Solar batteries can solve Australia's power woes

10th March 2017 - AFR ArticleTesla battery technology could solve South Australia’s energy crisis and help restore the power shortfall from the Hazelwood power plant closure in Victoria. 

Lyndon Rive, President of Tesla Energy Products, made the claims yesterday when launching Tesla’s second-generation battery storage solutions, Powerwall 2 for domestic use, and the high capacity Powerpack 2 integrated system for business and industry, both with integrated inverter.

Article written by Australian Financial Review: Read more: AFR Article

In South Australia  100MW-300MW of battery storage could be installed in under 100 days — or up to 15 per cent of the state’s demand.

The confidence of home batteries being able to plug gaps in grid power has been buoyed by its successful completion of a similar assignment in southern California last year, when it built an 80MWh battery farm in 90 days after a gas peaking plant near Los Angeles leaked tonnes of methane and had to be closed.

Tesla was one of three battery companies to step forward when the California power system operator called for emergency storage and it is one of a large number of battery companies vying for the 1.6 million solar rooftop homes and businesses in Australia. 

"We could install everything and get it up and running within 100 days," Mr Rive said at the launch of Tesla's Powerwall 2 battery in a converted substation at Newport, near Melbourne. 

"We had a similar challenge in southern California ... We got 80MWh up in 90 days. That's unheard of. You just don't get power plants running up and down that fast."

Energy crisis

Mr Rive's claim comes as Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull declares a national energy emergency , and the Australian Energy Market Operator warns that either gas users or electricity generators will go short in future unless something is done urgently.

AGL Energy has warned that it may be unable to meet gas demand this winter and manufacturers have warned of mounting job losses and plant closures because of skyrocketing electricity and gas prices and a looming shortage of gas. 

Installation of more battery storage could ease pressure on the gas market. 

Mr Rive said the $US5 billion Gigafactory had brought a "step function" reduction in battery costs per unit of capacity, and Powerwall 2 would pack twice the capacity of its predecessor - 13.2kWh - in a case 30 per cent smaller, for the same cost. 

Cost down

He said the cost for large installations had come down to $US400-600 per kWh of capacity depending on the configuration, or about $US50 million ($A65 million) per 100MWh, with reductions for large scale installations. 

Powerwall 2 units can be stacked for larger households or businesses, up to 9, carrying about a 120KWh of capacity. Eight stacks would pack a MWh. First installations in Australia will be late April.

Mr Rive said with batteries in households and at large scale in the power network, "it would be near impossible to bring down the grid" because no part of the system would be dependent on anything else. 

Power stations obsolete

Battery storage is in its infancy but Mr Rive said he expected "100 per cent" of Australian households with rooftop solar - currently there are 1.6 million - to install batteries over the next decade because many of them are losing fat legacy feed in tariffs.

Storage and smart management systems can enable households to get better value from their panels and also support the grid for a fee or a cut of the savings when shortages loom.

He said the rollout of the technology would make the building of costly new coal power stations and transmission networks - as  governments and transmission companies have been urging - unnecessary and a costly mistake.

"By the time it gets activated the technology will be obsolete, and it's going to take years and it won't address the immediate problem," he told reporters. 

"The worst possible outcome" would be to continue investing in the grid as solar panels and storage were rolled out to millions of households, he said. "It makes no sense to duplicate infrastructure."

Read more: AFR Article

Solar and home battery advantages are significant

CSR Bradford Executive General Manager, Anthony Tannous stated “with the advantages of innovative clean-energy technology consumers now have a choice and can take steps to decrease their power bills and decrease their reliance on the grid. Bradford Solar's BackUpPack including Tesla Powerwall can help Australians maintain power during a black out."

"We’re excited to make clean affordable energy more accessible for families while also investing in technology for Australia’s future,” says Tannous.

“Electricity savings and the ability to decrease reliance on the grid for homeowners investing in solar and home battery technology are significant,” Tannous continued.

“A 5kW Bradford Solar ChargePack with Powerwall 2, allows a family of five in South Australia the ability to achieve up to 95% self-sufficiency on an average day, saving thousands on their annual energy bills.”

“Consumers have had enough of indecision in the Australian energy sector. Solar and home battery storage is the future for energy management. This gives control back to individual households enabling the homeowner to store, use and manage their electricity usage as never before.”

Tesla Powerwall is floor or wall-mounted, lithium-ion battery which stores the excess energy generated by rooftop solar panels. Whatever power isn’t used during the day can then be used overnight. This enables homeowners to use the energy from their solar panels during the day to power their home with solar energy at night.

“Importantly for families, this helps reduce the reliance on mains power when the sun isn’t shining” Tannous said.

“Families are increasingly interested in our Powerwall solution because they see the opportunity to future-proof their homes and use and manage their own, guilt-free energy,” Tannous said.

“Homes that include solar with battery storage options, allowing them to virtually eliminate their need for grid electricity consumption, are already proving to be attractive to home-buyers. We expect this interest to continue as energy prices increase and leading to, we anticipate, yet further inquiries for our ChargePacks.”

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