Japan primed for cheap energy storage thanks to Chinese battery giant

China's CATL batteries set to charge Japan.

Chinese electric vehicle battery maker CATL will soon sell home solar batteries to a Japanese market starved of cheap energy storage.

CATL, the world’s largest maker of electric vehicle batteries aims to slash the price of Japanese home batteries by providing components. CATL’s Japanese partner Next Energy & Resources will then assemble them.

With a population of 127 million people, and as the world’s third largest economy, Japan is an enormous marketplace for cheap energy storage solutions.

Cheap energy storage shakes up expensive market

A 10 kWh solar battery currently costs between $28,000 and $36,000 in Japan, including installation. CATL hopes to sell equivalent sized batteries for $13,250.

Cheap energy storage set to flood Japan from China.

Japan is phasing out solar FiTs and bracing for an influx of cheaper solar batteries from China. Image: Pixabay

CATL aims to kick off sales by the middle of 2020. The Japanese market for solar batteries has been stunted by high prices. This then makes householders think twice about buying them.

Cheaper energy storage from China should also force Japanese manufacturers to offer less expensive batteries to compete.

CATL produced a total of 21.31 GWh of energy storage capacity in 2018. It now aims for 50 GWh in 2020.

The corporate giant, backed by the Chinese Government, became the world’s top EV battery maker in 2017. Its clients include BMW, Volkswagen and Toyota.

FiTs phase-out to boost Japanese battery market

In Japan, some 2.5 million homes will be coming off 10-year lucrative feed-in tariff (FiT) contracts beginning in November.

As a result, this will create excess power, as well as incentives for homes to use batteries as cheap energy storage for their excess solar energy.

Most Japanese solar power is generated under a third-party owner model. This means utilities set up solar panels on homes and factories.

Participating houses and businesses get smaller power bills without having to pay for their own solar installation.

China kicks goals in renewable energy

Meanwhile, research shows air pollution in China reduced the country’s potential solar energy output by 11-15 per cent between 1960 and 2015.

However, the powerhouse economy is pushing renewable energy boundaries in several other ways:

  • Continuing to cap and control polluting coal consumption.
  • Developing a space power plant will then captures solar energy and beams it back to earth.
  • Opening the world’s first solar highway which also generates energy.
  • Installing 45 per cent of total global solar power capacity in 2018.

Back home, households are installing batteries like the Tesla Powerwall 2 and Enphase as cheap energy storage. As a result they can store solar energy to use at night or when their electricity costs are at peak rates.