Believe the Hype: Australia's Battery Market is set for eye-watering growth

For quite some time I'd dismissed the hype about the attractiveness of installing grid-connected batteries in Australia. Yes, everyone loves the idea of energy independence, and would love to give the middle finger to the electricity retailers who buy excess solar power at a fifth of the price they themselves charge. But I thought there would be few people willing to spend tens of thousands of dollars to do so. On top of that, though Tesla had created a surge of interest, most PV retailers were struggling to convert that into sales, or had limited product supply options.

When I surveyed the market in April 2016, respondents reported that only although half of solar power enquiries were asking about batteries, barely 2% of people who bought a solar power system actually bought a battery with it. Back in April, the median respondent forecast there to be 850 installations nationwide in 2016, totalling 28MWh; 75% of respondents expected fewer than 5500 installations would occur last year.

My what a difference half a year can make! In the second half of 2016, more products came to market, Tesla announced a major price drop, and lo and behold batteries became an affordable option (for some). Using SunWiz's PVsell software, the dashboard below demonstrates that an Adelaide household can get a 7 year payback on a 5kW PV system with 13kWh of storage, if they have moderately high energy consumption (25 kWh/day). In the process, they can generate 88% of their energy needs, reduce their solar export by three-quarters, and reduce their grid draw by 72%.

Its no wonder that Australia is about to become one of the top countries in the world for battery installations. 

But how do we know what's actually been installed? Whereas the STC incentive means SunWiz can track PV installations with a high degree of accuracy and deep resolution, no such data source exists for batteries. While distribution network operators may seem the natural focal point of data collection, our discussions with network operators revealed they are largely unaware of the true volumes of batteries that are being installed on their network. So, in order to provide some transparency into what is otherwise a highly opaque market, SunWiz has had to personally interview over 60 battery market leaders. And by leveraging SunWiz's status as trusted independent solar analyst, we have been given unprecedented amount of information (most of which we must keep confidential), and this has been compiled into a report that provides unparalleled insight.

The report shows:

  1. 6750 battery installations occurred in 2016, up from 500 in 2015. This means that 5% of new PV systems included energy storage in 2016.
  2. New South Wales and Queensland led installations in 2016.
  3. Because most of the installations occurred in the latter part of the year, we are confident there will be at least a three-fold increase (and more likely a fourfold increase) on these number in 2017. This would mean one in five new PV installations in 2017 includes batteries.
  4. There was a record volume of capacity installed in major projects, rollouts, and distribution network trials.

Our full report provides a rich dataset of research, survey, and industry opinion that will inform the strategies of storage manufacturers, wholesalers and retailers for the year ahead. It includes a full details of the volumes installed in 2015 and 2016, forecasts for 2017 and beyond, commentary and insights into market trends, details of battery pricing and financials, a listing of the top ranks of manufacturers wholesalers and retailers, and comprehensive coverage of the key news of 2016. More information on the report can be found at http://www.sunwiz.com.au/index.php/battery-market-report-2017.html

 

 

SunWiz today released the results of its extensive surveys, interviews, and research into the Australian market for energy storage.

SunWiz's research concludes that there were at 6750 battery installations in 2016, totalling 52MWh. To put this into context, there were 130,000 installations of solar power systems in 2016, meaning that effectively 5% of solar installations included batteries in the past year.

Says Warwick Johnston, Managing Director of SunWiz "6750 installations in 2016 represents exceptional growth in the Australian battery market, coming off the back of 500 battery installations in 2015. What makes it all the more impressive is that most installations occurred in the latter part of the year, setting up 2017 to be another year of remarkable growth". Johnston says "SunWiz expects the market to treble in 2017, suggesting 15% of new solar installations will include energy storage this year."

New South Wales was the #1 location for battery installations, followed closely by Queensland. South Australia has the most favourable market for battery installations, owing to large amounts of sunlight, high electricity prices, and subsidy programs from government, AGL, and SAPN - all of which contribute towards some solar-storage systems having 7-year paybacks before subsidy.

2016 was also the largest year for storage projects. Highlights inlcude the 2MWh installation at the Sandfire Copper Mine, the 1.1MWh community installation at Alkimos Beach, and the ACT auction.

Survey respondents from solar retailers indicated that 70% of sales enquiries for solar also enquire about batteries. Customers are interested in the ability of batteries to become grid-independent, reduce electricity bills, and make more efficient use of their solar panels.

The report, which was based on hundreds of hours of interviews, surveys, and research, provides transparency into what is otherwise a very opaque market. Johnston says "our interviews highlighted the storage market is in its infancy and market education is required. Customer expectations of batteries differ markedly from the capabilities and value proposition of most offerings on the market, and salespeople are also caught up in the excitement. Batteries aren't yet a commodity - one size doesn't fit all and tools such as PVsell can help identify which is the best option for individual customers. 

For more information or to order your copy of the report, visit http://sunwiz.com.au/index.php/battery-market-report-2017.html or call Warwick Johnston on 0413361534

 

 

At one point, 2016 looked like an abysmal year for Australian solar. But 2016 turned out to be record breaking year for solar, in many regards. You'll get all the information you need here, but here are some of the highlights.

  1. Though the headline utility-scale figures indicate a come-down of mammoth proportions, it was always going to be impossible to fill the gap left by Nyngan, Broken Hill, and Moree - heavily-subsided projects over five years in the making. However, if we exclude systems exceeding 20MW (Baracaldine being the only project last year above this threshold), there was actually significant growth. There was a record volume of systems in the 5-20MW range: Mugga Lane, Williamsdale, and Dugrussa (Sandfire), as well as growth in every other size category above 100kW.

    Read more: Solar Highlights - a recordbreaking 2016

 

SunWiz is researching installations that exceed 100kW, as part of our reporting to the International Energy Agency's PV working group, APVI's "PV In Australia", and CEC's "Clean Energy Australia" report. We are the key market analyst responsible for tallying the PV installation volume that was commissioned each year, and we rely on multiple data sources. The STC registry provides the best snapshot of the volume of sub-100kW systems, but for systems over 100kW the LGC Registry isn't as up-to-date or complete. So we track key market announcements, interview leading installers, and survey the market (which is what we're doing now). As you can see from the image below we currently have identified 33 projects totalling nearly 80MW that we understand have been commissioned in 2016.

We'd greatly appreciate if you can let us know if you've installed a PV system over 100kW that was commissioned in 2015 that isn't listed below. Projects are listed in descending order of capacity. Please email project details to warwick@sunwiz.com.au.  

25MW Barcaldine Remote Community Solar Farm
Mugga Lane Solar Park
Williamsdale Solar Farm
Degrussa Solar
Darwin International Airport Stage 1
Solar Choice & Solar Fields - Mount Majura Solar Farm
Yulara Solar
Adelaide Airport 1MW
Sunshine Plaza Melbourne
Karratha Solar Farm
Barangaroo Sydney
Sydney International Convention Centre
Dobinsons Spring & Suspension
The Canberra Hospital
2 Faulding Street Symonston
Alice Plaza
AustChilli
Karama Shopping Plaza
Royal Australian Mint
Hibiscus Shopping Centre
Sunny Crumpton Solar
Bundaberg Christian College
BUPA Traralgon 200kWp
Gippsland Grammar
North Melbourne Rec Center & Football Club Combined Tender
BUPA Templestowe
Renmark Self Storage
BUPA Pottsville 175kWp
St Kilda Town Hall
Bianco Construction Supplies Solar System
BUPA Mildura 150kWp
Bianco Precast Solar System
BUPA Bendigo 120kWp

 

 

The upgrade bonanza: NSW PV Retailers start targeting Solar Bonus Scheme customers for system upgrades

All solar bonus scheme households within the best Sydney postcode to target for system upgrades have been individually identified and mapped, with more top postccodes to follow and most available upon request. 150,000 opportunities totalling up to 420MW of PV and 1000MWh of storage,

It won't come as much news that NSW PV retailers are eagerly awaiting a mini-boom come 1/1/2017. That's the date when 150,000 customers under the Solar Bonus Scheme lose their 60c/kWh gross feed-in tariff, and instead receive 10 times less value for their excess solar power. The first, most sensible option for these customers is to switch their metering across from gross metering to net metering, so that the solar power they self-consume during the day at least offsets their daytime tariff of 20-52c/kWh. But these households, most of whom have been receiving a cheque from their electricity providers are in for the worst bill shock they've ever experienced. And while they couldn't upgrade their PV system without forfeiting their generous 60c/kWh feed-in tariff, when the SBS program ends on 1/1/2017 they will also be unshackled from upgrading.
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