As storage makes its way into Australian grids, its integration with solar is forcing utilities to adapt their business models once again.

 

Battery storage has been a heavily debated technology in the world of renewable energy lately. While it’s necessity in creating a cleaner grid of the future has been uncertain, unfortunate events such as a methane gas leak in California have led to accelerated deployments of battery storage projects. And with the headway that it’s making in the residential sector, perhaps now more than ever it’s proving it’s importance alongside wind and solar in the distributed world.

 

By absorbing extra power during the day and releasing it at night, batterie could help prevent undersupply scenarios by saving power generated during oversupply scenarios for times when it’s needed more- something that was not possible just a few decades ago. As a result, isolated nations in the Asia-Pacific region that have independent grid systems are finding massive success integrating battery storage into the grid- particularly in Australia.

 

Battery storage is an idea that has floated around New South Wales for a few years. Last year, pricing regulator in the region of New South Wales slashed the value of solar feed-in tariffs to encourage consumers to adopt battery storage and secure long-term deals with major retailers. Policy makers thought a lower tariff might encourage those who own rooftop system to find ways to use more of their electricity to meet their own needs, thereby, reducing pressure on the larger electricity grid and reducing solar PV’s intermittency. As a result, NSW’s residential solar + storage market has taken off, and the country’s energy storage market is expected to grow 37-fold between 2015 and 2020, reaching an annual installation rate of 244 megawatts. However, the majority of this growth is predominately credited as an ad-on to existing residential solar systems.

 

Since solar + storage is still a very new market, both utilities and vendors are trying to figure out how to adapt their business model. Sales partnerships are a potential option, but from an operational standpoint, processes will only get more complex. Adding multiple new technologies to a project portfolio is already becoming a more complicated matter in distributed generation. Without a comprehensive investment lifecycle management process, developing and deploying these mixed projects will result in them being over budget and unprofitable. Having an automatic system to handle pipeline and portfolio management, financial modeling, reporting and more is necessary in avoiding pitfalls such as compliance failures, data inaccuracy, missing growth targets, and more. By creating more operational efficiency throughout the investment process, developers will be able to deploy renewable technologies smarter and faster, so that we hopefully never have to scramble over remediating disasters such as gas leaks again.