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Australians charged up for a battery future: surveys

Most Australians expect batteries which store renewable electricity to help them overcome the rising cost of their power bills in the future, according to a new report.

A new poll by Reachtel just published found that 74% of people in Australia expect household batteries to be commonplace in homes in the next decade and, when asked what is the key motivation for adding a battery to rooftop solar power systems, over half said it was to “reduce power bills”.

And as governments grapple with developing strategies for maintaining reliable energy supplies and attempts to give users relief from rising power bills, another new report from solar consultancy SunWiz has found that more than 7000 home battery systems were installed across Australia in the first half of 2017 – exceeding the 6500 sales recorded for all of 2016.

The Reachtel poll also found that more than a third (38%) of the respondents said they already own rooftop solar and 68% of them said they would consider adding a battery to their solar power set-up.

“Australians love rooftop solar, and most now expect home battery storage to be as commonplace as dishwashers in our homes in a decade,” says Amanda McKenzie, chief executive, the Climate Council.

“Rising energy prices and a lack of a federal energy plan are driving many people to take back control of energy.  We’re getting smart to the fact that our energy system is changing.”

As well as the acceptance for smart energy storage in the home, the Reachtel poll also explored the public’s understanding of the role of large-scale energy storage, like the world’s largest battery being rolled out in South Australia by Tesla.  The majority of Aussies polled (55%) thought large-scale batteries like this would be commonplace in a decade too.

And more than half of those polled (52%) now understand that large-scale energy storage enables wind and solar to provide power 24/7, on demand, while when asked what is the key benefit that large-scale batteries deliver, Australians said:

  • 25% making our energy system more reliable;
  • 24% making our electricity cheaper; and
  • 19% making our system more efficient.

“Battery storage actually solves many problems — from storing excess energy, smoothing out spikes in demand and re-dispatching power during peak load times — to improving reliability. It is encouraging to see that the public already has a solid grasp of the vital role of storage for a clean, affordable energy system,” 40-year energy veteran, and Climate Councillor, Andrew Stock, said.

“The combination of rising energy prices and the plunging cost of lithium-ion batteries have created a tipping point for Australia’s use of battery storage,” Stock added.

And SunWiz claims in its 2017 Mid-Year Battery Report, that household batteries are “flying off the shelf twice as fast this year” as Australians look for new ways to control their power use and protect against price hikes.

SunWiz says analysts predict the market will treble in 2017, with more than 20,000 battery installations by year’s end on the back of even stronger sales in the months to come.

It also reveals the cost of batteries has fallen marginally (5%) since January, primarily due to increased competition among wholesalers but says that the payback time for customers buying a solar-storage system is now considerably quicker in most parts of the country due to major power price hikes.

SunWiz founder and report author Warwick Johnston said anyone in Australia was now able to pay back the cost of a small battery (5 kilowatt hours) within a decade, while those living in Adelaide and Brisbane enjoy the “best bang for buck” with payback time as low as six years.

 “We are already seeing extraordinary growth in the Australian battery market despite little change in the price point, with a doubling of the market already appearing locked in this year on top of a 13-fold increase in 2016,” Johnston said.

“Solar and battery installers say they are being inundated with inquiries, but many people are delaying purchase until the price point drops. Once we hit a tipping point in payback time, the sales of household batteries will skyrocket – becoming as common as the backyard swimming pool is today in the years ahead.”

The report also found:

  •     New South Wales is the number one battery hotspot in the country, being home to 21% of installations taking place so far this year. Queensland was a close second with 18%, followed by Victoria (12%).
  •     Growth in industrial-sized storage projects is already soaring, with 156 megawatt hours of storage slated for this year – dwarfing the 11MWh installed in 2016.
  •     The majority of household batteries are being sold in combination with a rooftop solar system, rather than to customers who already have solar at home.

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Peter Dinham

Peter Dinham is a co-founder of iTWire and a 35-year veteran journalist and corporate communications consultant. He has worked as a journalist in all forms of media – newspapers/magazines, radio, television, press agency and now, online – including with the Canberra Times, The Examiner (Tasmania), the ABC and AAP-Reuters. As a freelance journalist he also had articles published in Australian and overseas magazines. He worked in the corporate communications/public relations sector, in-house with an airline, and as a senior executive in Australia of the world’s largest communications consultancy, Burson-Marsteller. He also ran his own communications consultancy and was a co-founder in Australia of the global photographic agency, the Image Bank (now Getty Images).