Report: Australian network operators have 'real incentives' to adopt battery storage
- Australian transmission and distribution network operator AusNet Services released the results of a three-year trial that tested residential battery storage for a broad set of uses, Renew Economy reports.
- AusNet found that exporting excess energy at peak times could help delay or offset costly network investments, and that a residential customer with solar panels could save about $1500 in Australian dollars (AUD) over a five-year span using battery storage, which amounts to roughly $1100 in American currency. Dynamic pricing could help boost the savings by about 33%.
- The same study also found that a network operator could see about twice as much in savings over the same period, depending on the location and use cases. However, the trial found battery storage is still "generally uneconomic" today, even after factoring in customer and network benefits.
Australian's battery storage market is set to reach 244 MW of annual installed capacity by 2020 from a base of 7 MW that was expected to be installed in 2015, according to a GTM Research report. While Australia's market is unique, AusNet's recent findings could have implications for the U.S. energy storage market.
Australia has been called a "proving ground" for solar-plus-storage, with changes in energy tariffs potentially leading to a storage boom similar to the United States. Australia's rooftop solar penetration is among the highest in the world, with about 13% of homes in the country hosting solar panels on their roofs. In a similar fashion to Hawaii, the power sector is watching Australia as an early test-case for how to deal with this level of solar penetration.
AusNet is an Australian energy company operating three different networks in the territory of Victoria. The company decided on a three-year trial to test residential battery storage systems in a broad range of uses to see how they could benefit the country's abundant solar resource.
The testing included exploring how batteries could manage peaks during network demand periods, improve residential solar integration and flattening customer demand profiles, Renew Economy reports.
“The findings show that network businesses have real incentives to support the take-up of this new technology,” said AusNet spokesman Alistair Parker, according to Renew Economy. “There are an estimated 1.4 million solar systems in Australia that, if paired with residential battery systems, could revolutionise the role these customer assets play at the macro-grid level."
Even so, the report cautions that while its findings could incentivize residential solar-plus-storage, "fair and efficient" adoption of the technology is still a "massive challenge" for industry and policymakers.
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