Update from the Energy sub-group – June 2015
Gawler Transition to Solar
Transition Gawler, in conjunction with Down to Earth Sustainable Solutions, have helped 10 houses in Gawler and surrounding areas install quality solar panels at great prices. So far we have installed a total of 26.23kW of solar panels, generating over 40 megawatt hours of electricity each year! If you would like to find out more about this program, contact Tom (0411403257) or Rachel (0407775868), email firstname.lastname@example.org or check out the Facebook group: https://www.facebook.com/groups/GTransitionToSolar/
Everyone is wondering – how will the recently announced PowerWall change the way we power our homes? The PowerWall is a small off-grid battery system using lithium ion batteries (traditional off-grid systems use lead-acid batteries). Lithium ion is definitely the future of storage systems and companies like Tesla, Samsung and Bosch are leading the way and making this technology more affordable for the domestic market. Tesla/Panasonic’s battery manufacturing facility currently being built will double the world’s production capacity and hopefully drive down prices as well.
It is likely to take quite some time for household Li-ion systems to obtain the necessary approvals to be installed in Australia, and with considerable demand in other parts of the world it could be a year or more before we see them here.
In terms of storage capacity, a Tesla storage system would meet most residential applications. It is useful to understand the system’s limitations if you are looking to use batteries as a primary energy source. The Tesla system has a limit to continuous supply of 3000W. This means you can’t boil water for a cup of coffee while making toast and have someone straightening their hair at the same time, as well as run your fridge and lights. You need to plan energy use for when the sun is shining, and distribute your energy loads throughout the day.
Potential owners of these types of systems will need to understand their energy appliances and their energy demands before buying a battery system.
How to get battery-ready?
We suggest that you first reduce your energy consumption as much possible without compromising your life-style.
Make sure you understand your energy appliances and energy demands. You can install an electricity monitor to help visualize your energy usage patterns.
Buy a solar system with an inverter from a company that has developed an alliance with battery system producers, such as Fronius or SolarEdge with Tesla. This will give you an option to work towards your ultimate goal and install the batteries later.
If you are really keen to get started, re-wiring some circuits in your house means you can install a smaller battery system to cover just some of your appliances and purchase more battery capacity later as you are able.
Lastly, understand that while going off grid in an urban setting is a very cool idea, the cost of these systems at this stage just doesn’t stack up unless it is an ideological decision. Ask the question again in two years and you might get a very different answer!