Australian news, and some related international items

Rapid fall expected in price of solar plus battery storage for South Australia

S.A. network says solar plus battery storage to cost just 15c/kWh, REneweconomy, By  on 28 March 2017 The price of rooftop solar and battery storage for household and business consumers will fall to just 15c/kWh within a few years, leading to a dramatic reshaping of the energy grid, according to a leading network operator. Rob Stobbe, the head of SA Power Networks, which operates the local network in South Australia, says rooftop solar has already fallen to around 5c/kWh for households and businesses. Continue reading

March 29, 2017 Posted by | solar, South Australia, storage | 2 Comments

Giles Parkinson on need for battery storage to be configured properly

Batteries not configured to remove demand peaks, network says[good graphs], REneweconomy. By  on 27 March 2017 SA Power Networks, currently running the largest residential battery storage trial in the country, says its early finding suggest that battery storage devices are not configured to help reduce network peaks. In fact, in some ways they may be making the situation worse.

SAPN last year installed 100 batteries in customer premises in the city of Salisbury, in what is the largest virtual power plant installed to date, and is now getting some early results from the three-year trial.

The most dramatic finding is represented in this graph below [on original] . It shows how solar affects grid demand and what happens when battery storage is added. Rather than smoothing out the peaks, it can actually make the “ramp up” periods more abrupt.

According to Mark Vincent, SAPN’s head of network investment strategy and planning, this is not a good outcome.

Vincent told RenewEconomy during a recent visit to SAPN’s innovation centre in Adelaide that it underlines the need for new algorithms to be put in place to change the behaviour of battery storage devices so it takes the peaks – both bottom and low……….

Battery storage will be crucial for the SA network, because the state has traditionally had the highest volatility, and with the introduction of more wind and solar, will reduce its dependence on traditional fossil fuel plants.

That leaves battery storage to play a crucial role in meeting peak demand and providing grid stability, and SAPN hopes that it will help offset further investment in new poles and wires or equipment upgrades.

Already, the state has 650MW of rooftop solar, accounting for nearly 6 per cent of its demand in 2015/16, and within a decade the output of rooftop solar is expected to be more than minimum demand in the state………

“To maximise the benefits of solar PV/battery installations, smarter algorithms in battery management software are needed to slow down the rate of charging of the batteries and their rate of energy discharge so we can lop off the demand and generation peaks.

“In turn, we need to make sure that our tariffs are designed to encourage battery vendors to configure their systems in this way, and so that customers will also see a benefit.

“Without those changes to the configuration of batteries so that they charge and discharge in smarter ways, widespread uptake of batteries has the potential to lead to inefficiencies that will require a significant response from us as distribution network managers.”

SAPN says that while it “doesn’t make financial sense” for most customers to invest in batteries just yet – contrary to some private estimates – it admits that prices are reducing rapidly.

“We think it’s inevitable that customers will invest more and more in battery systems. Our challenge is to make sure that they operate these systems in ways that reduce and don’t increase network costs to all customers.”

March 29, 2017 Posted by | South Australia, storage | Leave a comment

Victoria and South Australia embrace grid-scale storage for power reliability

Two Australian states embrace grid-scale storage for power reliability, Dive Brief:

  • Two Australian states are ramping up energy storage to address rising electricity costs and rolling blackouts, according to media reports.
  • In South Australia, the government says it will hold a competitive solicitation for a 100 MW battery storage installation and construct a 250 MW gas plant, according to Energy Storage News reports.
  • The state of Victoria is also investing $20 million in an effort to boost energy storage to 100 MW by the end of next year, ABC News reports.
Dive Insight:The government announcements come days after Tesla told South Australia officials that it could install a 100 MW battery system in 100 days that would solve the state’s power problems.

South Australia has been suffering from rolling blackouts brought about by high heat and a lack of baseload power. The situation has attracted developers like ZEN Energy and Tesla, who say that battery storage could go a long way toward integrating renewables into the state’s grid and solving grid instability problems.

South Australia officials also announced plans for a 250 MW gas-fired generator to act as backup for intermittent renewables.

Officials said the gas plant would be turned on only when power shortfalls are forecasted, according to ABC. A bill is reportedly in the works to give the state energy minister more control over power dispatch, after criticisms of the Australian grid operator stemming from the power outages.

Victoria, meanwhile, is looking at a range of energy storage solutions, including batteries, pumped hydro storage and solar thermal technology. The $20 million investment will come on top of a separate $5 million solicitation for a 20 MW energy storage system issued last month.

March 23, 2017 Posted by | South Australia, storage, Victoria | Leave a comment

Australian householders turning to energy independence with solar and battery storage

Households abandoning the grid have ‘lost faith’ , The Age, Brian Robins, 17 Mar 17  The federal government has been warned that the rise in spending on solar energy systems is clear evidence households have “lost faith” in their energy suppliers, as they move to get greater control over the cost of their electricity bill.

In its submission to the Finkel Review which is being conducted into the future security of the electricity market, Energy Consumers Australia said its research has highlighted the shift that is now emerging.

“While assumptions are often made that generous feed-in-tariffs and solar PV’s clean attributes have been the primary motivators for their uptake, our research indicates that the primary reasons consumers are investing in this technology is to manage consumption and gain control of costs. The desire for independence from the grid is a particularly strong driver for early interest in battery storage,” it says.

“We see this as a clear indication that consumers have lost faith in the traditional market’s capacity to deliver value for money, and are taking matters into their own hands.”

Energy Consumers Australia undertakes regular detailed surveys of household attitudes to their energy supplies and while most households are not actively engaged in the retail market for electricity, due to a variety of factors, as many as 1.5 million households have engaged by making a significant investment in solar rooftop photo voltaic systems, it said.

And even as the historically generous subsidies supporting the installation of these systems is being wound down, its research has found that a third of households are considering installing these systems over the next five years, with as many as 27 per cent considering installing battery storage systems. But these options are more limited for households which rent or live in accommodation which is unsuitable for the installation of these systems.

“This risks the costs of building and maintaining the [national electricity market] being increasingly recovered from a subset of consumers who are on lower incomes, haven’t been able to break into the housing market, or small businesses in commercial premises subject to investment decisions by owners,” it noted in its submission to the review.

Similarly, its community consultations have found more consumers want to be able to trade or share electricity at the local level…….

March 20, 2017 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, solar, storage | Leave a comment

Virtual power plant achievable within 5 years – AGL Energy’s Andy Vesey

‘Virtual power plant’ is here, says AGL Energy’s Andy Vesey, AFR, 17 Mar 17 Home storage batteries will be cheap enough within five years to make the “virtual power plant” achievable, revolutionising energy and making investment in traditional plant harder to justify, AGL Energy chief executive Andy Vesey says.

Mr Vesey said that batteries would be about the same $3500 price that AGL is charging 1000 Adelaide householders for its virtual power plant trial, a fraction of the $16,000 full price of the Sunverge batteries used in the trial. They could pay themselves off in about five years.

“It’s coming,” he told an American Chamber of Commerce lunch. He said grid scale batteries proposed by Tesla and others already offer value in the right circumstances.

Virtual power plants – “behind the meter” energy resources such as batteries, solar panels, software and smart thermometers managing power-hungry appliances – are one way to ease pressure on the grid and help prevent blackouts such as those plaguing South Australia. ….

Mr Vesey said on Friday that adding storage to solar homes was like adding refrigeration to agriculture, changing the way consumers interact with the power grid and the investment equation for energy companies….

He said when you put 1000 rooftop solar households with batteries together and control them in the cloud “you fundamentally have a 5 megawatt peaking plant on the edge of the grid. It changes everything”. ……

March 18, 2017 Posted by | solar, South Australia, storage | Leave a comment

New South Wales electricity prices make household solar and storage look good

Solar and storage boost? NSW households face 5c/kWh price rise By  on 17 March 2017 The continuing surge in New South Wales wholesale electricity costs – and in other states for that matter – is likely to add even more incentive for households and business to turn to rooftop solar and battery storage. NSW baseload futures prices for 2018 have jumped another $10/MWh to $115/MWh in the last two weeks, meaning that a rooftop solar system is cheaper than the wholesale price of the coal-fired grid, let alone retail prices which are more than twice as high.

Analysts at Morgan Stanley say that if the wholesale price increase was to be fully captured by energy retailers, then the retail price would need to rise by around 5c/kWh, or about 20-25 per cent.

This scale of rise, shocking as it would be, is unlikely to happen because most retailers will have a rolling hedge book that will mitigate part of the cost increase.

Still, Morgan Stanley expects that retail prices will still have to increase around 10 per cent from July 1, which would add at least 2c/kWh on to energy costs, which are currently 21c/kWh to 24c/kWh, not including hefty network charges of up to $1.50/day.

This should be yet another incentive for NSW households to invest in rooftop solar. The state trails most other states on solar penetration, with around 15 per cent of homes, compared to nearly 30 per cent in Queensland and South Australia.

And the fact that NSW retailers offer such a small amount on solar exports (most at around 6c/8c/kWh, with a couple of outliers on 12c/kWh) this should increase the attraction of battery storage.

NSW is already seen as the best state for battery storage because of the recent expiry of premium feed-in tariffs.

March 18, 2017 Posted by | New South Wales, solar, storage | Leave a comment

At least in the State of South Australia there is a plan for energy self sufficiency

At least there is a plan in South Australia, albeit one that will place its drive for self-sufficiency in conflict with the operation of the National Electricity Market.  

Provided there is decent backup power generation there shouldn’t be an issue with developing VPPs and new forms of energy storage so that they can be refined and more affordable in time. 

Role of batteries provides aspirational charge to energy debate , The Australian, 16 Mar 17  Technology reporter Sydney @chris_griffith Call it battery fetishism if you must, but batteries are going to play an even bigger role in power sources being tested in Australia. Take for example the virtual power plant concept which has gone live in South Australia.

A VPP comprises hundreds, maybe thousands, of homes each with solar panels where excess energy is stored in batteries. Instead of operating as separate entities, energy stored in those batteries is made available in unison to the grid at times of peak load or an outage.

An outside body such as an energy retailer co-ordinates the flow of battery power back to the grid. For the rest of the time, consumers self-manage their stored solar power. Continue reading

March 17, 2017 Posted by | South Australia, storage | Leave a comment

South Australian govt calls for battery storage offers within two weeks

S.A. wants first round battery storage offers within two weeks By  on 15 March 2017

The South Australia government has pressed the fast-forward button on its 100MW battery storage tender, announcing that expressions of interest for the country’s biggest battery storage installation are now open, and will close within two weeks. Continue reading

March 17, 2017 Posted by | politics, South Australia, storage | Leave a comment

Malcolm Turnbull should encourage Australia’s battery energy storage industry

Battery-makers on Turnbull’s Tesla chat: ‘Give Australian companies a fair go’
Industry wants more support from federal government now prime minister has ‘taken interest in the tweets of an American billionaire’,
Guardian, , 13 Mar 17Malcolm Turnbull should encourage Australia’s battery energy storage industry now he has “taken interest in the tweets of an American billionaire”, Zen Energy chairman Ross Garnaut says.

Garnaut was referring to Elon Musk, the billionaire co-founder of electric car giant Tesla, who tweeted that Tesla could solve the power shortage issue causing price spikes and blackouts in South Australia within 100 days by installing 100-300 megawatt hours of battery storage.

Turnbull subsequently tweeted that he had phoned Musk and enjoyed a “great, in-depth” conversation.

But Australian companies had been working on large battery projects for years, Garnaut said, including one by Zen Energy in the upper gulf of South Australia which it had discussed with the market. Continue reading

March 15, 2017 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, South Australia, storage | Leave a comment

Tesla batteries to the rescue for South Australia’s electricity system?

Greens say Elon Musk’s plan is a game changer Australian Greens Senator for South Australia Sarah Hanson-Young says Elon Musk’s proposal to solve South Australia’s energy crisis with battery storage is the game changer our state needs to switch back on.

“We live in the perfect state for wind and solar. Battery technology allows us to make hay while the sun shines, storing the power so we can use it when we want and need. While chairing a senate inquiry into battery storage, I’ve heard evidence that if 20,000 homes with solar panels had a battery as well, the load shedding that cut off the air conditioning when we needed it most last month wouldn’t have happened.

“This is the innovation Malcolm Turnbull promised when he declared he would be the ‘Innovation Prime Minister’

Elon Musk says his Tesla battery company could solve South Australia’s energy crisis in 100 days Luke Griffiths, Lauren Novak, The Advertiser March 11, 2017 TECH billionaire Elon Musk on Saturday confirmed he’s spoken personally with Jay Weatherill to discuss his company’s plans to build a battery farm to help SA solve its power woes – amid support from the Australian Greens, who say his plan to build a batter farm could be “game changer”.

Michio Kaku – Musk & Game Changing Tesla Powerwall Battery

March 13, 2017 Posted by | South Australia, storage | 1 Comment

Elon Musk in talks with Malcolm Turnbull on energy storage

Elon Musk, Malcolm Turnbull in talks on renewables after billionaire’s ‘100 days or it’s free’ pledge Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull says he has held a “great, in-depth discussion” with Elon Musk, after the billionaire tech entrepreneur offered to fix South Australia’s energy problems within 100 days.

On Friday, Mr Musk said energy storage could solve the state’s electricity problems with a Tesla battery farm, and work could be completed within 100 days, or it would be free.

He followed that up in talks with South Australia’s Premier Jay Weatherill, later tweeting that he was impressed by the State Government’s commitment to a “smart, quick solution”.

Twitter was again the preferred medium of communication on Sunday, with Mr Musk and Mr Turnbull swapping appreciative tweets after speaking for nearly an hour.

March 13, 2017 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, politics, storage | Leave a comment

Tesla’s energy storage could be the answer to South Australia’s electricity problems

Tesla’s offer: How SA’s power network could benefit from energy storage, ABC News,  By Michael Collett 11 Mar 17 South Australia’s energy network has been struggling of late — there were forced blackouts for tens of thousands of homes during a heatwave last month because there wasn’t enough power to meet demand.

But Tesla thinks it has a solution. The company’s billionaire boss Elon Musk says he could install a battery farm capable of fixing the system within 100 days of signing a contract.

It’s a suggestion that the Grattan Institute’s energy expert Tony Wood says should be taken seriously, but it’s not the only electricity storage option that’s available.

What’s the advantage of electricity storage? The idea is that energy storage technologies can take power during off-peak hours and put it back into the grid when it’s needed.

As well, wind and solar are intermittent sources of electricity generation, so this power needs to be stored if the grid is to rely entirely on renewables. (Keep in mind that South Australia already gets about 50 per cent of its energy from renewables, mostly wind and solar.)

One storage technology that’s getting a lot of press is Tesla’s Powerpack.

Tesla says this battery is “infinitely scalable” — that means a business could buy a single Powerpack so that it still has power during a blackout, while a city, state or country could install hundreds, thousands or even millions of them in order to support an entire grid.

In 2015, Musk said you’d be able to transition the United States to renewable energy with 160 million of them, and the entire world with 900 million……

March 13, 2017 Posted by | South Australia, storage | Leave a comment

Already cheaper than grid: – Solar and Storage

Solar and storage: LG Chem says it already cheaper than grid, REneweconomy, By  on 8 March 2017 One Step Off The Grid

LG Chem, the South Korean battery storage maker that has so far claimed the biggest share of the nascent Australian market, says that solar and battery storage is already beating grid power in most states.

The assessment by LG Chem follows similar analysis by private energy consultants, and suggests that the market for battery storage could be about to take off, even with looming threats of restrictions.

According to Jamie Allen, the marketing head in Australia for LG Chem, a 5kW rooftop solar system and a 10kWh battery storage device (such as LG Chem’s own 9.8kWh offering) can be purchased and installed for around $15,000.

Based on the assumed output of around 22kWh a day from the solar array, that makes the cost per kWh of solar power at around 22c/kWh over 10 years.

Given that most flat rate per kWh tariffs start at around 23c/kWh or 24c/kWh – even in NSW where there are high fixed network charges on top of that – the solar power is still on the money, although the battery storage is essential to ensure that much of that output is used directly, or stored for later use at night.

Of course, the actual cost per kWh of the solar output would be less than half the 22c/kWh cited here, because the panels would last well beyond 20 years.

But the 10 year time frame is used because that is the warranty period for most battery storage and it is the “combo” package that is being promoted. And without storage, then much of the output would have to be exported, with tariffs in NSW as low as 6c/kWh or non-existent for some.

What does this tell us? Allen says it is that storage is crucial to maximize the value of that solar output. Every kWh that can be consumed on site will beat the cost of production.

Of course, this is not the only benefit. Allen notes that the solar system will likely last at least another decade, possibly two, and the cost of battery storage to replace the current system will also be cheaper, while grid costs are likely to rise.

And, on top of that, the solar and storage system offers other benefits: back-up power for when local or wider blackouts occur, and increasing property values, not to mention the environmental and climate benefits……..

March 11, 2017 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, solar, storage | Leave a comment

Clean Energy Finance Corporation to repeat solar success in battery storage

logo CEFCCEFC plans to repeat solar success in battery storage, REneweconomy, By  on 2 March 2017 Clean Energy Finance Corporation chair, Jillian Broadbent, says Australia’s energy system can safely accommodate significantly higher levels of renewable energy, as long as this was “planned and coordinated” with the rollout of smart technologies, including demand management and battery storage.

Speaking on the subject of Australia’s Energy Future, at a conference hosted by UTS, ISF and BNEF on Thursday, Broadbent outlined the kind of technological solutions the green bank would be backing to help achieve what the PM likes to call the “energy trifecta” of security, sustainability and affordability.

Notably, after a month in which the Malcolm Turnbull and his Coalition has relentlessly campaigned in favour of CEFC being used to finance clean coal, clean coal was not on her list.

Instead, Broadbent used the Sydney event to highlight the organisation’s plans to fast-track the roll-out of large-scale energy storage in Australia, in the same way its $250 million large-scale solar financing program boosted big solar development by bringing down costs.

“We’re close to finalising the transactions under our (large-scale solar) program, and we’re seeing falling technology costs,” she told the conference.

“Now we’re looking to have the same impact with large-scale storage, also working alongside ARENA to support the accelerated deployment of batteries and pumped hydro.

“Just this week we had a roomful of investors meet with 10 clean energy entrepreneurs seeking finance in our first Innovators Demo Day. One strong theme was the focus on the integration of sustainable energy production and storage at the household level, fortifying the grid’s stability and making energy more affordable.”

Further focuses for CEFC funds, Broadbent said, would include strengthened transmission infrastructure, behind-the-meter solutions, innovative business models to get more value from distributed energy resources, and frequency control services including hardware, data collection and control software……

March 3, 2017 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, storage | Leave a comment

Global battery storage industry to fight Australia home bans

 REneweconomy By  on 24 February 2017  The world’s biggest battery manufacturing brands and clean energy lobby groups have signalled they will fight proposed new guidelines and recommendations that could effectively ban battery storage units from inside homes and garages, saying the restrictions are over the top and don’t conform to international standards.

Standards Australia is believed to be preparing the release of new standards that would effectively force most battery storage units to be put in a free-standing and fireproof enclosure, possibly adding thousands of dollars to the cost of installation and making it uneconomic.

As a precursor to that move, Queensland workplace regulators unveiled new recommendations last week that suggested no battery storage units be installed inside homes and garage or adjoining sheds, and instead be put in separate enclosures.

The restriction appears to apply to all battery storage units, and not just lithium chemistries

Some in the industry have branded the suggestions as ridiculous…….

February 25, 2017 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, Queensland, storage | 1 Comment