Panasonic to Sell Energy Storage in Australia to Tap Solar Surge

(Bloomberg) — Panasonic Corp. will begin selling energy
storage systems in Australia to take advantage of the
proliferation of solar panels dotting the rooftops of homes in
the sunburned country.

Sales will begin in October after a feasibility study is
conducted with Australian power companies such as ActewAGL and
Red Energy. Rather than direct sales to consumers, Panasonic
plans to target utilities, according to Katsufumi Miyamato, an
official in charge of the project.

Energy storage is hot at the moment, especially following
last month’s announcement from Tesla Motors Inc. that it will
sell a suite of batteries to store electricity for homes,
businesses and utilities. Like Tesla’s, Panasonic’s version will
use lithium-ion batteries.

“Power companies in Australia are faced with dropping
sales as the installation of solar panels expand and yet they
still need to maintain the grids,” Miyamoto said. “We have
been exploring ways to work together” to benefit both users and
retailers of electricity, he said.

For consumers, the system allows the storage of excess
electricity from solar panels for use when the sun isn’t
shining, Panasonic said in a statement. The battery systems will
also work as a back-up power source.

Australia has led the world with about 1.4 million homes
installing solar panels on their roofs since 2001 as consumers
seek to save money and reduce reliance on the electricity grid,
according to a study last month by the Grattan Institute in
Melbourne.

Global Race

That increase in solar technology puts Australia in prime
position for battery storage, Kane Thornton, chief executive
officer of the Clean Energy Council, said by phone.

“We’re at the start of a global race, and Australia is
clearly a country where it makes a lot of sense,” said
Thornton, who estimates 1,000 to 2,000 batteries are in use in
the country today.

AGL Energy Ltd., Australia’s biggest power producer, said
last month that it would debut a 6 kilowatt-hour home storage
battery, while Origin Energy Ltd. Managing Director Grant King
said in an interview last month that his company is studying the
technology.

The Panasonic devices, which will also be available in New
Zealand, will be installed in homes, with demand and supply
controlled from offsite servers.

Panasonic is targeting 10 billion yen ($80 million) of
home-focused energy storage system sales outside Japan by fiscal
2018 annually, according to Miyamoto. Germany, Italy, and the
U.K. are seen as potential markets.

To contact the reporters on this story:
Chisaki Watanabe in Tokyo at
cwatanabe5@bloomberg.net;
James Paton in Sydney at
jpaton4@bloomberg.net

To contact the editors responsible for this story:
Jason Rogers at
jrogers73@bloomberg.net
Iain Wilson, Andrew Hobbs

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