Cold weather and power prices lead to record interest in batteries and solar energy

The price of home batteries has risen about 15 percent due to global demand for electric vehicles, said Anthony Kurta, president of Solar Run, whose company is one of the largest installers in Victoria.

But that doesn’t stop its customers: “The adoption has been fantastic – people are concerned that there is not enough power in the grid and they are concerned about power outages.”

One of these clients, West Heidelberg resident Robert Montirosso, is an owner/builder who has started building a 9.1 star highly energy efficient home. The all-electric house is made of 150mm thick foam panels and is unlikely to require heating or cooling, although Montirosso has installed them for comfort if required. And it now has a new 23-kilowatt rooftop solar system and the first of three batteries to be installed over the next year.

Montirosso believes gas and electricity prices will continue to rise, and he is concerned that the energy grid is struggling to meet demand. Government efforts to manage the transition from fossil fuels could take years, so in the meantime he hopes for greater energy security and serious savings.

“I’m a family guy who wants to have a nice house for his kids and partner to live in, and I’m a hard-on too,” he says.

Credit:Matt Golding

As Australia introduces more renewable energy into the grid, storage – both for the entire household and for the entire system – is critical. Large-scale batteries, such as Victoria’s “Big Battery” at Geelong, can store electricity when there is an oversupply, so that it is available when demand is high. But most large-scale batteries only have two to four hours of storage available, so longer-duration storage, such as pumped hydro, will be needed.

Community batteries are an emerging technology and last month the Yarra Energy Foundation installed Australia’s first inner-city community batteries in North Fitzroy.

Located on a street corner, the lithium-ion battery is the size of four refrigerators and is designed so that the local community of about 200 homes — including those unable to install solar on their roofs — can access and store renewable energy. . This battery absorbs and stores excess energy from solar on the roof during the day and releases it during peak evenings to displace fossil fuels. It also provides stability to the local grid.

North Fitzroy resident Laura Brinson was interested in the plan because it included people, like her, who didn’t have solar panels on their homes, and she supports getting more renewable energy into the Victoria system.

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“I’ve learned a lot more about the practical changes you can make to your home, and it’s been a really satisfying process to be involved — all my neighbors are interested.”

The NSW government does not keep detailed records of solar installation, but a spokesman said there had been more than 3,000 applications for solar systems as of June 15 under the “Energy bill buster” program, which aims to measure solar systems and energy efficiency. upgrades up to 30,000 households.

Joan and Ross Hughes decided some time ago to buy rooftop solar and a battery for their home in Kiama, two hours south of Sydney, and had the 10 kW system installed this week.

Speak with The age and The Sydney Morning Herald one sunny day, Ross Hughes said he checked his meter and was pleased to see that his house had not used electricity, despite electrical appliances being turned on.

While they look forward to cheaper bills, their primary motivation was a strong commitment to renewable energy.

  Joan and Ross Hughes at home in Kiama, New South Wales, Friday, June 24, 2022. The Hughes are a couple who had a battery and solar system installed on the roof of their home yesterday.

Joan and Ross Hughes at home in Kiama, New South Wales, Friday, June 24, 2022. The Hughes are a couple who had a battery and solar system installed on the roof of their home yesterday.

“Australia has so much sunshine, but federal government policies haven’t encouraged solar in a very long time. We want to use green energy instead of coal-fired power, which only contributes to greenhouse gas emissions.”

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