Australia Leads Energy Storage Boom


Amid the craze that has been battery storage for solar energy, Australia looks set to lead the way.

The country has been named in a group of eight that are set to undertake significant structures in the storage of solar energy, which will see market increase exponentially by 2030. Similarly, to the growth of the solar industry from the year 2000 to 2015, the next 13 years are expected to follow in much the same way with the installation and use of batteries to store energy from solar panels.

In the group of eight countries leading the charge are South Korea, Australia, United Kingdom, Germany, India, Japan, China and the United States. A significant number of other countries around the world are also contributing significantly now, and influencing this boom. Collectively, these eight countries will account for more than 70% of the world’s energy storage, contributing immensely to renewable energy projects.

As a bonus to consumers, and the driving force for the boom, prices in battery storage are expected to decrease, making it more affordable for homeowners and companies alike to make the installation. Currently the cost of installing a battery to an existing solar system is not viable because it is unlikely to have paid for itself in energy savings before the system is out of warranty. As more products and services become available, and benefits from governments and energy providers increase, prices of battery systems and installations will decrease, making it more worthwhile for existing solar system owners to add a battery.

For those people looking to install a new solar system, however, will see much greater benefits. Bloomberg Energy Finance recently released a forecast on Energy Storage around the world, and discovered that it expects the storage capacity to be at 125GW/305GWh by the year
2030, which is a significant benefit to the prospect of using more renewable energy. They also predict a reduction in costs of 10% by 2020, then approximately 7% each year until 2030.

Much of this information is based on behind-the-meter (BTM) storage, which is the generation and storage of energy from solar panels for the use on the property on which the energy was generated. For example, if a home has a solar system and a battery capacity to store that energy, and then use it themselves, that is BTM storage. It takes the home off the state grid and using their own generated power as much as possible.

In Australia it is estimated that behind-the-meter storage in homes and businesses will provide approximately 90% of the country’s stored energy by 2030, which will see the reliance on grid-supplied energy (from production factories) diminish pointedly. This is the largest
contribution of any country. This forecast, however, is based on the assumption that battery systems, and installations, will make that decrease in price, driving residential/business sales up. Currently the market is dominated by grid-supplied energy, and the number of battery connected solar systems is quite minimal.

There are still many factors that may keep prices of battery systems high in Australia, however, including a proposal to make energy storage mandated as well as a policy by the government introducing synchronous generation policies.

The outlook, while positive, remains uncertain due to potential reforms coming into play. For the most part, however, it appears Australia is on track to be leaders in the renewable energy domain across the world.


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Understanding Batteries

Off-Grid Systems

For some households a battery system can be of great benefit and minimise a home’s reliance on the grid. However, it’s important to understand for a battery to be useful your solar system needs to be generating excess energy for the battery to store, which you can then use at night or when the sun is not out.

When selecting a battery, you’ll want to invest in a system that is most suited to your home and can drive the best return on investment (ROI). Despite a larger upfront cost, a higher quality battery may significantly increase your ROI.

    Battery systems start from $6,000 and costs can vary greatly based on the following factors:

  1. Cycle Life-Time

    The number of times a battery can fully charge and discharge.

  2. Battery Power (kW)

    How fast it can be charged or discharged.

  3. Storage Capacity (kWh)

    The maximum amount of energy a battery system can store.

  4. Battery Management System (BMS)

    An electronic ‘smart’ system that gathers data and manages the battery ensuring it does not overload or operate outside of its safe functioning zone..

  5. Inverter

    Battery systems require their own inverter if your solar system does not have a hybrid inverter.

  6. 'All-In-One Unit’

    A system which includes the battery, BMS and an inverter all in one unit.

  7. Warranty

    Length of time or cycles the battery system is under guarantee.

  8. Blackout Protection/Backup

    It’s important to note this is not a common feature of a battery system and could cost thousands of dollars to include. Blackout protection not only requires additional components but also a specialised installation and rewiring. For grid-connected homes, the cost for blackout protection can outweigh the benefit.

Additionally, if your purpose for adding battery is to go Off-Grid and become completely independent from the grid you will need to ensure your solar system can generate enough energy to power your home and your battery system is large enough to store this energy. For homes in metro areas going Off-grid is not cost effective and is only recommended for those in remote areas with limited access to the grid. Off-grid solar systems with battery start at approximately $30,000.

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