International storage suppliers grabbing for Australian market share

Around 30,000 Australian households will have solar plus battery systems operating in the next two years, according to the latest market brief from the IHSEnergy Storage Intelligence Service.

Describing it as “explosive growth”, the research firm expects Australia’s battery storage market to increase more than 10-fold this year; growing from fewer than 500 installations in 2015 to more than 5000 in 2016.

This increase now places Australia in the top five markets for distributed energy storage in 2016, behind the United States, Japan, Germany and the United Kingdom.

Between 2016 and 2018, behind-the-meter residential and commercial storage installations are expected to double each year, exceeding 200MW of installed power capable of storing 250MWh of electricity, compared to less than 3MW at the end of last year.

IHS Technology principal analyst Marianne Boust said major international storage suppliers are now competing to grab market share in Australia.

“In particular, US-based Tesla has ambitious plans, signing several partnership agreements with well-known solar retailers and established utilities; however, Sunverge, LG Chem and other suppliers are also vying for a leading position in this market,” she said.

Tesla’s launch of its Powerwall home battery with a far-reaching marketing campaign has helped unlock consumer demand for grid independence, but many other international battery manufacturers and storage system providers are also moving into the growing residential solar-energy storage market in Australia.

“An intense competitive environment is emerging, linked to the rapid growth that this market offers,” Ms Boust said.

Solar and energy storage now offers substantial growth opportunities for Australian energy retailers, such as Origin Energy, Energy Australia and AGL, which have suffered from flat or shrinking electricity sales, high churn rates and lack of visibility in the regulatory framework in the energy sector according to Ms Boust.

“In a bold move, Australian energy retailer AGL just announced it had acquired a minority stake in US storage vendor Sunverge and is now the exclusive channel partner for sales of Sunverge’s energy storage systems in Australia,” she said.