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    CSIRO’s new solar system to help Australians manage power usage and reduce bills

    Nicholas Rider and Nathan Johnson


    A new hybrid solar storage system designed for homeowners will be available to Australians in January next year.

    Developed by the CSIRO and Evergen, the system includes lithium-ion batteries for storage, solar panels and a micro building management system that will operate a home’s electricity draw based on a sophisticated algorithm.

    The system will draw energy from either the battery, solar panels or grid power, depending on the weather, electricity tariffs and, ultimately, what is likely to save the occupant money.   

    In short, the technology means residences can store excess power, to offset peak load, for night-time use or to possibly even take a household off the grid.

    “You can charge up the battery during the night using the solar panels during the day, so its running off the battery during high peak time,” Dr Sam Behrens, a senior Energy Research Manager at CSIRO, explained.

    “It takes into consideration the person’s energy usage – what times they do what. It can then predict future usage and use this information to adjust storage, and when to export to the grid.”

    The power usage and weather analysis happens remotely, and the CSIRO is able to update and utilise the algorithms to optimise the system’s efficiency. In theory, says the CSIRO, the algorithm technology could also have the capability to support analysis for several houses or a block of flats as an integrated unit.

    TARGETING HOMEOWNERS

    While the Evergen system is by no means the first hybrid solar system we’ve seen, CSIRO have gone to efforts to simplify the technology and make it attractive to homeowners that may otherwise be put off by the technical sophistication of hybrid solar.

    It’s basically a plug-and-play system that can be connected to a home and grid in a single day for a starting price of $9,900 (for homes with existing solar installed).  An app will allow house owners to see how much money they are saving and will also provide information on the weather, installation updates and current power usage.

    Currently there are around 40 of the systems running around Australia. Evergreen are looking for a limited number of homeowners as part of an early release program to employ the scheme, before a second stage release in January next year. 

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