A new report claims that new battery technology could make it possible for Australian homes to generate and store solar-powered energy more inexpensively than traditional electricity suppliers by 2018.
A report by The Climate Council, a non-government organisation, found that improvements in battery technology may make solar energy cheaper than purchasing it within the next three years and could allow half of the nation to live “off the grid”.
Australia already boasts the highest number of household solar panel use in the world. About 15 percent of homes contain solar panels. This is roughly double the rate in Belgium, which is the second highest usage.
Solar power usage has lead to a large savings of electricity for the 1.4 million households who have installed them, but only about 500 people currently have batteries to store the leftover solar power.
The Climate Council claims that the cost of producing lithium-ion batteries will fall “dramatically” in the coming years and that each battery’s capacity will grow 50-fold within the decade.
The report states “By 2018, going off-grid by installing battery storage could be cost-competitive with staying connected as the price of battery storage falls and grid electricity remains expensive.”
“Together with rooftop solar, battery storage presents an opportunity for Australian households to use a much greater proportion of the solar photovoltaic electricity they generate and minimise the need to purchase expensive electricity from the grid.”
The Climate Council report predicts that half of Australian households will adopt a AU$10,000 battery system with a payback on initial outlay of 10 years. The phasing out of FITs across Australia is convincing a growing number of homeowners to invest in battery storage technology in order to maximize the value of their solar power technology.
“Anyone who has PV on their roof knows they’re paid a fraction, maybe a tenth, of what it costs them to buy power off the grid,” Claims Andrew Stock of the Climate Council. “If they have a tool, a battery, that can allow them to store the surplus power during the day and use it at night, it means they’re going to get greater control than they already have over their power bill.”
The report also found that this new technology has some of the existing network operators nervous, with some companies actively altering how they price power in an attempt to discourage the adoption of the combination, solar power and storage, a move Stock called “perverse”.
“Battery systems, coupled with PV, can actually help networks get much better use out of their assets by smoothing out the demand on the grid. That should mean that network companies don’t need to invest anywhere near as much at adding capacity in the future, and they get better use of their existing capacity.”