Canada lets the states lead on climate, should Australia do the same?

Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau showed Australia a thing or two when he announced a new climate change plan last week – and not just because it was delivered impeccably in two languages. Trudeau has decided to leave climate policy to the provinces, while forcing them to act. Is this state-based approach a model for […]

A smart ‘switch’ in photosynthesis holds lessons for solar technology

Photosynthetic organisms like plants are the ultimate natural solar panels. They are extremely efficient at converting sunlight into stored energy. Researchers working on “bio-inspired” solar innovations – drawing from the natural world to create new technologies – find this extremely interesting. They’re keen to understand exactly how the photosynthetic machinery works to harvest light under […]

Renewables are getting cheaper all the time – here’s why

The stars are aligning for Australia to transition to 100% renewable electricity. Our fossil fuel infrastructure is ageing, which means we will soon need to invest in new power generators. New technologies such as battery storage could revolutionise long-standing business models. With care, the transitions away from fossil fuels could offer greater job opportunities. Our […]

Victoria’s renewables target joins an impressive shift towards clean energy

The Victorian Labor government has announced an “ambitious and achievable” Victorian Renewable Energy Target (VRET). This target will commit the state to generating 25% of its electricity from renewable energy by 2020, and 40% by 2025. While details of the VRET are yet to be fully fleshed out, it is set to be based on […]

Australia to ratify the Paris climate deal, under a large Trump-shaped shadow

Australia’s government has announced that it is to ratify the Paris climate agreement, which was struck 11 months ago and entered into force last Friday. The move comes despite the election of Donald Trump, who has called climate change a Chinese-inspired hoax. Trump has pledged to turn his back on the Paris treaty after he […]

DiCaprio’s documentary calls for a green future, but his vision isn’t radical enough

Leonardo DiCaprio’s new climate change documentary, Before the Flood, began streaming online this week. As a disaster risk scientist, I watched with intrigue. While it doesn’t cover a lot of new material for those familiar with the topic, DiCaprio will undoubtedly reach a new audience given his star power and access to figures like Pope […]

Why “green cities” need to become a deeply lived experience

Enthusiasm for urban greening is at a high point, and rightly so. Ecological studies highlight the contribution urban nature makes to the conservation of biodiversity. For example, research shows cities support a greater proportion of threatened species than non-urban areas. Green space is increasingly recognised as useful for moderating the heat island effect. Hence, this […]

Solar Incentive Still Generous…But It Wouldn’t Last Long

Did you know that the government incentive to install solar goes up and down depending on how many people are installing? The incentive was designed to “self-regulate” the market. When a lot of people are installing solar, the value of the incentive falls. This increases the cost to the consumer and slows down the market. […]

Renters are being left out in the cold on energy savings: here’s a solution

Saving energy is a win-win. You reduce greenhouse emissions and you reduce your energy bills. However, improving energy efficiency is not an option for a significant number of people in Australia – renters. This is important not only because rental properties account for 29.6% of Australian houses, or 2.3 million homes, but because the high […]

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Understanding Batteries

Off-Grid Systems

For some households a battery system can be of great benefit and minimise a home’s reliance on the grid. However, it’s important to understand for a battery to be useful your solar system needs to be generating excess energy for the battery to store, which you can then use at night or when the sun is not out.

When selecting a battery, you’ll want to invest in a system that is most suited to your home and can drive the best return on investment (ROI). Despite a larger upfront cost, a higher quality battery may significantly increase your ROI.

    Battery systems start from $6,000 and costs can vary greatly based on the following factors:

  1. Cycle Life-Time

    The number of times a battery can fully charge and discharge.

  2. Battery Power (kW)

    How fast it can be charged or discharged.

  3. Storage Capacity (kWh)

    The maximum amount of energy a battery system can store.

  4. Battery Management System (BMS)

    An electronic ‘smart’ system that gathers data and manages the battery ensuring it does not overload or operate outside of its safe functioning zone..

  5. Inverter

    Battery systems require their own inverter if your solar system does not have a hybrid inverter.

  6. 'All-In-One Unit’

    A system which includes the battery, BMS and an inverter all in one unit.

  7. Warranty

    Length of time or cycles the battery system is under guarantee.

  8. Blackout Protection/Backup

    It’s important to note this is not a common feature of a battery system and could cost thousands of dollars to include. Blackout protection not only requires additional components but also a specialised installation and rewiring. For grid-connected homes, the cost for blackout protection can outweigh the benefit.

Additionally, if your purpose for adding battery is to go Off-Grid and become completely independent from the grid you will need to ensure your solar system can generate enough energy to power your home and your battery system is large enough to store this energy. For homes in metro areas going Off-grid is not cost effective and is only recommended for those in remote areas with limited access to the grid. Off-grid solar systems with battery start at approximately $30,000.