Home battery prices have risen by around 15% due to global demand for electric vehicles, says Anthony Kurta, managing director of Solar Run, whose company is one of Victoria’s largest installers.
But that hasn’t stopped his customers: “The uptake has been fantastic – people are worried there’s not enough electricity in the grid and they worry about power outages.
One such client, West Heidelberg resident Robert Montirosso, is an owner/builder who has embarked on the construction of a 9.1 star, energy-efficient home. Made from 150mm thick foam panels, the all-electric house is unlikely to need heating or cooling, although Montirosso has installed them for added comfort if needed. And it now has a new 23 kilowatt rooftop solar system and the first of three batteries that will be installed over the next year.
Montirosso thinks gas and electricity prices will continue to rise and he worries that the energy grid is struggling to keep up with demand. The government’s attempts to manage the transition from fossil fuels could take years, so in the meantime it hopes for greater energy security and serious savings.
“I’m a family type who wants to have a nice home for their kids and their partner, and I’m also a little ass,” he says.
As Australia brings more renewables into the grid, storage – both domestic and system-wide – is crucial. Large-scale batteries, such as the “Big Battery” in Victoria near Geelong, can store electricity when there is excess supply, so it is available when demand is high. But most large-scale batteries only have two to four hours of storage available, so longer storage, like pumped hydro, will be needed.
Community batteries are an emerging technology and last month the Yarra Energy Foundation installed Australia’s first intra-city community batteries in North Fitzroy.
Located on a street corner and the size of four refrigerators, the lithium-ion battery is designed for the local community of around 200 homes – including those unable to install solar panels on the roof – can access and store renewable energy. This battery absorbs and stores excess energy from solar power on the roof during the day and releases it during evening peak hours to replace fossil energy. It also ensures the stability of the local network.
North Fitzroy resident Laura Brinson was interested in the program because it included people, like her, who didn’t have solar panels on their homes, and she supports bringing more renewable energy into the system of Victoria.
“I’ve learned so much more about the practical changes you can make to your home, and it’s been a really satisfying process to be involved with – all of my neighbors are interested.”
The NSW Government does not keep detailed solar installation data, but a spokesperson said that as of June 15 there had been more than 3,000 applications for solar systems in the ‘Energy Bill Buster’ scheme, which will provide solar systems and energy efficiency upgrades for up to 30,000 homes.
Joan and Ross Hughes decided a while ago to install rooftop solar panels and a battery for their home in Kiama, two hours south of Sydney, and had the 10kW system installed this week.
Talk to age and The Sydney Morning Herald on a sunny day, Ross Hughes said he checked his meter and was pleased to see his house hadn’t used any electricity, despite turning on the electrical appliances.
Although they looked forward to cheaper bills, their main motivation was a strong commitment to sustainable energy.
“Australia has so much sunshine, but federal government policy hasn’t encouraged solar power for a long time. We want to use green energy rather than coal-fired electricity which only adds to greenhouse gases.
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