According to a new report by the Climate Council, pairing solar panels with home battery storage will most likely be the most cost effective way to harness electricity within three years.

The environmental not-for-profit council discovered that battery storage will “revolutionise” the way Australians access electricity, which will allow Australian homes to become more independent of the traditional electricity grid.

The key findings of the report are:

  • By 2018, going “off-grid” could be cost competitive with traditional grid
  • Coupling solar panels with home battery storage could be cheapest option
  • Half of all Australian households tipped to adopt solar
  • Switch to solar expected to accelerate as battery cost drops

With battery storage capacity expected to grow massively within ten years, the report learned that going off-grid could be cost-competitive with staying connected as early as 2018. Slowly feed-in tariffs are being phased out and as grid electricity becomes more expensive, Australia could possibly be the number one market for home battery storage by the same year.

“Anyone who has PV [photovoltaic cells] on their roof knows they’re paid a fraction – maybe a tenth – of what it costs them to buy power off the grid,” the Climate Council’s Andrew Stock said.

“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.”

In April, US-based technology and automotive company Tesla unveiled Powerwall, a cheap lithium ion battery, soon to be churned out on a massive scale in a giant factory being built in Nevada.

The battery is estimated, with add-ons, to cost about $9,200 AUD.

By 2020, the factory is expected to produce 35 gigawatt hours (gWh) of lithium-ion battery storage each year, more than the entire worldwide production of the batteries in 2013.

Tesla, along with another of the world’s biggest home battery manufacturers, EnPhase, has announced Australia will be its first market.

Half of all households to adopt solar: report

The Climate Council also found half of all households were predicted to adopt solar systems with battery storage, with the market potentially growing to $24 billion.

In May, AGL, which owns Victoria’s biggest brown coal generator, Loy Yang, announced it would market its own battery.

“It’s really important that the traditional players in the industry see this as an opportunity instead of a threat, because if they look at this as an opportunity they’ll be thinking ‘how do they leverage this technology into their businesses?'” Mr Stock said.

“If they see it only as a threat, that will put back Australia from potentially being a leader in the uptake for up to a decade, and I’m not sure we as a country these days can afford to put ourselves in a position where we’re a laggard, when we could be a leader.”

Battery providing ‘zero dollar’ power bills

Amanda McKenzie from the Climate Council said while that would be a key factor driving the take-up of battery units, people also wanted to “do the right thing”.

“People who are using solar on their roofs are people who are trying to beat their electricity bills; it’s people with mortgages, pensioners. That same group of people will be a key market for battery storage,” Ms McKenzie said.

“We know that we live in a very sunny country, one of the windiest countries in the world, and that climate change is a huge issue.

“So people are motivated both by the price, and by helping the environment, so it’s a win-win.”

 

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