The Australian standard for storage released in September has set the cat among the pigeons, says Hanwha Q Cells marketing and key account director Myung Shim. “We’re not happy with the policy that’s in place at this point in Australia,” she says. “Some people say it’s too unsafe, some people think it’s too strict. So where’s a happy medium? Nobody knows.”
The standard seems to have lumped all storage technology together, when in fact there is plenty of variation between the many manufacturers’ models. Shim points out that storage in Q Cells’ Q.Home system can be floor-mounted or wall-mounted, which could see installation costs vary between projects depending on layout.
Buyers and installers of the Q.Home PV-and-storage solution also have the advantage, she says, of dealing with one helpdesk for modules, inverter and battery if anything goes wrong. “They don’t have to go through the current headache they go through day in and day out,” she says, where an installer may be passed between manufacturers of various components as they each rightly or wrongly avoid blame for a system failure. “[Installers] hate having to spend their precious time, which is already limited, dealing with after-sales support.”
The Korean-headquartered company was established 20 years ago and started operations in Australia in 2009. Its focus on residential storage in Australia will shift in the second half of next year to include commercial, Shim says, as business managers understand the energy message that Australian households heard years ago.
In calendar 2019, about 1.2GW of new residential PV systems were installed in Australia, and between 650MW and 850MW of commercial PV systems. The market for commercial is small but that won’t be the case for much longer, says Shim, speaking to EcoGeneration during the All-Energy 2019 conference and exhibition in Melbourne in October.
Selling to owners of businesses is very different than selling to homeowners, however, and managers are more likely to favour low bids from manufacturers who are willing to “shave off their own skin” to win a project. “Commercial is extremely price-driven and the market for residential is value-driven,” she says. “We don’t want to be in that game.”
It’s harder for commercial buyers to contemplate a system lifetime that might extend to 25 years when they are used to weighing decisions against immediate outcomes. Also, unlike buyers of residential systems, they may not have the luxury of extending credit. “They would rather spend that extended credit on their day-to-day operational maintenance.”
Storage is a more intriguing investment proposition, Shim says. “It’s for people who appreciate value, not just a cheaper price.”