August2016

The electricity market’s not doing a great job – here’s how to improve it

The past three weeks have seen considerable discussion of Australia’s wholesale electricity market, driven largely by severe price spikes in South Australia. Hugh Saddler, writing last week on The Conversation, and the Climate Council, in a report, have each done a good job of busting the myth that this is all because of SA’s relatively […]

Community Solar in Australia

Local Sydney craft brewer Young Henry’s recently won $40k in funding for their community solar project.  This Newtown brewery will have a 30kW PV system on their roof with an open call for local investors bidding on 76 shares allocations of $250 each. The 120 solar panel system aims to supply up to 25% of […]

South Australia’s electricity price woes are more due to gas than wind

The past few weeks have seen extraordinarily high wholesale electricity prices in South Australia, averaging (as of 23 July) A$321 per megawatt hour, compared with A$80 per MWh for July 2015. The prices have attracted an even more extraordinary deluge of news coverage – much of itasserting, with little or no evidence, that the high […]

Under a single minister, will energy and the environment be friends or foes?

One of the most notable moves in yesterday’s cabinet reshuffle was Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull’s decision to merge the environment and energy portfolios, and hand them both to current energy minister Josh Frydenberg. The immediate reaction was mixed. The Australian Petroleum and Exploration Association described it as “the holy grail”, whereas others branded the move […]

Why Homeowners Without Solar are Rushing to Install Before December 2016

The government solar incentive, which provides a significant discount off the upfront cost of a solar system, is due to be phased out starting 1st January 2017. The incentive has had a huge influence on accelerating the growth of solar in Australia to the point where over 1.5 million homes now have solar panels installed. […]

The next solar revolution could replace fossil fuels in mining

Recently Sandfire Resources, a gold and copper producer based in Western Australia, announced its new solar power plant will soon start powering its DeGrussa mine. By replacing diesel power, the 10-megawatt power station, with 34,000 panels and lithium storage batteries, is expected to reduce the mine’s carbon emissions by 15%. This is an exciting development […]

Study: Australians can be sustainable without sacrificing lifestyle or economy

A sustainable Australia is possible – but we have to choose it. That’s the finding of a paper published  in Nature. The paper is the result of a larger project to deliver the first Australian National Outlook report, more than two years in the making, which CSIRO is also releasing today. As part of this analysis […]

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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.