Solar PV Plus Batteries A Game Changer In The Switch To Renewable Energy?

Feb. 19, 2018 11:27 AM ETAES, EIX, FSLR, FTS, INNYY, PNW, SIEGY, SPWR, TTE, TSLA, XEL, FTS:CA271 Comments
Keith Williams profile picture
Keith Williams


  • First Solar introduces "solar peak power plant."
  • Tesla and Fluence the early players in the 100MW+ storage capacity market.
  • Peaking gas plants not competing with solar PV + batteries on price.
  • Home power storage installations triple year-on-year in Australia in 2017, equivalent to big batteries.

I've assumed for some time that there will be many components to the energy transition from fossil fuels to renewable energy, and of course, that is true. But suddenly things are crystallizing around some combination solutions. A key solution seems to be providing evening peak power, and solar PV + batteries are now outcompeting other technologies. Here I review the space and indicate that First Solar (FSLR) looks to be planning to be a big player in this space. Rooftop solar PV combined with batteries is another emerging trend.

Versatility of batteries becomes clear with adoption: Tesla (TSLA) South Australian battery

Conservative commentators had a lot of fun demonizing how small the world's biggest battery (Tesla-Neon's 100MW/129MWh) installation is, saying it would keep South Australia's grid alive for a very short time. Of course, this completely missed the point. Now that the battery is operating, even enthusiasts have been surprised at how significant even one large battery installation has been in the Australian energy market. It isn't exaggerating to say the result has been an earthquake, with a number of dramatic impacts. It has been used to help meet peak demand and to provide grid stability services, such as frequency stabilization when old fossil fuel plants suddenly drop out (as they do, especially in hot weather). The initial response to a power drop occurs within milliseconds with the Tesla-Neon battery and this occurs across the Australian grid.

Before the Tesla-Neon battery, AES (AES) Energy Storage had the record for largest battery with a 30MW/120MWh battery in California. AES has now teamed up with Siemens (OTCPK:SIEGY) in a new company named Fluence, which will give the AES operation more capacity, including its own financing through Siemens' financial services unit. To show that the new company has big ambitions, it recently

This article was written by

Keith Williams profile picture
Keith began his career as a research scientist (developmental biology, biochemistry, molecular biology) at the Australian National University, University of Oxford (UK), the Max Planck Institute for Biochemistry (Munich, Germany) and finally Macquarie University (Sydney) where he held a Chair in Biology and established the Centre for Analytical Biotechnology. Pioneering the area of proteomics (with Marc Wilkins in his group coining the term), Keith established the world’s first government-funded Major National Proteomics Facility (Australian Proteome Analysis Facility) which was involved with industrialising protein science. Keith left academe with his team to found Proteome Systems Ltd in 1999 to commercialise proteomics. The company had a strong focus on intellectual property, engineering/technology and bioinformatics. As CEO he led the company to ASX listing in 2004. Since 2005 Keith has been involved in new business development in biotech, e-health and other emerging technologies. Keith sees climate change and sustainable development as a major issue for humankind and also a major business disruptor/risk and opportunity. Keith holds a Bachelor Agr Science from the University of Melbourne and a PhD from the Australian National University. He is a Fellow of the Australian Academy of Technological Sciences & Engineering and received an AM (Member of the Order of Australia) for services to the Biotechnology Industry. He has received various industry awards including an Innovation Hero Medal from the Warren Centre for Advanced Engineering. With 300 scientific papers and many patents written, Keith has a clear view of innovation in the Biotechnology and Climate/Renewable Energy space. He is not a financial advisor but his perspective adds relevance to decision-making concerning feasibility and investment in technology innovation.

Disclosure: I am/we are long FSLR, SPWR. I wrote this article myself, and it expresses my own opinions. I am not receiving compensation for it (other than from Seeking Alpha). I have no business relationship with any company whose stock is mentioned in this article.

Recommended For You

Comments (271)

To ensure this doesn’t happen in the future, please enable Javascript and cookies in your browser.
Is this happening to you frequently? Please report it on our feedback forum.
If you have an ad-blocker enabled you may be blocked from proceeding. Please disable your ad-blocker and refresh.