Are you wondering if you should install a battery with your new solar system? Or have you been thinking about adding batteries to an existing system but you’re not sure if they’re the right next step in your solar journey?
Although solar is becoming commonplace, with an estimated one in five Australian households now boasting a solar system, batteries are only just coming into their prime, with uptake expected to increase rapidly as prices continue to fall.
If you’re concerned with your reliance on the electrical grid and the ever changing prices, you’re not alone. Concern about changing prices, environmentally design, and electrical retailer reliance are some of the primary reasons people choose to go battery powered.
While going off grid can be expensive, a grid-connected system with battery backup (known as a hybrid system) offers the best of both worlds; the ability to supply your own energy needs for the most part, while still having backup from the grid if your needs change, or the weather is bad.
Investing in solar is the first step towards energy security, but investing in a battery offers energy independence.
Storms & blackouts
If you live in an area prone to blackouts or summer storms, battery backup can be invaluable. When you have perishable foods or need the Internet, having enough energy backup means saving money, staying in contact, and staying safe.
If this is your reason for investing in battery backup, it’s important to check that your battery offers blackstart capability; in other words, it will still offer energy storage after the grid goes down. Many hybrid systems are completely disabled when the grid goes down.
Some systems basically go off-grid when the grid is down. YOu solar operates during the day, running house and recharging the battery. This is not the case for every system so you need to make sure to ask the right questions.
Battery demand is increasing
Battery prices are coming down, and as electricity prices rise, this means around the clock savings for people looking to gain their energy independence. Predictions for the next five years include an estimated annual growth of 12%, with Australia charting well to become a hub for the entire lithium-ion battery value chain over the next decade.
With electric vehicles set to become the next big step in lowering emissions, they should be a part of your consideration when deciding on a battery. EV’s consume a large amount of electricity, so it’s important to consider how you’ll manage your energy use if you’re planning to invest in the near future.
Many people choose to charge their EV overnight, so having energy available in the form of a battery will save you from using large amounts of power from the grid overnight, and instead allow you to make use of your own electricity generated during the day.
Night time & peak hour
If you’re a shift worker, regularly use power during peak times, or you simply don’t want to be on the clock, batteries give you autonomy in your power choices.
While solar energy is produced during the day, with the peak hours of 10am-2pm seeing the highest production, batteries allow storage and access to your power at any time of day or night.
Invest in the Long Term
If you’re looking for a longterm investment, batteries are still better than cash in the bank, with many of our customers experiencing an average payback period of seven years. Although not as quick to pay themselves as a solar system, batteries are still a great investment option if you’re looking for a customised solution to suit your lifestyle, and save.
Virtual Power Plants (VPP’s)
Trade your energy on the grid, and earn from your battery while supplying your neighbours with power. A virtual power plant allows you to trade energy and earn.
VPP’s like sonnen allow you to make some extra money off your battery. The VPP operator will access a tiny portion of your energy occasionally to help stablise the grid, or you can sell excess energy. This is a very valuable and helpful way that renewables make a difference.
If you’re located in Ergon territory, you won’t be able to access traditional VPP’s at this stage, but with sonnen’s recent release of the sonnenConnect plan, you can earn up to 82 cents per day for providing grid stabilisation; or in tech talk, becoming part of the FCAS (Frequency Control Ancillary Services). With the sonnenConnect plan, you won’t need to change retailers and you can opt out at any time.
Get ahead of the curve
The most cost effective time to install a battery is while installing your solar system, so making the decision today will save you further down the road. With electronic vehicles and virtual power plants rapidly becoming a part of our modern landscape, batteries are the next step to taking control of your energy and keeping up with the latest innovations in technology as they become available.
What if you’re not ready for batteries?
If you’re sitting on the fence about installing a battery, you’ve still got options. Check with your installer that the system is battery ready, and you can add batteries at a later date. Some batteries also come in modular format, so you can invest in a smaller battery initially, then increase the size later if you wish.
Peter is a Licensed Electrician and the Director of Proven Energy, a Clean Energy Council Approved Solar Retailer. After working in the industry, Peter’s interest in renewable energy lead him to found the company in 2012, offering honest and reliable solar system supply and installation for residential, commercial, off-grid and agricultural properties. Peter is a CEC Accredited Installer. Electrical Contractors Lic No. 74650