What do you do if you’re a global solar and energy tech company that has carefully timed its move into the Australian home battery market, only to find prohibitive new installations standards foiling the plan?
Hit the floor, of course.
It’s not a trend, exactly, but at the huge All-Energy Australia conference and exhibition in Melbourne last week, One Step Off The Grid came across two major battery makers launching in to the Australia market with a floor mounted product.
The first – which you can read about in detail here – was the German-based Senec. The second, was Q Cells, which told One Step that it would be offering a floor mounted version of its new Q.Home hybrid battery system to Australian customers.
As reported here, solar cell manufacturer Hanwha Q Cells launched its “fully wrapped” Q.Home solar and storage package on the Australian market earlier this month, offering a package of solar panels, a hybrid inverter, and lithium-ion battery storage of up to 12kWh.
The new product, called Q.Home, was previewed almost exactly two years ago at All-Energy Australia 2017 (when it was launched in Europe), and V2 launched this week as a plug-and-play solar and storage solution covered by a single warranty from an increasingly big name in the local industry.
Last week, the company followed up its launch with a big presence at the All-Energy exhibition, to showcase some of the capabilities of the Q.Home energy system, and stake its claim on the Australian storage market.
Like SolarEdge, Q Cells believes Australia’s home battery market is poised to boom, driven as much by a growing consumer sustainability focus as from a desire to rein in energy costs, maximise solar self-consumption, and to “never go dark again” should the grid somehow fail.
But new home battery installation rules published this month by Standards Australia have threatened to put a dampener on things, with complicated – and some say prohibitive – guidelines on fire proofing and safe placement of wall mounted home systems.
*Read about what Australia’s new battery installation standard means for you, here…
Q Cells – which markets its Q.Home hybrid battery predominantly as a wall-mounted system (picture in image above) – is neither immune to the new battery standard, nor entirely thrilled with the effect it might have on the market. But it does have some wriggle room around it.
“I think consumers are already burdened with heavy initial capital investment, and then if you tell them, well, because of the policy now, we need to fire-proof your garage and that’s going to cost another x-thousand dollars, that’s not going to sound at all attractive,” said Myung Shim, Q Cells Australia key account manager, in an interview at All-Energy.
“Which is why a lot of industry players are saying it may even kill the storage business in Australia; that maybe this prolonged PV-only trend will last a bit longer.
“But actually, with Q.Home, we are prepared for it, because with the accessory of the floor mounting, you don’t need to fire proof (as long as the battery is sited 30cm away from any wall adjoining a habitable room),” Shim said.
“So that’s a very attractive package that not many people yet know, but that’s an option certainly at an added cost, that we provide with our Q.Home system.
“Because we have been working on this solution for a good three years, almost, and we’ve been waiting and biding our time until the market is ripe enough to launch.
“So here in Australia we’re very much focused on residential storage.”
“With its back-up function, and the scalability from 4 to 8 to 12kWh, Q.Home fits most consumption patterns of different households.
“And the fact that it’s hybrid means you don’t need to add another inverter as most systems require you to, which means less money and improved simplicity for installers, too.”
Shim says that Q Cells expects the Australian market to evolve in a similar way to the European market, where “every other solar installation” has battery storage included, due to high levels of distributed solar and a progressive consumer mind-set known for embracing new technology ahead of the global curve.
In 2020, the company expects up to 15 per cent of its residential solar installations in Australia – where it claims to have a roughly 13 per cent share of the residential solar market – to wrap in the Q.Home battery solution.
“In 2020, we are hoping maybe we could do around 10-15 per cent of our solar supply with the storage,” Shim told One Step, noting that this year Q Cells expects to supply a total of 250MW solar modules in Australia.
“We think that’s realistic and quite conservative number.”
Another point of note about the Q.Home hybrid battery is that – unlike its slightly higher priced competitors, Tesla and Sonnen – the wall-mounted version is actually designed to be installed on the outside of homes (although that doesn’t stop it from having to undertake extra fire proofing when installed on a wall adjoining a habitable room).
And on price, Shim said Q Cells is aiming at somewhere below the Tesla Powerwall 2 and SonnenBatterie, but above the LG Chem Resu battery.