Householders who have solar panels can generate free energy during the day and even sell their excess energy back to the grid. However, as we all know, solar does not provide 24-hour power. Usually, energy is purchased from the grid at night. In many cases the cost of buying energy from the grid, is greater than the feedback price, so it makes sense to install a battery to store the excess energy for use at night.
A recent episode of the ABC series Catalyst featured a story, Battery Powered Homes (2 Feb 2016), contends that within five years, more than a million Australian homes will have a battery storage system. The program explores the use of home batteries by different families, both on and off-grid. It explains the management of electricity supply across Australia and showcases the use of solar panels and battery systems in apartments and new housing developments.
One of the case studies involves installation of a battery storage system in the house of Josh Byrne (ABC presenter) in Fremantle. Curtin University and the CRC for Low Carbon Living are undertaking ongoing research at the house. Details of the installation can be found at the Josh’s House website.
Two ATSE fellows are featured in the program, Professor Peter Newman, Professor of Sustainability at Curtin University provides expert commentary and Professor Thomas Maschmeyer, Director of the Australian Institute of Nanoscale Science and Technology (University of Sydney) talks about his research into new battery technology that promises to supply inexpensive, rapid-recharging, fire-retardant and flexible batteries based on a zinc-bromide gel.