fair regulation, some states can expect severe shortcomings in reliability and steep rises in fixed charges. This is because reliability % is the main thing that costs money and load defection or grid defection will reduce money.

  12. Kenshō 4 years ago

    Essential Energy’s currently planned network maintenance… Driving fixed charges…
    Therefore, load defection = rises in fixed charges or less reliability % ( – potential offsets by new technology and service models).

  13. Kenshō 4 years ago

    Mojo has attempted to twist the intention of Vesey’s words around for their own business advantage. Vesey was describing the tension inherent in all business, the tension between maintaining shareholder profits and keeping customers. Vesey appears cooperative at a time in history where few leaders in established structures appear to be.

  14. Kenshō 4 years ago

    All in all, if we budget in EV’s it’s hard to envision the death of traditional utilities, although the extent we can harvest energy on our own properties probably has a large effect on the extent to which we can experience energy abundance. Skilful design of solar systems on our properties and other premises, enables us to navigate a path through changing utility tariffs such as “time of use” and “demand charges”. Shortfalls in energy could perhaps be accommodated for by community based RE ownership.

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