The long-established German premium battery storage maker Sonnenbatterie says Australia is now its biggest market outside Europe and sales in November were more than double the previous monthly record.
Sonnen, which only formally entered the Australian market a year ago, but which remains the world’s market leader, sits at the more expensive end of the market, with a 10kW battery storage system, capable of delivering 20kWh, costing around $20,000-$25,000 including installation.
Technical development manager James Sturch says sales in the first half of the year in Australia totalled around 250 units, giving it around a 13 per cent market share, behind LG Chem, GCL and about equal footing with Tesla. (See graph above).
In November, however, demand surged, with installations more than double any of its preceding months. So, much so, says Sturch, that Australia is now the biggest market for the company outside of its home market. (Other companies such as LG Chem, GCL, Tesla, Redflow and Enphase have also reported strong sales and interest as premium feed in tariffs expire).
One Step Of The Grid caught up with Sturch at the installation of a 10kW Sonnen battery at the upmarket Bathhouse B&B in Newrybar, just outside Byron Bay on the NSW far north coast. It is the company’s first 3-phase installation in NSW, and follows on from the first in Australia late last month in Victoria.
The battery storage installation will store the output from two 10kW solar arrays installed previously, and should mean that the B&B will be able to self-consume up to 80 per cent of its output.
Sonnen also comes with its own smart control devices that . Sturch says that while the warranty is for 10,000 cycles or 10 years, the battery is designed for a 20 year life. Given that, the actual operating cost per used kilowatt hour is 14c/kWh.
Think about that for a moment. Add in a premium solar product for around 10c-12c/kWh, and users can already install solar and storage for the same price as the grid – as Bruce Mountain has already pointed out is the case in South Australia.
Little wonder, then, that the CSIRO and Energy Networks Australia came out with such a bullish report this week, suggesting that up to half of Australia’s electricity needs will be met with local generation – mostly household and business rooftop solar – by 2050.
Some say even this forecast is too conservative. (i.e. it will happen much quicker). With these prices, and with anticipated further price falls, it is hard to argue against that.
Patrick Halliday, from local installers Juno Energy, says the market is confused and looking for direction. But many consumers are doing a lot of research, learning lessons from solar PV boom and the risks of cheap production, and are looking for quality components.
“I think people are prepared for pay that little bit extra up front, knowing the quality is there. And as a local installer, that helps me sleep well at night, knowing we don’t have to worry about it.”
Halliday says the attraction for a system for a B&B like Bathhouse is its ability to respond to various consumption patterns, with guests unlikely to time and program their electricity consumption in the way a household might.
Sturch says the northern rivers area of NSW is a “bit of a hot spot” for the company, given the local demographics, and their interests in renewables, self consumption, and their interest in energy security.
“People are voting with their wallets for clean energy, efficiency and energy security.” Others, particularly retirees, just want to lock in their costs of electricity, to hedge against any unexpected future rises.
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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