The competition in the nascent battery storage market continues to intensify, with South Korean appliance manufacturers LG Chem launching a new 6.4kWh battery storage system that approaches the key $1,000/kWh mark.
The new battery storage system is being made available to consumers in the next few weeks, and follows the release into the Australian market of AU Optronics, promoted by AGL Energy, and rival offerings from Samsung, Enphase, Panasonic and SMA.
But the LG Chem system is already bringing costs down at the top end of the market – matching the assumed pricing of the much vaunted Tesla Powerwall, with the advantage that it is actually in the market.
LG’s Chem Residential Energy Storage Unit (RESU) 6.4kWhr battery is similar in size, shape and capacity, to the Tesla offering, and is expected to last 15 to 20 years, or at least 6,000 cycles. It is being offered in Australia at $A6,898. The first supplies have arrived in Australia via wholesalers Solar Juice.
LG Chem, in its blurb to installers, says it expect the units to have a retail price of a bit more than $1000 per kW/h ex GST plus inverter solution. “The cost curve will come down over time,” it says.
The units can be upgraded to a total of 12.8kWh with 3.2kWh expansion units. LG Chem says these are expected to be slightly more than 50% of the RESU 6.4Ex price.
Jeff Wehl, from Brisbane-based Ecoelectric, says the technology will easily defy grid costs with a typical cost per kWhr of around 15 cents over 15 years.
He says that a combined package of 5kW of solar panels (Trina), a 6.4kWh LG Chem System, and the associated SMA inverter and home energy mamagement systems will be offered for around $24,000. That equates to electricity at 18c/kWh – well below grid costs (although not including the network connection).
It’s an offering that would suit large power consumers (say 25kWh a day). But the end result is they will use all the power the solar system produces and import as little as 1kWh a day.
“The big difference for Australia is that LG’s unit is available now and it’s certification for use with many inverters is known,” Wehl says of the competition with Tesla and other manufacturers.
“Tesla’s (offering) is sold out until at least mid-2016 and many questions remain about how it can be effectively integrated with grid and renewable energy sources.”
Wehl says the LG Chem RESU can be used as both a hybrid and or off-grid solution and allows for high output with extremely long life spans, which are backed by trusted warranties.
Markus Lambert, from LG Solar, says another important development with the advent of cost effective battery storage market is the rising efficiency in solar modules.
Until recently, the standard module would have a capacity of 250 or 270 watts. This is now increase to 320 watts and 350 watts and will soon get to 400watts.
That means that while most Australian households had natural size limitations of around 5kW for their arrays, the potential was there to go far beyond that.
“There is value to the roof space.” That will be critical in adding battery storage to account for much of the house’s electricity needs, and to ensure the solar system can meet the demands of a plug in electric vehicle.
“EVs only make sense if driven by renewables,” he says. “So people will look at solar and storage for electric cars. So the rooftop now has to provide for consumption in day, and at night, and for the electric car,
And while he says the battery storage market is still in its “early adopter” phase and the pricing is not ready for the mass market, ther is room for large reductions in price as volumes drive competition and efficiencies.
Giles Parkinson is founder and editor of One Step Off The Grid, and also edits and founded Renew Economy and The Driven. He has been a journalist for 35 years and is a former business and deputy editor of the Australian Financial Review.
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