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.