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Solar + Battery Storage Cheaper Than Grid Electricity In Australia

Zayed Energy Prize, 21 July 2015

The uptake of solar energy + battery energy storage in Australia is very likely to be "unstoppable" — owing to the fact that solar + battery storage can already be installed in large quantities in many places at a cost that's cheaper than grid electricity — according to the head of Bloomberg New Energy Finance in Australia, Kobad Bhavnagri. That prediction came recently as part of a comment that the analyst is predicting that 37 gigawatts (GW) of solar photovoltaic (PV) capacity and 33 gigawatt-hours (GWh) of battery storage capacity will be installed in the Oceanic country by the year 2040.

“Solar and battery storage is simply unstoppable,” Bhavnagri stand bluntly.

On the topic of "why," this graph (above) from Bloomberg puts it pretty clearly — solar PV + battery storage costs will continue to fall, and grid electricity will gradually get more and more expensive.

As shown in the graph, system costs are of course directly correlated to the capacity of the systems involved — more battery storage capacity equals higher costs. Even as it stands now, though, systems costs can be quite appealing from an economic point of view — not even factoring in the other reasons to go off grid.

“Storage technologies as well as PV will be able to provide costumers with electricity at a cheaper cost than the grid,” Bhavnagri continued. “And as storage gets cheaper even larger amounts of storage will be able to supply consumers at a cheaper cost to the grid. On economic fundamentals this technology is unstoppable.”

According to Bhavnagri, at least 50% of all electricity demand in the country will be supplied behind the meter by the year 2040.

Commenting on the issues facing the utility companies with regards to this change, he commented: “The business model of the networks has to change. They have got to sell services instead of kilowatt-hours. Much of what they built is redundant, resulting in excess capacity, and networks are overcharging and not delivering a commodity or service that is valuable to consumers.”