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As feed-in tariffs end and battery prices fall, homes ‘hungry’ for batteries: ARENA CEO

The winding back of state-based solar feed-in tariffs could leave one million-plus Australian solar households “hungry” for energy storage, at the same time as battery costs start to decline, the Australian Renewable Energy Agency chief has warned.

ARENA CEO Ivor Frischknecht said in an op-ed last week that these two factors would “drive an energy storage megashift,” as households looked for an option that lets them store and use the power they generate, rather than being forced to immediately sell it back to power companies for almost nothing.

“It’s difficult to overstate just how quickly things are moving in the energy-storage space,” Frischknecht said, noting that utilities were coming out with solar and storage options. “Within months, every major solar installer will also offer a storage product,” he added.

Frischknecht says that while ARENA is excited by the potential benefits to consumers this solar plus storage market will offer, it is the other side of the equation – the upside for the network – that is the Agency’s real focus.

“That’s because advances in storage hold the promise of removing a key criticism of renewable electricity: its oft-discussed supply variability, driven by the simple reality that the sun isn’t always shining and the wind is not always blowing.

He said ARENA’s recentl report by AECOM stressed the need for industry players such as energy retailers, networks and technology suppliers to see these changes as an opportunity rather than a threat.

“They can undoubtedly play a role in minimising the cost of maintaining a reliable network and mitigate the gold plating that has occurred in the past,” he said.

As for those one million-plus Australian households that already have rooftop solar, Frischknecht says they need to be convinced “their newly affordable home battery system shouldn’t be seen as an enabler of them leaving the grid.”

“Doing so would, in most situations, cost them and those who stay connected more money, and those who leave will run the risk of having a less reliable energy supply. We have to get the message out to consumers that participating in the grid makes it stronger and, in turn, helps further promote the uptake of renewables,” he wrote.

[Solar Choice recently published an article summarising when the feed-in tariff programs in each state end: When do the solar feed-in tariffs end?]

Top image via Magellan Power / Reposit Power

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