Left to right: Mr Miyamoto, Panasonic Corporation; Michael Costello, ActewAGL; Ivor Frischknecht, ARENA; Ramy Soussou, Red Energy; Paul Reid, Panasonic Australia.

Panasonic Australia has announced pilot projects with ActewAGL, Snowy Hydro’s Red Energy and Ergon Energy to install Panasonic battery technology systems in solar-installed homes for the first time. The new systems will generate efficient, environmentally responsible electricity and deliver more efficient utilisation of the electricity network.

The system will be tested at an Ergon research laboratory in Cairns, Far North Queensland followed by field tests in residential homes to gather ‘real world’ understanding of how such systems can benefit customers and interact with the electricity network.

The trial with ActewAGL will be rolled out in Canberran homes during the second half of 2015.

ActewAGL CEO, Michael Costello said, “New emerging technologies are offering exciting opportunities for customers and energy companies. We want to be part of this future and help our customers with ways to control and manage their energy.”

The Panasonic residential battery product, which includes a Lithium Ion battery storage system and high-tech network adapter device in storage cabinets around the size of a two drawer filing cabinet, is designed specifically to interact with solar PV systems.

“Changing social trends and technological advances, particularly cost reductions in solar PV systems and now battery energy storage systems, will dramatically change – even revolutionise – the way electricity is supplied to and used by our customers,” explained Ergon’s Manager Emerging Markets, Glenn Walden.

“Battery storage has the potential to provide residential customers with greater choice and control of energy use and could make our electricity network cheaper to operate in the long term,” said Mr Walden.

“It can allow solar energy produced during the day to be used at peak load times in the evening or energy to be stored at light network load times and supplied at heavy load times,” he said.

“We believe that partnering the technology understanding of Ergon and Panasonic can result in products of great value to our customers and a more efficient electricity network,” said Mr Walden.

Cairns-based Ergon Energy Manager of Technology and Development, Michelle Taylor is in the front seat advising government and industry about how to plan and prepare for the future of battery storage.

Battery storage technology is set to boom in popularity in the future, particularly as more than 100,000 Ergon customers and 400,000 Energex customers already have solar power.

According to Ms Taylor, right now residential battery systems cost between $10,000 and $45,000, ranging in size from 7 to 25 kilowatt hours and a peak capacity of 3 to 8 kilowatt hours.

There is quite a large variety to choose from. But there is no doubt there will be downward pressures on battery prices as new products and manufacturers such as Tesla and other players enter the Australian market.

The only people who have them at the moment are early adopters. Ergon records show 110 customers across regional Queensland submitted applications for a battery energy storage system (BESS) since September 2014.

In terms of time frames, the CSIRO has done some residential modelling using Townsville as a base. By 2025 they believe up to five per cent of the residential customer market will have battery storage. 

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