Should you get battery storage? Advice from three experts

Should you get battery storage for your home? And if you do, what should you get? Opinions differ, but there is plenty of good advice out there. Here are three different expert points of view.

1. The energy analyst: Energeia

As a specialist energy market researcher, Energeia falls into the category of ‘very few households – and especially not those households on a flat tariff – are economically better off investing in a battery system.’ At least not yet.

In the meantime, a key takeaway message from Energeia for those determined to invest now is that smaller is probably better.

“For most solar storage offerings at the moment …the optimal system is actually around 1-2kWh,” said Energeia analyst Jacob Kharoufeh at the All-Energy Australia conference in Melbourne last Tuesday.  “Initially, until the cost comes crashing down, there is a niche market for operators offering modular units,” he said.

And this is reiterated by Energeia’s Residential Solar and Storage Analysis – Part 2. “At a battery price of $1,000/kWh, which is close to today’s prices, there is a significant value proposition for a large number of households to adopt a smaller 1kWh battery,” the report says.

“The first kWh of battery capacity delivers the most value,” it says. “For small/medium solutions, there is a significant opportunity today (~2 million households), providing a significant first mover advantage, particularly for the retrofit market.”

2. The solar and storage developer

Bjorn Sturmberg, who is a co-founder and director at Kairos Power, a community solar and storage project manager, and a postdoctoral researcher at Macquarie University says the energy storage market is still in “a self-confessed early adopter phase,” with plenty of potential, and also plenty of risks.

His advice? Size your system for your individual circumstances; get many quotes; assess and compare the proposed quotes.

“This is where the rich fruit salad of technologies and companies makes it tricky to get an apples-to-apples comparison,” Sturmberg says.

“I recommend starting your assessment by writing down your priorities, with these priorities in mind, I then recommend filling out a more detailed comparison chart.

“Lastly, be curious – these systems are not yet standardised and information is key to making good decisions. Ask questions, and don’t trust those who cannot explain their proposals simply and comprehensively.”

3: The popular view…

According to Solar Analytics CEO Stefan Jarnason to make the right battery choices, you first need to invest in intelligence: a gadget – and there are many of them on the market –  that “connects up to your household consumption, connects up to your inverter, and gives you high resolution live data.”

You need all this, he said, because to decide what is the right battery will be influenced significantly by what network you’re on, by how you use your energy, by the size of the solar system you have, and also by the different tariffs.

But he also notes: “Payback is not what everybody is looking for. What they’re looking for is, what will (battery storage) do for them?”

For his customers, Jarnason says what’s important is maximising the use of solar, and minimising electricity imported from the grid.

“(Some) have cut grid use right down to 12 per cent, which makes them feel much happier,” he said.

(*Bjorn Sturmberg’s assessment tools were developed in collaboration with Louis Janse van Rensburg and the consultants from Chargeworks, with the support of the NSW Office of Environment and Heritage. The documents are licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 Licence.)

© 2016 Solar Choice Pty Ltd