People power shines for bulk-buy energy storage program
The winds of change blew through Newcastle on Thursday night when the world’s largest coal port played host to Australia’s first bulk-buy of renewable home energy storage systems.
More than 600 people packed into Newcastle City Hall for the bulk-buy launch presented by program partners SunCrowd and Climate Action Newcastle.
The bulk-buy program allows early adopters to obtain new storage systems at greatly reduced prices.
It follows Climate Action Newcastle’s similar and successful bulk-buy of solar power systems in 2008, which at the time was the largest such program in Australia.
A decade of increased prices from traditional power suppliers and a concurrent drop in the price of solar means renewable energy is a practical and competitive alternative for households.
SunCrowd co-founder and chief energy officer Chris Cooper unveiled a number of home energy systems including two battery packages that could radically change the way Australians use energy.The system overcomes the problem of solar power’s peak production happening in the day while peak demand is in the evenings.
“Instead of sending our solar power back to the grid batteries allow us to store it and use it when we need it,” Chris said.
“That means you’re increasing your energy self-sufficiency, lowering your fossil fuel dependence and lowering your bills.
He said the new technologies solved the problem of renewables providing baseload power for homes.
“The exciting thing about batteries is they turn your home into a mini solar power station, we can control when we release our solar energy, it’s essentially household level baseload power,” he said.
“Batteries are a gateway technology and they allow us to build a new energy system where the people are at the centre and they are not just customers but they are empowered “prosumers”, that’s a producer who can also consume.”
The storage systems unveiled started with the entry level 1.2kW Enphase unit installed for $2999 and with a modular design allowing future expansion should a household’s energy need increase. The Californian-based solar technology company’s new Lithium ion phosphate unit has a 10-year guarantee but is expected to provide up to 20 years of operation.
“Customers who participate in this bulk buy will be a among the first to access this new product anywhere in the world,” Chris said.
For larger energy storage requirements Suncrowd has opted for the Korean-made 6.4kW LG Chem Resu battery.
The lithium ion unit is equal to five of the smaller Enphase units but at about a third of the size of a Tesla power wall it remains - for its capacity - the most compact home energy storage product on the market.
For the bulk-buy program the battery comes packaged with a Sola X inverter for $8,999, making it highly competitive against rival systems like the Tesla Powerwall at $12,500.
It also comes with a 10-year warranty but has a 16-year expected lifespan.
The manufacturer LG Chem is one of the world’s largest battery producers and has been trusted by car makers like Hyundai, Ford and Volvo to power their hybrid and electric vehicles.
With hundreds of households either expressing interest or signing up on the night Climate Action Newcastle convenor Su Morley said she was really stoked at the community’s response to the bulk-buy program.
“It shows that there is a lot of interest in people being independent with their energy and doing their own energy storage solutions,” she said.
“People want to get off the big retailers because they are sick of them ruling the market.”
“This campaign is a great example of how effective local community networks are in promoting new and inventive approaches to the roll-out of renewable energy solutions.”
Due to the overwhelming public interest in the bulk-buy program a second information night for Lake Macquarie residents has been set for the Club Macquarie Function and Accommodation Centre on Wednesday, July 6.