ZCell solar battery storage system will save consumers money and help drive down price of electricity

Source: Featured in The Courier Mail Thursday 31/03/2016

IT’S A small rectangular box designed by a local company that could ultimately help Queenslanders thumb their noses at power companies.

But a new home battery storage system called ZCell launched yesterday by Brisbane-based tech company Redflow comes at a price.

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By Glen Norris

Consumers are unlikely to get much change out of $20,000 for the battery system that allows people to use solar power captured during the day to cut electricity costs during peak periods.

With power bills soaring and more people putting solar panels on their roofs, Redflow executive chairman Simon Hackett expects strong interest in the system that can deliver up to 10kWh of power daily. That is enough to meet the power needs of most average homes.

Mr Hackett ultimately envisages a series of community micro-grids linked to the mains that will allow people to trade power with neighbours or sell power back to the generators. This will help drive down the price of electricity, with the batteries reducing demand during peak time that currently results in high prices.

Families are paying nearly $600 a year more than they should be for power so inefficient electricity networks can deliver “super-profits’’ to the State Government, a new study has found.

Mr Hackett said power companies were unlikely to go out of business anytime soon, with people advised to remain on the grid in case rainy weather reduced solar power production.

“It is like having a rainwater tank,” he said. “When you use all the water in the tank, you can go back on the mains.”

Mr Hackett said that unlike lead acid and lithium batteries that must keep some capacity in reserve, the ZCell uses technology that means it can discharge 100 per cent of its power.

Redflow is not the only home battery system on the market, with US battery giant Tesla launching its Powerwall system last year. A 7kWh Powerwall system can be installed from about $13,000.

Mr Hackett said that while Tesla produced a cheaper system, it had only about half the power capacity.

Overall, batteries were set to come down in price, he added.