LG Chem steals a march on Tesla


South Korean appliance manufacturer LG Chem may have out-Tesla’d its illustrious U.S. rival with its new residential battery storage system.

The 6.4 kWh RESU (residential energy storage unit) will be available to Australian customers "in the next few weeks", according to a report run by the One Step Off The Grid website yesterday (Thursday), good news for customers who want an affordable battery system, given Tesla’s ultra-sexy Powerwall is reportedly sold out until at least the middle of next year.

LG Chem has stolen a march on its rivals in price too, and is offering its 6.4 kWh system for AUD$6,898 ($5,029) plus the Australian goods and services tax (GST) of 10 per cent and the cost of an inverter, which can account for up to a third of the total system cost.

That price is near the magical $1,000/kWh at which residential battery storage becomes affordable and LG Chem’s new product passes that test, according to Jeff Wehl, of Brisbane-based installer Ecoelectric.

In the One Step article, Wehl estimates a home solar system featuring 5 kW of Trina solar panels, a 6.4 kW RESU and an SMA inverter will be available for $24,000, equating to 18c/kWh over the 15 to 20-year, 6,000-cycle-plus life of the RESU claimed by its manufacturer.

With LG Chem’s headline-grabbing Tesla rival able to be doubled in storage capacity with the addition of two 3.2 kWh expansion units, costing roughly half the basic RESU cost each, the South Korean manufacturer is staking out its territory early in Australia.

The attractiveness of Australia’s energy storage market is evident with AGL Energy launching its AU Optronics system in its domestic market against rival offerings from Samsung, Enphase, Panasonic and SMA, and with German company Sonnenbatterie planning to enter the fray next year.