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First panasonic home battery trial launched in the ACT

ActewAGL has partnered with Panasonic to promote the installation of solar panel and storage battery packages across the territory.

The first installation to be carried out under a special trial program was unveiled at the home of Rachael and Vijay Turner in Forde on Friday morning.

Mrs Turner, who is also an ActewAGL employee, said she had spent "ages" in the past training Vijay and their two children to only turn the airconditioner on at optimum times.

"This is great, we can now use the airconditioner absolutely guilt free," she said.

The advent of affordable lithium ion batteries, able to store electricity for use at times of peak demand, is driving an explosion of interest in residential solar power worldwide.

Up until recently power could only be consumed as it was generated during the daytime with any surplus being sold back to the grid.

Mrs Turner, who jumped at the chance to become involved when she heard of the trial through her work, said the first 15 systems to be installed in Canberra would be $15,000 each.

She said the battery was a real game-changer, allowing her family to draw on the power generated from the 5.2 kilowatt solar array for use in the evening.

"We have an eight kilowatt hour battery," she said. "That is enough to run our airconditioner, lights, oven, television and whatever else is needed."

James Martin, a market analyst with the independent solar advisory service, Solar Choice, for the past five years, agreed the ActewAGL-Panasonic system packed a big punch.

"It's actually enough to allow an energy efficient home to go off the grid," he said.

"I'm not sure that is in the electricity company's interest in the long term.

"$15,000 is a good price for a system of that capacity but there are other packages, which would do the job for many homes, in the market at around the $12,000 price point."

Mr Martin said consumers should do their homework as not everybody wanted a system that would let them go off the grid.

"You need to work out what your electricity needs are and what your electricity goals are and then source the system that best meets your requirements."

Another factor that needs to be taken into consideration is the feed-in tariff for power that is put back into the grid.

"If you've got a good feed-in tariff, say 20 cents a kilowatt hour or more, then I wouldn't even be thinking about a battery at this stage," he said.

Some ActewAGL customers, who went solar five and six years ago, receive up to 46 cents for every kilowatt hour they put back into the grid.

"I don't know what the federal government was thinking [when they offered those rates]," ActewAGL chief executive, Michael Costello, said. "But a lot of solar power units have been installed since they stopped that."

Todd Eagles, ActewAGL's energy efficiency manager, said safety had been a high priority in developing the trial.

While the Panasonic battery packs can be installed indoors in Japan, Australian regulations require they be outside the house.

Special warnings are attached to the meter box to alert emergency services to what is installed and where it is in the event of a fire or other crisis.

Paul Reid, the manager of Panasonic Australia, said the batteries came with a seven year product warranty and a 10-year performance guarantee.

Mr Costello said ActewAGL wanted to see how the new technology worked with its network.

"While the grid will still play an important role in the supply of electricity, we believe the battery storage industry will continue to grow over the next few years as the technology continues to advance," he said.

"We know the ACT community has a high awareness of climate change and the introduction of battery storage will increasingly have a positive impact on the ACT's renewable energy targets."

Source: The Sydney Morning Herald

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