Demand for ‘plug and play’ home storage systems surge

Enphase AC Battery

Californian battery group Enphase Energy has set its sights on a big chunk of the Australian home storage market as it prepares to roll out its modular AC batteries in the coming months.

Enphase is counting on the December 31 expiration of a rich 60¢ Kwh New South Wales feed-in-tariff enjoyed by about 150,000 NSW homes to drive sales, and has upgraded its order book for the first 12 months to 70,000 batteries in Australia and New Zealand, from 60,000 just a few months ago.

Nathan Dunn, managing director Asia Pacific of the Nasdaq-listed company, said half the batteries ordered by its army of 1000 installers were destined for homes and businesses in NSW, where all solar households will face a 4¢ to 8¢ Kwh feed-in-tariff from January 1.

“The likely scenario is we’ll see a marked spike in the fourth quarter of this year,” Mr Dunn told The Australian Financial Review.

“There’s at least 150,000 homes out there in NSW that will need to look to some kind of solution to offset that loss of the 60¢ tariff.”

The success of the US start up relies on the ease of installing its “plug and play” system – the batteries come with an internal inverter to convert the power in the battery to AC current – and the scalability of its 25kg modular 1.2Kwh batteries to help drive its sales.

Enphase is taking on products already in the Australian market such as Tesla Powerwall, LG Chem and Panasonic batteries – which typically have 3-10Kwh of storage capacity and can weigh more than 100kg – and solar storage management systems from companies like Canberra-based Reposit Power and Melbourne-based Greensync.

Enphase forecasts 70,000 batteries – equivalent to around 30,000 homes based on two or three batteries per installation – would amount to a significant slice of the market. Bloomberg New Energy Finance expects battery prices to halve by 2020 and 350,000 batteries to be installed in Australia by 2025 but this is expected to start slowly and be heavily backloaded.