Battery Makers Look Down Under as Test Market

Global energy storage companies including Panasonic, Samsung SDI and Tesla see Australia as prime ground to test new battery products and marketing pitches, Reuters reports. The companies are expanding in Australia, where battery prices are falling and which already has the world’s highest rate of rooftop solar panels.

With high residential solar use, lots of sunshine, and relatively high energy costs, the Australian market is “very much conducive to the take-up of battery storage, perhaps more than any other country in the world right now,” Panasonic Australia Managing Director Paul Reid tells Reuters.

About 1.5 million Australian households have rooftop solar, about 15% of the total number of households.   Morgan Stanley estimated last year that battery installations in Australia could reach 1 million by 2020. There are currently less than 1,000 modern battery systems installed, Reuters says.

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Australia is a similar market to the U.S., but on a smaller scale. That lets battery makers “try things out before releasing products elsewhere,” consultant Matthew Boyle tells Reuters.

Tesla launched its Australian operations in December. And Petaluma, Calif.-based Enphase Energy says the global launch of its new battery storage system is taking place in Australia.

Panasonic sees Australia as a good place to test its residential energy storage products, to develop new business models, and ultimately to help develop next-generation batteries.

Additionally, San Francisco-based “solar plus storage” firm Sunverge Energy received $20 million in funding from large publicly-listed Australian utility AGL Energy Limited in February.  According to an AGL Energy release, the strategic investment will “enhance its energy storage management capabilities and help accelerate the adoption of energy storage in the Australian market.”

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