The Climate Council also found half of all households were predicted to adopt solar systems with battery storage, with the market potentially growing to $24 billion.

Mr Stock said the technology would be disruptive to existing network operators, and some companies were already altering the way they priced power to discourage solar and battery combinations.

“This is perverse, because battery systems, coupled with PV, can actually help networks get much better use out of their assets by smoothing out the demand on the grid,” he said.

“That should mean that network companies don’t need to invest anywhere near as much at adding capacity in the future, and they get better use out of the existing capacity.”

In May, AGL, which owns Victoria’s biggest brown coal generator, Loy Yang, announced it would market its own battery.

It has also begun offering customers solar panels without upfront fees.

“It’s really important that the traditional players in the industry see this as an opportunity instead of a threat, because if they look at this as an opportunity they’ll be thinking ‘how do they leverage this technology into their businesses?’” Mr Stock said.

“If they see it only as a threat, that will put back Australia [from] potentially being a leader in the uptake for up to a decade, and I’m not sure we as a country these days can afford to put ourselves in a position where we’re a laggard, when we could be a leader.”

Battery providing ‘zero dollar’ power bills

Michael McGarvie and his wife Maria installed a 16-bank, 14.4 kilowatt hour (kWh) carbon-gel battery system at their home at Eaglemont, in Melbourne’s east, in April.

After an energy-intensive winter, he said his house has been completely self-sufficient so far this October, meaning he owed nothing to his electricity provider after fixed costs.

He expected his house would be powered completely by his solar and battery systems for nine months of the year.

The McGarvies paid $30,000 for the system, which includes a power inverter and 24 solar panels, a cost he acknowledged was beyond the budget of many households.

“When the battery prices plummet, which they’re due to do, I think it will be an economic decision to swap to PV and batteries,” he said.

“Within 10 years, which is the predicted life [of the batteries], the technology will be so brilliant that the replacement system will be much less than 50 per cent of the price, and probably much smaller.”

The report also predicted the switch to solar would accelerate as the cost of batteries continued to fall.

Amanda McKenzie from the Climate Council said while that would be a key factor driving the take-up of battery units, people also wanted to “do the right thing”.

“People who are using solar on their roofs are people who are trying to beat their electricity bills; it’s people with mortgages, pensioners. That same group of people will be a key market for battery storage,” Ms McKenzie said.

“We know that we live in a very sunny country, one of the windiest countries in the world, and that climate change is a huge issue.

“So people are motivated both by the price, and by helping the environment, so it’s a win-win.”

By Robert Baird

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