The introduction of the QLD Solar Bonus Scheme and the $0.44 feed-in tariff in 2008 allowed the impossible, no power bill, and in many cases money BACK from Ergon. The result, from 2001 to 2007 a reported total of 288 solar PV installations occurred in QLD. According to the same report 279, 765 solar PV installations occurred between 2008 and 2012. This equates to 33% of the nation’s total of 936, 810 PV systems at the time.
The 2012 cut off of the $0.44 feed-in tariff decimated the trending uptake of solar in Queensland. Replaced with a reduced $0.08 tariff, the Queensland’s solar embracing attitude was replaced with it, or so we thought.
The new public opinion was that “Solar isn’t worth it now” and “I don’t want to give them my power for nothing!” But will incorporating battery storage to a solar PV system change this opinion and will it actually negate your electricity bills?
Those of us who know a little about this it seems like a logical solution. Let’s break it down and look more closely.
Why store power?
Despite how small the value, a tariff is offered to sell excess solar electricity back to the grid. As of 01/07/2016 the feed-in rate with Ergon is $0.07448 per kW. In 2015 the average size PV system installed in QLD was 5.00kw. This size system installed in Hervey Bay will produce between 20kw – 25kw per day averaged over 365 days. Since of 1st of July 2016 the cost to buy one kW of electricity from Ergon costs you $0.27071 p/kW. Needless to say this value gap between what we are charged for electricity and what we receieve selling our excess solar electricity back to the grid is vast enough so start contemplating the idea of a ‘higher return’ through encorporating batteries. So, before you rush out with your check book to the nearest solar battery retailer, lets take a look at the return viability and the options available.
What will a battery run?
This question depends on the technology and the make of the battery/s. Lithium technology is the most common for Grid-Connected solar battery system due to the efficient size and reducing price. The lithium type LG Chem RESU 6.4 (pictured RHS)
and the Tesla Powerwall models store 5.9kw of usable power. These models are sufficient to run a few lights, fridge, T.V and some other small usage devices throughout the night but don’t be fooled into thinking you can operate your electric oven, air conditioner or oil heater through out the night with out having to reset the beside table alarm clock every morning.
The upfront cost of a battery unit is a major factor when deciding if a Solar Battery System is right for you. There may also be extra inverter or equipment costs associated to get a battery operational. In Hervey Bay, rumours the Tesla Powerwall being offered at $12,000 which is an additional cost to the price of the solar PV system itself. The LG Chem can be installed from $7390.00 including a new inverter with battery managment capabilities.
At the current rate of electricity ($0.27071) the LG Chen RESU or Tesla Powerwall can produce a daily saving of $1.597 daily. Please keep in mind that a battery is a consumable item and its storage capacity reduces with time and usage. On this matter, some battery warranties protect you against premature storage reduction more than others. Example: Tesla warrants its Powerwall battery to 85% of its original capacity after only 2 years (15% loss), compare this to the AC battery which Enphase warrants at 95% (5% storage loss) after 10 years. BE SURE TO CHECK WARRANTIES!
Off The Grid
There is a logical application for most things however converting the average residential family home to operate without a grid connection is far from logical financially speaking.
Currently if you are connected to mains electricity with Ergon, you are charged $0.98529 per day just for being connected. You have to pay for this convenience regardless of if you use any electricity or not. Suprisingly enough, the majority of people I discuss this with don’t view these charges as just and the “I’ll go off the grid” comments begin to flow. Reality is…. the $369.63 of yearly connection charges are vastly overshadowed by the large upfront cost of an off-grid system itself, not to mention the fact that you WILL need to replace all of your existing high usage electrical appliances. E.g., cooktop, hot water, gaming consoles, water jug and toaster to name a few. You may also want to ask your neighbourto return your tools that they have borrowed as they will most likely want to stab you with them due their sleep deprivation caused by the 8kva diesel generator you’re running during the week of overcast weather forecast.
Off grid systems are logical in rural/semi-rural and remote scenarios. The main reason for installing an off-grid solar PV system is that the cost of connecting to mains electricity is ridiculously expensive due to the expense and distances to tap into Ergons infrastructure, if there is any.
Battery storage has come a long way with technology and affordability over the past 7 years I have been in the industry and now more than before, manufacturers are researching and modifing their products as the Australian testing field grows. Personally, I like modern technologies and I am aware how quickly you can fall behind the 8 ball if you decide to turn your nose up at new technologies. My advice to you if you have perservered long enough to read this far, is to wait.
Both LG and Tesla are in the roll out stage of their new and improved version 2 battery. What I am wanting to make you aware of here is, you get very little to no pleasure out of having a battery in your home unless it is saving you money, which with any luck it will….eventually. The risk possibly faced with adopting this new technology is that you will have to purchase/invest finacially a long time before the battery will produce a monetary value equivalent to what you outlaid to buy it. But hey, if you have your mind set and are addimant on introducing a battery system to your home good on you. With out risk there cannot be reward and without risk takers there would be no development.