Battery storage take-up in Australia to snowball forward

A NSW-based community solar and battery storage bulk buy program has been so successful that the promoters believe the battery storage sector may be in the early stages of mass-market uptake.

The campaign, led by Suncrowd, has attracted thousands of people at roadshows in regional towns in New South Wales in the last few months, and translated into what its organisers believe might already be the largest coordinated community energy project Australia.

Suncrowd’s Chris Cooper says the response has been so strong that it shows that people are clearly ready for the next stage of the energy transition – by adding affordable energy storage and smart energy software to their solar system. It may even signal the start of the early “mass market” uptake of the technology.
Cooper says Suncrowd’s community bulk buy program, which makes solar and batteries easy, accessible and at lower prices, overcomes the complexity and lack of trust that can dog such transactions.

“People want it delivered in a transparent, engaging and easy to understand format,” Cooper says, “and the community sector has a key role in facilitating this if we’re to increase uptake of important new energy technologies”

Incumbent utilities should be worried. Firstly, they have long assumed that the uptake of battery storage would be a slow burn, and wouldn’t take off – apart from a few early adopters – until the “economics make sense.” When the economics do make sense, the big retailers assume that most consumers will go to a recognised name.

But Cooper says many consumers aren’t waiting for the numbers to add up, or for the big names to get their act together. In New South Wales, this is being driven by frustration with renewable energy policy and the fact that the “60 cent-ers”, the 140,000 households on the solar bonus scheme, are about to lose their premium tariffs.

“When you are just looking at bill savings, it is now making pure economic sense in certain household situations but not all,” Cooper said.

“But what makes it still a rational decision is that many people are motivated by other “intrinsic” values – including energy independence, their support for clean energy, and their dislike of incumbent utilities.”

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© 2016 Solar Choice Pty Ltd

Giles Parkinson