Energy 'megashift' coming to Australia – first stop, solar households

The energy storage “megashift” expected to hit the Australian electricity market inside of the next 10 years will not be led by utilities installing large-scale battery systems to help smooth supply on an increasingly distributed and renewable energy network, but by solar households, looking for more value from their rooftop PV systems.
solar-rooftopsA new report released on Monday by ARENA has forecast a dramatic shift to energy storage adoption – and particularly the adoption of battery technologies – driven by demand, necessity and a downward trajectory on costs that could see lithium-ion batteries 60 per cent cheaper in less than five years, and flow batteries 40 per cent cheaper.
Currently, says energy consultancy AECOM, the most relevant cost-effective applications for energy storage technologies in Australia include facilitating renewables in off-grid, fringe-of-grid markets, and behind-the-meter applications, which can capture a range of energy storage benefits.
But while supply-side energy storage – that used by network operators to balance supply and demand and avoid costly new-build infrastructure – could be considered an “inevitable” part of this trend, the report says it will be the end-user – the 13 per cent (and rising) of Australian households with rooftop solar – who drives the first major wave of uptake.
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“One of the largest markets for energy storage systems (in Australia) will be the end-user market, which looks to pair storage systems with rooftop solar PV,” the report says.
“PV can be coupled with storage to maximise usage behind-the-meter and ensure that PV generated during the day can be stored and used during the peak periods.
“This model is currently valuable for consumers because it reduces export of excess solar to the grid. Instead, the locally generated electricity can be used behind-the-meter, offsetting electricity purchased from the grid (which can be three to five times more expensive than standard export tariffs).
“This is the largest and most tangible revenue stream ($/kWh) available to storage projects in the current market as well as in the foreseeable future,” the report says.
Interestingly, the report notes – and the table below illustrates – that what makes the end-user market so attractive is that it is the only one that can obtain economic value created from other market segments.
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For example, behind-the-meter energy storage installations can provide value for network management (whether intended or not), by smoothing out the problems of reverse-flow and localised voltage issues that can accompany high penetration of embedded solar PV.
Solar PV also typically reduces total energy throughput without proportionally impacting peak load, adds the report, which leads to lower utilisation of network assets.
Screen Shot 2015-08-03 at 1.36.01 pmThis “shared value” across the network is something that utilities in other countries are already looking into, like Vector in New Zealand, which has just announced its second round of solar plus storage giveaways, offering 3kW PV systems along with a Tesla Powerwall battery to another 130 households, community groups and schools.
As reported on One Step sister site, RenewEconomy, the strategy has been used by Vector, in large part, to gauge the performance of the Tesla Powerwall and how household battery storage fits into its network strategy.

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