Energy storage: are we there yet?

As a solar industry analyst, technologist and electric motorcycle owner, you would expect me to be optimistic about where storage is up to. The reality is, every time I turn around, the future has gotten closer than even I thought possible.

Although Australia is lagging the world in the adoption of solar storage, recent conversations with several companies have highlighted that storage is going to be here faster than we expected. Prices have fallen, packages and offers are becoming increasingly prevalent and the pay back periods being talked about are now under 5 years.

For storage to become more widely adopted there are several key things that need to happen. The first is access to great products. In Australia there are now around 30 different packages available from a variety of suppliers. Most are quickly switching to Lithium based batteries because they offer deeper discharge abilities and are less toxic than lead acid batteries.

However, a key component of lithium storage systems in the control and battery management electronics; consumers should ensure they are dealing with companies who really understand the technology to get maximum life.

The second is the hardware that controls energy flows into and out of the battery; the inverter charger. Luckily, these have been around for decades and todays units are substantially more robust and sophisticated than in the early days. A core function that I would certainly look for is a smart phone app so that I can monitor and control when and where my energy is flowing, and a number of suppliers already offer these products.

The third thing that is crucial is regulations. At the moment, Australia electricity utilities have either no rules or very rudimentary rules around the use of batteries for solar storage. Much work is being done to change this and some trials are taking place but for the time being consumers should talk with their retailer about what their rules are before diving in.

Solar storage is coming very quickly and offers huge benefits to consumers; get ready people!

top image credit: Kristoferb via wikipedia

© Solar Choice Pty Ltd 2014

Nigel Morris