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Household batteries are not the best bet, says grid chief

By Cole Latimer / The Age / 10 October 2018

Main image: Energy experts believe Australia will see more mega-batteries, like Tesla’s installation, in communities around the country.CREDIT: DAVID MARIUZ

Australia’s energy future lies in households sharing access to larger-scale batteries and not defecting from the grid with single home batteries, energy experts say.

The rise of shared electricity – the ability to trade power between households – is supporting community-based mega-batteries, like Tesla’s 100-megawatt battery in South Australia, and putting more power in the hands of consumers.

Perry Stoneman, the global head of energy utilities for business intelligence firm Capgemini, said defecting from the grid and installing household batteries would cost more in the long run.

“If you put a battery on the house, the cost of that battery is going to be three to four times of a battery compared to if it was put on the grid,” Mr Stoneman told Fairfax Media.

“When distributed assets are connected to the grid you get more value out of them. It’s like a power ‘cloud’, where you can scale it up if you need more energy.”

The head of electricity distribution and network company Ausgrid, Richard Gross, said larger, community-based batteries will eventually supersede household batteries due to this greater scale of power-sharing, driving down prices.

“We’re seeing the growth of the energy sharing concept and using the grid as a big shared asset is what helps unlock lower prices,” Mr Gross told Fairfax Media ahead of his presentation on energy sharing at the Australian Financial Review’s National Energy Summit on Wednesday.

“Community batteries are a part of this cost saving, as these batteries have greater scale than household batteries. The key is this economy of scale and more diversity of power sources for when people want to use more electricity.

“The concept of sharing allows people the choice of their connection, because if you’re disconnected from the grid then you’re doing everything by yourself, which costs so much more.”

He said this growth of energy sharing can be seen with the rise of trading platforms such as PowerLedger and Greensync, which allow households to sell their energy back to the community, with the grid and larger batteries acting as the network facilitating this.

Mr Stoneman said, “you can’t do this energy trading if you’re not connected to the grid and your battery is inside your house for energy consumption.”

Larger, grid-scale batteries are forecast to eventually replace household batteries.CREDIT: JASON SOUTH

He said these community-based batteries, built and supported with power utilities, would provide more reliability and ensure those unable to afford solar and household batteries aren’t left paying for the costs of the electricity network.

The Australian Energy Market Operator has previously raised concerns of growing inequity caused by higher power prices, as those unable to install solar or battery storage are left to pay the costs of maintaining the system of poles and wires.

“You can’t simply say [to those without solar], too bad for you because you have to pay for the entirety of the networks,” AEMO chief executive Audrey Zibelman said.

Energy Stuff helps provide battery solutions to residential solar systems. Call us for further information 1300 656 205 or go to our website at https://energystuff.com.au/

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