Sonnen joins crowded Oz market

The residential Australian energy storage market continues to hot up, as Sonnen, Enphase Energy and LG Chem all make announcements. Photo: sonnenBatterie, the Sonnen battery system

The residential Australian energy storage market is hotting up, with announcements from Sonnen, Enphase Energy and LG Chem. Photo: sonnenBatterie, the Sonnen battery system

By Jason Deign

German storage player Sonnen today became the latest major player to join the race for supremacy in Australia’s increasingly crowded residential energy storage market.

The company is looking to attract Australians to its sonnenBatterie product, which is a modular lithium-ion battery system capable of storing between 2kWh and 16kWh per household.

“Our first partner is True Value Solar, Australia’s largest solar company,” confirmed Mathias Bloch, Sonnen spokesman.

The company threw its hat into the Australian ring in the week after LG Chem and Enphase Energy both unveiled news of growing demand for storage products across the country.

LG Chem said it expected to see a five-fold increase in Australian shipments this year, to 3,000 units, and Enphase Energy was reported to be looking to Australia and New Zealand for the bulk of up to USD$20m in sales.

US microinverter maker Enphase expects to ship around 4,000 storage systems this year and said it will start generating revenues across the antipodes by the second half of 2016.
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10 Australian projects you need to know of

Energy storage in Australia is blazing a trail, in no small part due to these projects funded by the Australian Renewable Energy Agency. Photo credit: Carnegie Wave Energy CETO 6, ARENA

Energy storage in Australia is blazing a trail, in no small part due to projects funded by the Australian Renewable Energy Agency. Photo credit: Carnegie Wave Energy CETO 6, ARENA

By Jason Deign

The pace of energy storage development in Australia has been underscored by three separate industry announcements in the last week.

Last Thursday, RenewEconomy revealed that US developer SolarReserve had tabled a bid to replace aging coal plants in Port Augusta, South Australia, with a solar-thermal-plus-molten-salt-storage combination.

The same day, news emerged that Perth-based Carnegie Wave Energy was planning to pilot the world’s first microgrid combining wave and solar power with battery storage.

And on Saturday, the Chinese-Australian bus maker Brighsun broke the world record for the longest electric vehicle trip on a single charge, after covering 1004km between Melbourne and Sydney.

The headlines came days after government climate change review head Professor Ross Garnaut was profiled in the Sydney Morning Herald as the new chairman of ZEN Energy, a solar installer turned energy storage player.

They also follow hot on the heels of government plans to support storage tied to residential solar. Meanwhile, event organisers such as the Energy Storage World Forum have begun to add Australia to their conference destination lists.

All in all, it is clear energy storage is developing apace across Australia.

One reasons for this is that the Australian Renewable Energy Agency (ARENA), which currently faces the threat of closure, has in the past dedicated significant effort and funding to energy storage.

As a result, Australia already boasts an enviable track record in energy storage innovation. Here are 10 projects that have benefited from ARENA cash and are helping Australia blaze a trail in the energy storage sector.
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Sunverge joins race for Oz residential market

Sunverge Energy, aiming to be a major player in residential solar plus storage in Australia, has begun a partnership project with Ergon Energy of Queensland and SunPower.

Sunverge Energy, aiming to be a major player in residential solar plus storage in Australia, has begun a partnership project with Ergon Energy of Queensland and SunPower. Photo credit: Ergon Energy

By Jason Deign

US system developer Sunverge Energy last week beefed up its Australian operations amid growing signs of a residential energy storage market boom Down Under.

The company unveiled a tie-up with Queensland utility Ergon Energy to pilot 33 solar-plus-storage systems in conjunction with SunPower, the PV panel manufacturer that Sunverge already has a partnership deal with in the US.

“This is Ergon Energy’s first residential solar and storage project to be piloted in a limited release commercial offer,” said Sunverge in a press release.

The trial, which should be up and running before the end of the year, will cover Ergon customers in Toowoomba, Townsville and Cannonvale and is supported by AUD$400,000 from the Australian Renewable Energy Agency (ARENA).

It is believed Sunverge’s Solar Integration System products will be tied to Panasonic batteries for the Ergon pilot. Sunverge clearly sees the trial as the tip of a potentially large iceberg.
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How can customers trade energy with batteries?

Reposit Power, with its solar battery storage trading and control platform, is one of the companies helping residents in Australia make money by selling stored energy to the grid. Photo credit: Australian Government

Reposit Power, with its solar battery storage trading and control platform, is one of the companies helping residents in Australia sell their stored energy to the grid. Photo credit: Australian Government

By Dr Geoff James
Previously published on www.energystorageforum.com and republished with permission.

When people buy batteries for their homes, they mainly expect to have more energy independence.

But a sophisticated battery system can do more than providing secure backup power or soaking up the output of rooftop PV panels, as a rain tank catches rain.

Considering the whole electricity system, batteries can also resolve the variability of solar and wind energy, paving the way towards a cleaner, greener grid.

This is called ‘balancing the grid’ and batteries are excellent at short-term balancing over seconds, minutes and hours. The best part? There is money to be made from it.
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Battery storage market is at home in Australia

Energy storage Australia: we explain the reasons for the massive growth in residential solar battery storage and look at the main companies in the market. Photo credit: Ergon Energy

Energy storage Australia: we explain the reasons for the huge growth in residential solar battery storage and look at the main companies in the market. Photo credit: Ergon Energy

By Dr Geoff James

Affordable battery energy storage is on Australia’s doorstep and getting an open-armed welcome.

And it is the residential sector that is driving demand, likely to overtake utility-scale installations next year to become the dominant grid-connected storage resource.

Only the immature supply chain can slow the growth of residential storage and with it the new energy democracy.

Several factors combine to make a perfect storm that will blow away old business models and energy industries unwilling to adapt.

Firstly, Australia has lots of rooftop solar PV generation, about 3GW and over 20% of households, which is significant on a world scale.
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Flow batteries for Asian telcos

Zinc-bromide flow battery manufacturer RedFlow has scored a battery supply agreement with Emerson Network Power Australia to develop a flow battery storage solution for off-grid and micro-grid markets in the Asia Pacific Region, reports ProactiveInvestors.

According to a company spokesperson, a key advantage of the products is their plastic build, which makes them ideal for harsh and remote locations.

Australia set for energy storage boom

There is a lot of encouraging clean-tech news coming from Down Under these days. A report entitled Energy Storage in Australia – Commercial Opportunities, Barriers and Policy Options, compiled by Marchment Hill Consulting, makes the prediction that by 2030 energy storage capacity will reach more than 3GW. The current usage is estimated at around one tenth of that figure.

The report also estimates that the average cost could fall by more than 50% by decade’s end, to reach around USD$300/kW in a best-case scenario. The Australian industry itself has aimed for around $250/kW, which may be a little optimistic given another estimate, this time from Lux Consulting, of $500/kW.

Australian lobby group the Clean Energy Council cites increasing fossil-fuel prices, as well as the falling price of energy storage, as being a key factor in the sector’s predicted growth, claiming the market for energy storage will outshine the photovoltaic solar industry in terms of being a transformative technology.

During an interview with smh.com.au, the Council’s strategic policy manager, Tim Sonnreich said: “Whether policy makers like it or not, it’s coming. The cost-curves are coming down and the costs of alternatives (such as coal and gas) are going up. Storage is becoming a better and better deal.”

ZEN improves domestic energy storage

The South Australian firm ZEN claims that its active balancing battery management system halves the expense of storing electricity, compared to other lithium-ion units, reports the Brisbane Times. ZEN is primarily a software company, rather than a conventional battery manufacturer, and has applied its expertise to batteries produced by its sister company, the US-based Greensmith Energy Management Systems.

The 20kWh Freedom PowerBank is the size of a large fridge and currently retails at AUD$30,000 (USD$31,000), although the company hopes this will go down to AUD$20,000 once production is ramped up. The company hopes the unit will find favour with those wanting to store low-cost, night-time electricity for use in the day, when prices can go up by a factor of five. It would also benefit those wanting to dispense entirely with their grid supplier.