Are solar batteries worth it?

Solar Batteries

Across WA we have truly embraced the world of solar with almost 30% of homes across Perth and the South West with a roof top solar system. Solar has provided us with some amazing environmental and financial benefits, though it has left us wanting more!

With the cost of energy currently at 28.8 cents per kWh (including GST), many Western Australian’s are attempting to use as much power as possible generated by their solar systems throughout the day. Even those not home during the day have adopted the use of system timers on key appliances around the home, ensuring these run during the day when solar power is being generated. However once the evening comes for many of us we will be purchasing energy back from the grid.

For some homeowners they will find that the entire or majority of the cost of the power used in the evenings is covered by the money they have earnt through the Renewable Energy Buyback Scheme (REBS).

What is the Renewable Energy Buyback Scheme (REBS)?

REBS gives customers an opportunity to earn money simply by exporting excess solar back into the grid. At the time of writing this article Synergy were buying excess energy placed back to the grid at 7.8 cents per kWh (including GST).

For larger households that are using more energy, this means while their energy bills are reduced through the REBS, they would be much better off if the excess energy produced during the day could be stored ready for use in the evening.

This is where battery storage comes in!

For the average Australian to add a solar battery system to their home doesn’t currently make economic sense. This is due to the payback period being 15 years or more, with most battery systems having an expected lifespan on 10 years!

However things could be set to change……… as more affordable solar solutions have been hitting the WA market, many West Aussies have been opting to purchase larger solar systems than their household requires. This means that more and more energy is being feedback into the grid. This increase in excess energy has caused some concerns over the grid's stability. The use of batteries however could provide a simple solution to managing this energy & provide support to the grid.

This potential issues along with the demand coming from customers is expected to drive more affordable battery systems to the market over the next few years.

In addition to this Western Power and Synergy have also teamed up and launched a community shared battery trial called PowerBank.  To date they have installed three community –scale batteries utlising Tesla technology in Meadow Springs, Falcon and Ellenbrook.

How does the PowerBank work?

Customers in the trial have been allocated virtual storage in the battery. As their solar panels generate solar power during the day, up to 6kwh or 8kwh of excess power is automatically transferred to the battery.

From 3pm to midnight households can draw energy back from the battery to power up their homes, covering the energy-use peak hours between 3pm and 9pm. At midnight, any excess power still in the battery is returned to the grid, with the householder paid the standard feed-in tariff.

If these PowerBanks prove to be successful this could open up a whole new affordable battery solution for customers, while providing the grid with any support it may require in managing excess energy.

With batteries being a long awaited addition to solar systems across Perth, those of you out there that have had solar installed within the last 5 years should have no problems with retrofitting a battery to your system. This means once batteries become more economical, the money you have saved can help towards ridding power bills completely with the addition of a solar battery system!

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