Over the last decade, the uptake of rooftop solar PV systems in Australia grew almost 100 times. We have, easily, the world’s largest operating solar capacity per capita – standing at 650 watts per person. This beats out second place Germany, which is another country recognised as a leading adopter of solar power, which has 580 watts per person of installed solar (Mazengarb, 2020).
The growth of our renewable energy industry is remarkable, looped in a self-perpetuating economic cycle. Although early adoption of solar technology was primarily driven by rooftop installations supported by rebates and state government’s policies; increased demand enticed more supply, which in turn contributed by attracting investments, research, new technology and broader interest to the industry. Much of this increase continues to derive today from the small-scale solar sector, which added more than 3GW of new capacity in 2020, breaking records for four years in a row (Clean Energy Australia, 2021).
The advent of solar battery storage
An average household doesn’t use all the solar energy produced by their rooftop installation over a day. This is why in 2008, the Council of Australian Governments (COAG) issued National Principles for Feed-in Tariff Schemes, where all Australian governments agree that small-scale solar generators have the right to export electricity to the grid in return for payment (Loynes, 2014). The rest is history as they say: all of that excess solar power coming from the panels, found itself irremediably being sold back to the grid, and the household would receive money in exchange for it.
Back in the day, premium tariffs of up to 60 cents per kWh further supported a solar installation boom. Incentives were good and spirits were high. Fast forward to today, and as an example, the minimum feed-in tariff rates will drop in Victoria to 6.7c/kWh from 1 July 2021 – the lowest rate since 2016. To make matters worse, these feed-in payments are usually coupled with high retail rates for electricity sourced from the grid. It seems like the days of solar rooftop PV installations alone as a sound investment are long gone.
But wait! Solar batteries came to change that game by helping homeowners store some of the excess power they produce, enabling them to self-consume during periods of high costs (like at night). Most modern batteries allow you to practise energy self-reliance, decrease your dependence on the grid, and save money off bills. Smart solar batteries like the Hive, Tesla Powerwall, Eveready or Alpha ESS come equipped with apps that help you monitor your system from anywhere in the world (provided they’re connected to the Internet).
Solar batteries in 2021
Moreover, optimisation software like Evergen’s Intelligent Control gives the solar battery an advantageous edge over the rest. Some of the added benefits include:
- Performance optimisation through 42 different point of data – including the weather, usage patterns, market trends, etc.
- Charging with off-peak power to use it when the grid’s electricity prices are high
- Direct access to the spot market – meaning you see 100% of the revenue generated
- Being part of a Virtual Power Plant
By the end of 2020 alone, Aussies installed more than 23,000 small-scale batteries in their homes, with a combined capacity of 238 MWh (or 238 thousand kWh!). Even amid the looming economic recession and the C19 crisis, solar battery installations are expected to grow for many more years. Just like with solar PV installations, the best is yet to come.