Solar Grid Battery Storage Systems

Lately there have been lots of people in the solar industry getting excited about batteries. We’ve also seen an increased number of enquiries about solar battery storage options. With solar feed in tariffs around 8c/kWh in most Australian states, selling power back to the grid is no longer the flavour of the month. Self-consumption is now where it’s at. If you can use solar to offset the cost of paying 32c/kWh for electricity from your retailer, it’s worth four times as much to you as selling it to the grid. Enter battery storage. What if you could store excess energy in batteries rather than exporting it at a low rate?

Solar Battery Backup

The theory goes, shift as much of your electricity consumption as possible to during the day and use solar to power it. Install a battery bank to store any excess solar energy, which can then be drawn on during the evening and at times during the day when the solar isn’t providing enough grunt.

You’re benefitting on a number of levels:

  1. Saving yourself from selling your valuable, clean, green, sunshine power to the wicked electricity company.
  2. Reducing the need to buy dirty, expensive, coal fired brown power from the electricity retailer when the sun goes down.
  3. You are also blackout proofing your home, by providing a uninterruptable power supply (UPS)
  4. You also get a fuzzy feeling by becoming more independent from the power company and doing your bit for the environment as well as helping Australia speed up the process of moving away from fossil fuels.

It all sounds great doesn’t it?

Certainly there are a lot of benefits that battery technology can provide, but you need to weigh it all up and ask yourself “why do I want batteries?” If you want batteries solely to try and save money by reducing your solar energy export and reducing what you are buying from the grid, unfortunately, at this point in time,  in most cases that’s probably not going to happen. The upfront cost of putting in a battery storage system for most people is generally cost prohibitive. Let’s say you’ve already got a solar system and you want to tack on a small battery bank and inverter/charger to manage the batteries and supply of power to your home, for a decent small system you’re probably looking at around $17,000 as a minimum outlay. Without doing the sums it’s going to take a long time to recoup that outlay through savings on your electricity bill and you’ll need to take into account the 7-15 year life expectancy of the batteries.

Batteries

So, what’s all the fuss about? Well, first of all electricity prices have been going up, and probably aren’t going down, so that will help to make the battery option look more attractive in the future. Battery technology is also improving rapidly, with more electric cars it is expected that new technologies such as Lithium alternatives will soon be cheaper per/kWh of storage provided. There are many that are predicting the cost- benefit tables will turn over the next few years and place battery storage as a game changer for the renewable energy industry. If battery storage becomes more cost competitive, it should enable more solar to be rolled out on a larger scale by helping to smooth out the intermittency and variability of renewable energy generation.

So even though the price can put some off, there are other reasons that people want to move towards battery storage. Particularly if your property is prone to blackouts, having an uninterruptable power supply (UPS) can be a huge benefit, the value of a battery system can then take on whole new value, particularly in the case of say a cool room with valuable perishable products. Other people are just getting sick of being treated badly by their electricity company and want more independence, with some going to the extreme of disconnecting and going totally off grid just to get away from ‘the system’.

There are also potentially some benefits for the electricity grid if more storage capacity is integrated. It can enable the peak load demand to be shifted and smoothed out, for example on a hot day when everyone turns their air conditioning on, the storage could be drawn on by the home owner rather than placing that demand on the grid. There is even talk of a system where electricity companies could draw on your dispatchable storage (and pay you for it) to help supply demand when it’s needed. In fact Vector, a NZ based electricity provider has actually opted to invest in subsidised solar battery storage units for homes over upgrading the network infrastructure, as a cost effective alternative. California is also looking to install 1.325GW of energy storage by 2020 across a range of storage mediums. They obviously see the benefits that storage can provide, decentralising the network and helping to integrate more renewables are just a couple.

For more info on Solar Grid Battery Storage Systems or Off-grid Solar please give us a call on 1300 931 929 or for more info click here.

 

 

2013 Sustainable House Day

Green Energy Options is supporting the Sustainable House Day again this year.

Coming up on Sunday September 8th, it is a fantastic day where people across the country open their homes to share their ideas on sustainable living.

We are sponsoring both the Geelong Sustanability Group and Surf Coast Energy Group who do a great job running the day. I’ll actually be opening up my home in Torquay as an example of a low cost energy efficient home, with solar power, solar hot water, double glazing and water tank just to name a few of it’s features.

It’s certainly a great chance to see what people are up to in the sustainable living space, so lock September 8th in your diary and get along to Sustainable House Day 2013.

Geelong Sustainable House Day Poster

Geelong Sustainable House Day Poster

Keeping in the solar loop

Solar power and renewable energy industries have been growing quickly over the last few years. With this fast growth comes fast change and it can sometimes be difficult to keep up with the improvements in technology, price variations, government policy shifts and industry news.

Looking at solar photovoltaics (PV) pricing in particular, it’s been dropping so quickly that if you looked at it three months ago, your information is probably out of date. Even the most optimistic forecasts for solar module prices haven’t predicted the rate at which they have decreased over the last few years. Many of the price decreases have been caused by an oversupply of panels worldwide, with many new manufacturers coming online in China and some companies having to sell their product at less than cost to be competitive. Now with the Australian dollar dropping and panel manufacturers trying to build back profit into their businesses, we are expecting panel prices in the short term could go up.

Anglesea Solar system

Green Energy Options understand that many of you are interested in staying in the loop with the latest news in the solar industry, so we are about to launch a bimonthly newsletter. We will try to keep it relevant, with prizes, solar news, energy efficiency tips and the latest in government/industry changes. You can sign up to our newsletter here.

In Addition to our newsletter you can keep up with the latest news by liking our Facebook page. Also check out our TOP 5 Solar & Renewable Energy News sites here.

 

Solar lighting up East Timor

Giving the gift of light

East Timor Solar

Green Energy Options is helping East Timorese Communities light up with Solar

East Timor is one of the poorest countries on earth. Many regions rely on candles or kerosene lamps for light and firewood for cooking. There is little electricity infrastructure and many communities are without electricity.

Green Energy Options teams up with the Alternate Technology Association’s (ATA), International Projects Group (IPG) to donate a solar panel to an East Timorese Community for each system that we sell here in Australia. The ATA, IPG has been operating in East Timor since 2001 and has helped to power more than 1000 homes, community centers and schools and hospitals.

By providing light and electricity to those in poverty, we are helping to increase education opportunities, grow job prospects and improve health issues like breathing in kerosene fumes.

For more information give us a call on 1300 931 929

Or visit http://www.ata.org.au/international-projects-group/

ATA member logo

Solar PV – Energy Payback

More often than not I get asked about financial payback periods for grid-connect photovoltaic (PV) solar systems, but recently a couple of people have raised the question about the energy payback period of solar PV. One of the suggestions put to me was that solar panels don’t generate enough electricity in their lifetime to offset the energy that was taken to produce them in the first place. This is a bit of a myth and totally incorrect of course, but it’s a point I’d like to clear up. [Read more…]