February2016

Why would the world accept Australia’s offer to store nuclear waste?

Mark Diesendorf, UNSW Australia While acknowledging that nuclear electricity is not commercially viable in South Australia, the Royal Commission’s tentative findings give strong support to the extraordinary notion that the state should attempt to profit by storing high-level nuclear waste from countries that do have nuclear power. The scheme envisages a combination of above-ground temporary […]

The winners and losers in Tesla’s battery plan for the home

Craig Froome, The University of Queensland Tesla’s plans to use its new battery storage system to power homes will provide households with more opportunities to reduce bills. But it will also cause headaches for the electricity distribution companies. The company’s founder, Elon Musk, announced last week that it had developed the Powerwall batteries that could […]

How to build a plane that never needs to land

Richard Cochrane, University of Exeter The British military is reportedly set to purchase two planes that can fly for months on end without needing to land. These large solar-powered “Zephyr” drones would likely be sent to carry out long-term surveillance missions and could constantly monitor an area with high-quality imagery. They could also be used […]

The electricity network is changing fast, here’s where we’re heading

Paul Graham, CSIRO Things are changing extremely fast in the electricity sector. In 2013 the electricity industry and its stakeholders came together in the CSIRO Future Grid Forum to imagine the possibilities for the future of electricity industry to 2050. Electricity demand was falling, solar panels were being adopted en masse, retail prices were rising, […]

Why you should stay on the grid, even with your solar-powered batteries

Rodney Stewart, Griffith University Anything that can help cut our electricity bill is to be welcomed, and Tesla’s solar rechargeable batteries, now available in Australia, are just the latest option. Many Australian households have already installed solar photovoltaic (PV) panels to generate their own electricity, even selling some back into the grid. Now they will […]

The cheapest way to scale up wind and solar energy? High-tech power lines

Christopher Clack, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration Wind power and solar power are ways to reduce carbon emissions, but these generation sources are dependent on the vagaries of the weather, which means neither wind nor solar can produce electricity on-demand at all hours of the day. This variability has led many to assume that greatly […]

With big solar Australia could be backing a winner, but it still needs leadership

Iain MacGill, UNSW Australia The Australian Renewable Energy Agency (ARENA) and Clean Energy Finance Corporation (CEFC) announced this week A$350 million in joint funding to support up to ten new large-scale solar photovoltaic (PV) projects in Australia and drive down the cost of large-scale solar. It’s not the first support for utility-scale PV offered by […]

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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.