New safety guidelines proposed by Standards Australia on the use of batteries may seriously impact the booming home solar storage market, according to battery manufacturers
Draft guidelines to be released shortly for public comment are expected to place restrictions on the installation of battery packs supplied by companies such as Tesla and Alpha-ESS.
Battery manufacturers fear homeowners may be forced to move their battery units outside with new safety guidelines banning their installation within homes or garages.
Alpha-ESS managing director Dong Lin believes these restrictions may force more than half of the current players out of the market, seriously impacting Australia’s solar storage industry. Australia installed about 6500 storage units in homes last year, with Alpha-ESS supplying about 800 of them. There have been no reported incidents. The market was expected to grow to 20,000-30,000 units this year, said Lin.
The new draft guidelines may require battery units to be housed in a bunker outside the home. Observing that the materials used in the batteries were safer than those in mobile phones and laptops, he said there was very little risk of these units catching fire or exploding.
Standards Australia, the nation's peak standards body, said the new rules "will enable the safe installation of battery energy storage systems".
The introduction of new safety guidelines in the home solar storage segment is expected to disrupt the nascent storage industry by reducing battery sales, especially at a time when consumers are progressively reducing their reliance on grid-supplied electricity amid soaring energy prices. Given the extra cost impact, consumers may reconsider the idea of adding storage to their solar systems.
The draft guidelines proposed by Standards Australia are more restrictive than most nations; for instance, Germany has installed 50,000 such units inside homes. Commenting on the extra cost factor, Lin says the new guidelines may add about $5000 to the cost of a typical household system with 5-kilowatt of solar panels and 5 KW-hour storage capacity, which is currently priced at about $12,000-$13,000.
Additionally, placing lithium-ion batteries outside the home may also reduce their performance. Lin explains they should ideally be installed where the homeowner has control over the environment, and the units should be shielded from extremes of cold, heat and humidity.