The Australian energy storage market is about to experience “explosive growth” as households seek to avoid rising electricity tariffs, says US-based research firm IHS Inc.

The latest report from the IHS Energy Storage Intelligence Service says that the number of installed storage systems will go from fewer than 500 at the end of 2015 to more than 5,000 in 2016. By 2018, around 30,000 Australian households will have solar PV combined with storage, according to the report.

While this is only the latest in a string of pronouncements about the coming storage boom in Australia, it is perhaps the most confident prediction yet in terms of specific numbers of installed systems.

The forecast for 2016 alone would place Australia in the top five markets for distributed energy storage, behind the US, Japan, Germany and the UK.

“Major international storage suppliers are now competing to grab market share in Australia,” said Marianne Boust, principal analyst for IHS Technology.

“In particular, US-based Tesla has ambitious plans, signing several partnership agreements with well-known solar retailers and established utilities; however, Sunverge, LG Chem and other suppliers are also vying for a leading position in this market.”

IHS said that between 2016 and 2018, behind-the-meter residential and commercial storage installations are expected to double each year, exceeding 200 MW of installed power compared to less than 3 MW at the end of 2015.

The company cited the marketing of Tesla’s Powerwall as a key factor in “unlocking consumer demand” for battery storage, but said many other international battery manufacturers and storage system providers are also moving into the residential solar-energy storage market in Australia.

“An intense competitive environment is emerging, linked to the rapid growth that this market offers,” said Boust.

IHS also noted that the power utilities are getting in on the game, “shifting gears” after many years of battling the growth of solar PV.

“In recent years Australian energy retailers Origin Energy, Energy Australia and AGL suffered from flat or shrinking electricity sales, high churn rates, and lack of visibility in the regulatory framework in the energy sector; however, solar and energy storage now offers substantial growth opportunities for these companies,” said IHS.