There are actually five different battery market segments in Australia
Australia is the unequivocal leader in rooftop solar. As a result of ongoing rollout of PV across our nation, there are now almost 3.5million PV systems adorning our homes and businesses. But many of those were installed when PV was much dearer, a 3kW system of 2011 is dwarfed by the 6.6, 10, and 13kW systems that are prevalent nowadays.
There will be even greater electrical demand in our homes as homes progressively electrify their vehicles, cooking, and heating. A 3kW system isn’t large enough to power a battery of any meaningful size, and it certainly won’t drive your vehicle far.
That’s why this chart says so much. Courtesy of the CER, it shows the percentage of PV installations in 2022 that occurred at sites with a pre-existing PV system, and what happened with that system. Of 2022’s installations, 80% occurred at sites that never before hosted a PV system. But 20% of 2022’s systems were installed at locations with a pre-existing PV system. Almost none of them added panels to an existing inverter. A small percentage (6%) added a second system in parallel with their first. But most people (13% of the total) ripped out the existing system and replaced it entirely.
This as a growing trend. There are many reasons for it, but the key driver is our heritage of small systems now being insufficient for our needs. The key outcome is a growing volume of solar panels needing to be recycled. With 1.5million solar power systems (5GW worth) are over 7 years old, there will be plenty more to repower in years to come.
The chart also shows that PV installations occur concurrently with battery installations. The majority of those (71%) are installations at fresh sites. But a sizeable proportion (29%) of battery installations are at sites where an existing PV system is upgraded.
Consumer behaviour is distinctly different when ESS are involved. Proportionally more people add a second PV system in parallel when they add a battery (14%), when compared to people that upgrade their PV without adding a battery (6%). A small fraction of customers just add panels to an existing inverter (2%) but that is 4x the corresponding percentage that do without an ESS (0.5%). And an equivalent portion (13%) replace their PV system entirely.
Note the above excludes the important market for ESS retrofit to an existing, unchanged PV system. Combined together, we see only 50% of battery installations are at locations new to PV.
In case you missed it: Half the battery market already has a PV system.
Those that keep their existing PV system create vastly different challenges to those that never had PV before. This has important ramifications for inverter designers, battery salespeople, and solar businesses: what you sell needs to be appropriate for considerably different circumstances. Each state is quite unique in its breakdown of retrofit-vs-new-vs-expand/upgraded/replaced PV when an ESS is added.