In 2017, the Climate Council conducted a survey among 2,000 households, where the main goal was to determine the perception Australians have about solar power and energy storage. The results were surprising, and indicate a favorable outlook for the Australian solar industry. Most homeowners do not view batteries as a backup power supply to be used during blackouts, but rather as a technology that can make them independent from local energy retailers.
One of the key findings was that 75% of Australians who were surveyed believe solar photovoltaic systems with battery storage will become mainstream within the next decade. Many homeowners who participated in the survey have already installed their own solar photovoltaic systems, and 68% of them are considering the addition of battery storage.
Australians also have a very positive perception about the world’s largest battery, installed by Tesla in South Australia. The public believes these systems are beneficial for the local network and that they will become more common during the next decade. On the other hand, the public perception of coal is negative; Australians believe there is no reason to keep old power plants running as energy storage becomes more affordable.
What Australians Expect from Solar Power and Batteries
When homeowners were asked what is their main motivation to deploy energy storage, the most common answers were the following:
- Reducing their power bills or having more control over them: 68.3%
- Going completely off-grid: 13.3%
- Backup power supply during blackouts: 6.2%
This reflects a very clear trend: Australian homeowners have had enough of the rising electricity prices charged by local energy retailers, and prefer to generate and manage their own power. The ownership cost of a home battery system is still high, but purchasing all your electricity from the grid is even more expensive.
By combining solar power and batteries, homes and businesses can have predictable energy costs for the entire service life of the installation. On the other hand, when a building relies completely on the power network, tariff increases can come at any time with no warning. Most importantly, distributed solar power with battery storage eliminates the role of the power network, which represents more than half of the electricity price charged by retailers!
Financial Performance of Solar Power with Batteries
With the current electricity prices in Australia, a system that combines solar power and batteries has a payback period of around 10 years, which is also the service life of most battery systems. However, consider that the solar array typically lasts for 20 years or more: only batteries need a replacement after 10 years, not the whole system.
Also, keep in mind that the cost of batteries has decreased by 5% in 2017, and they are expected to become around 30% cheaper before 2020, while electricity rates continue to increase. In other words, the financial performance of a combined solar power and energy storage system will only improve each year.
If you combine battery storage with a Solar Power Purchase Agreement (PPA), you can avoid the upfront costs associated with the photovoltaic array itself. With this approach, financing a combined solar power and storage system is much simpler.