Is it time to get a battery for you home?

We get asked this a lot as part of the Sunny Shire Community Solar Bulk Buy. It’s a tricky question.

As it stands, investing in a battery for your house will make your electricity for your house more expensive, use more electricity than currently and have an overall negative impact on the environment. But still, there are some good reasons to get a battery.

We make many decisions each day without thought of paybacks, returns on investment or energy/environmental payback. But when it comes to solar and batteries, we really scrutinize every detail more than any other purchasing decision.

Realistically, getting a battery for your house is not economically rational yet, and I will leave it to Jay to reveal his analysis, but there are still many reasons you may choose to get one. Here’s 6:

1 – Supporting innovation

Early adopters provide early revenues for innovative companies. Without early adopters, it is possible that the likes of Apple and Tesla would be out of business today.

Since the Tesla Powerwall launch just over 2 years ago that changed the way the world thinks about electricity, the market has been flooded by battery manufacturers. It is a competitive space, and many have pulled back or pulled out already. They do need our support now, for early revenues, and early learnings on what marketing and technology works, and what the customer wants.

And this applies to support industries, like installers, and supplementary technologies like Reposit.

2 – The upcoming summer

The market has forecast a severe supply/demand squeeze for the 2017/18 summer in Australia. It is likely we will be short of power supply to meet peak demands at some points, potentially leading to rolling black outs (sounds worse than it is, it means suburbs are switched off for 30 minutes, and rotated geographically, to reduce demand).

By storing electricity, and reducing peak demand, you can be part of supporting the electricity grid this summer. If you invest a little more, you may be the only house in your street with the lights on.

3 – Black out protection 

Which leads me to black out protection. While it may not pay off to buy off-peak and use during peak times, or consume more of your excess solar, you may place a high value on maintaining electricity supply. Particularly if you have weeks of frozen meals in the freezer.

Some areas of the shire like Bundeena & Maianbar have less reliable electricity, and are particularly interested in the potential of batteries.

LG Chem battery with Solar Edge hybrid inverter

4 – Electricity Prices are going up now

Electricity prices are certainly rising. Not sometime in the future, but right now, dramatically. AGL and Energy Australia have announced large increases. As prices go up and battery prices reduce, it will certainly become more attractive to get batteries in the future.

If batteries are $1,000 more expensive now than in a year’s time, it may be worth jumping in now.

5 – Renewables needs it

South Australia needs batteries now. In NSW, not so much. We have Gigawatts of pumped hydro, and only 3% solar and 4% wind. This will change soon, but really we do not need storage until we reach much higher penetrations of renewables. However, batteries can help renewables now in 2 ways.

Firstly, it proves to the doubters that batteries and renewables work. Just this week Deputy PM Barnaby Joyce remarked how it is night time and not windy, so how can renewables power us now? By getting batteries and showing others, you can prove the we can have a renewable future.

Secondly, if batteries are set to charge up when renewables are abundant and electricity is cheap, this creates a floor price for renewables. When there is more storage in the grid, this gives investors in renewables confidence that there will always be demand for their renewables, and the price won’t go too low, or even negative like it does in SA.

6 – Be part of the transition

As Finn Peacock from Solar Quotes recently wrote, one day in the future, everyone will have batteries in their home, and by then, batteries will be boring. But now? They are exciting.

Rather than watch the energy transition pass by, you can be at the front of it. Learning how they work in practice, what money they actually save (or not), and sharing the learnings and info with friends and family. No doubt there will be many in the industry to learn how it went for you.

Conclusion

The first question is, can you afford it? There are many better options to reducing electricity costs, if that is your objective, like getting consumption monitoring, solar, LED lights, hot water heat pump and other measures. A battery investment should not be made in desperation to reduce electricity costs just yet.

After that, if you like the idea, as long as you go in eyes wide open..go for it! I think I will too.

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