Power to the people as solar storage heats up


by The Daily Telegraph, ANTHONY KEANE

PRODUCING your own power is getting much cheaper for households as prices of solar
energy storage systems drop quickly.

A battery storage system that cost $20,000 two years ago is now $10,000, while solar panels that cost more than $20,000 five years ago today sell for about $6000.

The shrinking cost of home renewable energy systems has helped compensate people for the disappearance of generous government feed-in tariffs, and experts believe prices will continue to fall. ZEN Energy founder and director of innovation Richard Turner says energy storage systems – which first hit the market in 2012 – now cost less than $9000. “Many of the people we were speaking with about energy storage over recent years said ‘call me back when it’s under $10,000’. Well, now it is and we’re calling back,” he says.

“Energy storage is one of the most exciting technological developments of our lifetime
but until now has been cost prohibitive for the majority of householders. “With solar panels and battery storage, an average home could save hundreds on quarterly electricity bills and
protect themselves from future energy price rises. ZEN expects the market to take off over next few months in much the same way solar did many years ago.” Buyologists founder Mike Chalmers says that the rapid growth of home battery storage systems is a “total gamechanger” for energy markets across the country. “These systems put the power back in the hands of the customer, literally. Rather than drawing power from the grid when your solar panels aren’t generating electricity at night, you can use the power you’ve stored earlier, so the customer is in full control,” he says. Australia has the world’s highest uptake of residential solar systems per person. It’s estimated that 15 per cent of households now have them – in South Australia the figure is 29 per cent. Chalmers says experts estimate up to 2.4 million east coast homes will have battery storage systems within the next few years as costs fall fast. “Morgan Stanley predict battery storage costs could fall as much as 40 per cent in the next two years, with the average cost of an installed 7kWh battery storage system falling from close to $10,000 to perhaps just over $5000 in that time,” he says.

Chalmers says US company Tesla’s batteries sold out quickly after pre-sales. “The new ZCell residential battery, developed by Australian listed company Redflow, is another to now hit the market. “And the major energy retailers are all quickly getting their own storage systems to market as well, to make sure they get a piece of the action of this massive new market.”