Tesla in Australia 2018/2019 – Facts & Figures

Tesla have announced their Q2 earnings which notes that they have a ‘crazy’ growth outlook despite cell shortage and a slow deployment of their solar roof. Tesla in Australia is still very far behind the USA, but what can we expect the future to bring?

Tesla in Australia – 2018/19

What can Australians expect from Tesla over the next financial year? We’ve had an agonisingly slow rollout down under and there are many people waiting to see how long it takes for the solar roof to make its way out here.

With the cell shortage that has crippled availability of the Tesla Powerwall 2 in Australia, is it worth waiting for the Powerwall 3 instead? There hasn’t been any announcement yet so it really depends on your personal situation. 

The Tesla Gigafactory in Buffalo, New York is in working on speeding up production of the Solar Roof. They hope to produce 1 GW of solar products at the site annually beginning in 2019, and Tesla has said that it could even reach 2 GW/year down the track. The Gigafactory produces standard solar panels, along with the Solar Roof.

So if you have a bit of patience and are happy to wait until 2019, it’s fine to wait. Solar batteries still have a bit of a ways to go before they are a no-brainer for people to install, let alone the solar roof. But in the meantime, there are certainly solar roof alternatives like the Tractile solar roof tile or the Sonnen/Bristile partnership which they’ve called ‘Solartile‘. Have you got any questions or any experience with any of these solar shingles? Please let us know in the comments. 

Where is the Tesla Solar Roof?

Tesla in Australia - Solar Roof via @Toblerhaus on Twitter
Tesla in Australia – Tesla Solar Roof 2018 Installation (California) (source: @Toblerhaus on Twitter)

We’ve written about the Tesla Solar Roof before – and we’ve also written about its place in the Australian ecosystem, given that they’re rare as hen’s teeth in America, let alone over here. According to PV Magazine USA, it’s probable that the Tesla Solar Roof will not help their bottom line (Energy Generation and Division Revenues) until halfway through 2019 at the earliest. The reasons for this are for safety and the time lag it’s taking to get all their ducks in a row.

Tesla CEO Elon Musk clarified:

“It takes a while to confirm that the Solar Roof is going to last for 30 years and all the details work out, and we’re working with first responders to make sure it’s safe in the event of a fire and that kind of thing. So it’s quite a long validation program for a roof which has got to last for 30, 40, 50 years, but we also expect to ramp that up next year at our Gigafactory 2 in Buffalo. That’s going to be super exciting.”

According to Musk ‘several hundred’ Solar Roofs have been deployed, are being installed or scheduled for install, and international expansion (i.e. Australia!) is slowly rolling out.

PV Magazine have also written about some of the first solar roof installations in the USA – please click here to read some more about them.

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Is There A Solar Battery Rebate In Australia?

We’ve heard whispers of a solar battery rebate doing the rounds. Is Australia about to see its own energy storage subsidy, and, if so, how would the potential rollout of that be implemented?

Solar Battery Rebate in 2018

Solar Battery Rebate in Australia - Tesla Powerwall
Solar Battery Rebate in Australia – Will it include the Tesla Powerwall 2?

We’ve written about solar battery growth before – the sector has seen a sharp rise in 2017 which has continued into 2018. Will the government consider incentivising households and businesses to install energy storage, helping add stability to the grid, lower skyrocketing electricity costs and assist Australia in reaching our Renewable Energy Target? Time will tell. States like Queensland already have the Affordable Energy Program where 5,000 Queenslanders will see an interest-free loan for solar systems/battery storage, so a scheme just for storage doesn’t seem out of the question.

Whilst nothing official has been announced yet, there are plenty of whispers about the government playing with solar power rebates – feed-in-tariffs are dropping sharply. Will we see discounted deals on solar batteries? As they’re not currently at the point where ROI (Return On Investment) is ubiquitously positive, energy storage uptake in Australia is still finding its feet. If the government gives it a boost how much will that cost and what kind of value do we put on the financial/social impact of embracing renewable energy?

In the United States, The federal solar tax credit, also known as the investment tax credit (ITC), allows you to deduct 30% of the cost of installing a solar energy system from your taxes. The ITC applies to residential and commercial systems, and there is no cap on how much you can spend. Should Australia try something like this, or is our current system more effective?

Solar Rebates/Subsidies In 2018 

Here are some of the various offers federal/state government are using to try and get people to embrace solar. Any questions about a specific scheme? Please leave a comment below and we’d be happy to look into your query.

In terms of batteries, we don’t have a specific incentive to install it, either as an add-on to existing solar system or as part of a new system.The Battery Energy Storage System incentive provides eligible South East Queensland households with a one-off $50 payment for registering eligible systems on the Queensland Government battery storage database.

Please note that information about rebates and subsidies can go out of date quite quickly so ensure you double check before purchasing – you can learn more about current available solar rebates in Australia by visiting the “Your Energy Savings” website, which has been set up by the federal government – simply click here to visit

Interested in learning more about solar batteries available in Australia? Click to learn more about Tesla Powerwall competitors and alternatives.

In the meantime, we’re still waiting to see what sort of battery rebate may be offered. Since Australia already has a very strong solar panel presence, it makes sense to work on maximising storage as well as generation.

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Natural Solar – Blockchain Powered Community Solar

Australian company Natural Solar have advised that they will be using the power of blockchain technology its its latest community solar offering – a new housing development just outside of Sydney which will see 12 homes share power with each other.

Natural Solar

Natural Solar - Blockchain Powered Community Solar
Natural Solar – Blockchain Powered Community Solar (source: naturalsolar.com.au)

Nine are reporting that each home will have a 5kWp solar system and an 8kwh sonnenBatterie 8 installed. Homeowners will be guaranteed up to 20 years of $0 power bills, but they will have a $30 / month bill to sonnenFlat for the program. Power will be shared between the 12 houses and any energy movement will be recorded on the blockchain to record and track the efficacy of of the project. Is 12 houses enough? What happens when it’s 4pm on a Tuesday and 8 houses have air conditioning on? 

If this is a bit complicated to understand, Chris Williams, CEO and Founder of Natural Solar,  explains the concept as a ‘super battery’:

“Utilising Blockchain technology, we are able to join all batteries together to create one larger ‘super-battery’ that can power all homes in one development.

“An advantage of this is for the first time ever in Australia, residents will now be able to borrow power from their neighbours who have excess stored in their own battery, creating a complete sharing economy amongst houses.”

What happens if the energy runs out?

This question was put to Williams who said that, although this model means the developer won’t have to pay for expensive grid upgrades, it’ll still have access at all times: 

“In the event houses need additional power and they can’t borrow extra from their neighbours, they are able to automatically draw this from the grid. If the home is signed up to the sonnenFlat energy plan, this will be free of charge for most houses, provided this fits within their annual electricity consumption.”

The project is set to launch by September – so watch this space and we’ll keep you updated on the progress of Natural Solar’s great project.

 

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Redflow batteries in Fiji – to power Digital TV rollout.

Redflow batteries in Fiji – Redflow Limited have shipped $1.2m of Redflow ZBM2 batteries to assist Fiji in rolling out digital TV for its population, according to a press release by the Brisbane/Thailand based company.

Redflow batteries in Fiji

Auckland-based telecommunications infrastructure company Hitech Solutions will install the Redflow batteries in Fiji and have ordered US $1.2m of Redflow’s ZBM2 zinc-bromine flow batteries to store and supply renewable energy which will then power the island’s digital TV.

Redflow Batteries in Fiji - Hitech CEO Derek Gaeth
Redflow Batteries in Fiji – Hitech CEO Derek Gaeth (source: Redflow Press Release)

Hitech will install 5-60 ZBM2 batteries at more than 10 sites in Fiji. Many of these locations are on hills and don’t have access to the country’s electricity grid, so they require energy storage instead.

Redflow CEO Simon Hackett said in a press release that this repeat large sale (Hitech bought the batteries in two separate orders) shows how ZBM2 batteries can displace conventional lead-acid batteries for network power applications in demanding and/or remote environments. “

We are delighted that Hitech has again chosen Redflow batteries,” he said. “This second major sale confirms the unique advantages of our zinc-bromine flow batteries for this high-workload deployment in the tropics. The ZBM2 excels in hot environments and for applications that require high cycle depth and cycle frequency, such as the deployment Hitech is undertaking. This sort of environment and use case wears out lead-acid batteries in relatively short order, requiring their frequent replacement, whereas ZBM2s thrive on heat and hard work.

“We look forward to working with Hitech to ensure its imminent deployments of remote energy systems are successful in a variety of site sizes.”

Redflow’s 10 kilowatt-hour (kWh) ZBM2 is, according to the manufacturer, the world’s smallest zinc-bromine flow battery. The ZBM2 runs at a native 48 volts DC, which means it’s simple to install and deployable in scalable parallel clusters which means high availability, high scale deployments at the largest sites.

The ZBM2 battery comes with a 10-year or 36,500 kWh warranty – a much longer operating life than lead-acid batteries, which are typically replaced every 18-36 months when used in warm climates.

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New South Wales solar feed-in tariff to drop by 44%

The New South Wales solar feed-in tariff is set to drop by 44% after IPART, the state pricing regulator, confirmed previously drafted cuts to the state’s feed-in tariff benchmark for 2018/19.

New South Wales solar feed-in tariff

New South Wales solar feed-in tariff IPART
Click to view New South Wales solar feed-in tariff changes via IPART (source: IPART.NSW.GOV.AU)

The regulator, IPART (Independent Pricing and Regulator Tribunal for NSW) advised in May that they will be recommending heavy drops in the tariff with the release of a draft publication entitled ‘Solar feed-in tariffs: the value of electricity from small-scale solar panels in 2018-19. 

It looks like the solar feed-in tariff drops will be going ahead – so let’s take a look at what this means for people with solar, and people without:

As per Renew Economy, IPART justified their slashing of the prices in advising that all customers would be affected if they didn’t act.

“We set the benchmark range based on our forecast of the average price that retailers would pay for solar exports across the day (weighted by solar output) if they were buying this electricity on the wholesale spot market,” the report, released yesterday, said.

“We consider that this is reasonable, and that a higher benchmark would lead to unacceptable outcomes.

“Specifically, if retailers were required to pay more than this for solar exports, they would be paying more than they pay for wholesale electricity on the NEM.

“As a result, retail prices for all customers would need to be higher to recover the difference,” the report continued.

Those who have already invested in solar are a little less magnanimous about the changes – with Shani Tager from Solar Citizens conveying her opinon via email to RenewEconomy: 

“The decision to cut the feed-in tariff punishes solar owners, it’s like getting a pay cut for working overtime,”

That particular analogy might be a bit of a stretch but it’s interesting IPART aaren’t considering the ‘social price’ of carbon like Victoria are currently doing. This has raised the ire of the Greens as well:

“If the NSW government are serious about supporting renewable energy then they should be change the criteria to assess solar feed-in tariffs to recognise the multitude of benefits solar energy brings,” Greens MP Tamara Smith said.

To sign off, IPART gave us a hint of things to come and how they plan to deal with the situation in the future:

“We consider that solar customers should be treated like any other generator in the competitive electricity market, which means that they take or pay the market price – and are not otherwise compensated or penalised for their impact on these prices,” the report said.

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Aurora Power Plant – thermal power plant in SA

The $650m Aurora Power Plant in South Australia is under threat as the US company Solar Reserve which will be responsible for building it haven’t raised the required funds. The solar thermal power plant was to generate 150MW of power and seemed in safe hands with Solar Reserve, who have previously constructed the 110MW Crescent Dunes Solar Energy Project.

Aurora Power Plant – thermal power plant in SA

We’ve written about the Aurora solar thermal power plant before – they were able to receive DA in January this year and it appeared that everything was going well – but there appears to be a bit of trouble getting the final amount of funding over the line.

“Project funding is a lengthy process and we’ve made great progress having identified the necessary funding sources from commercial lenders and equity providers,” a spokesperson from Solar Reserve told 9NEWS.

At the same time, 9NEWS chased down energy minister Dan Van Holst Pellkaan for a statement – who subsequently advised that as far as the government is concerned, everything is copacetic: “What they’ve said is that as of yesterday, the project is still on track. They’ve certainly made it clear that they’re still seeking finance,” Mr Van Holst Pellkaan said.

SA Energy Minister Dan van Holst Pellekaan - Aurora Power Plant - thermal power plant in SA (source: https://www.danvhp.com.au/ )
SA Energy Minister Dan van Holst Pellekaan – Aurora Power Plant (source: https://www.danvhp.com.au/)

The project already has a 20 year PPA signed and a $110m loan from the federal government (contingent on them raising the other ~$540m) so it’s got most of the pieces of the puzzle in place. 9NEWS have reported that as of last month 60% of the necessary funds have been raised, but they’re still looking for someone to come on board and stump up a significant amount of cash (~$250m) so that the project can receive its loan from the federal government in addition to the other $540m and get this project off the ground.

Fingers crossed that we don’t see any significant delay and the world’s biggest single-tower solar thermal power plant is finished quickly!

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Solar Battery Storage could rise 10x – AEMO

The latest Electricity Statement of Opportunities by the Australian Energy Market Operator (AEMO) forecasts a potential 10x increase in solar battery storage uptake. The statement of operations is produced annually by AEMO and helps them plan for projected installation of solar panels, batteries, and their capacity as the technology increases and Australia continues its march towards our Renewable Energy Target for 2030.

Solar Battery Storage and the AEMO

Solar Battery Storage (source: AEMO/RenewEconomy)
Solar Battery Storage (source: AEMO/RenewEconomy)

AEMO’s 2017 Electricity Statement of Opportunities helps us project the next 10 years of energy generation and runs simulations for different scenarios (changes in solar battery technology or peak demand, for example). It’s worth reading the whole thing but here are some interesting tidbits we picked up around the place:

An interesting note that Renew Economy picked up on is that peak demand (with an average of around 3,700MW for the last ten years) was at its second lowest level since 2009 in 2017 – largely in thanks to the high numbers of rooftop solar systems installed throughout the country. Being able to manage peak demand means that infrastructure won’t be as expensive and we simply don’t need as much energy – so it’s a great result!

Cameron Parrotte, the boss of AEMO in Western Australia, discussed the situation and what it means for Aussies:

“While there have been recent retirements of some fossil-fueled generators, new renewable generation capacity is enabling the RCT to be met within the defined reliability standard, and with significantly lower excess capacity than historically recorded”

There’s also some great news for Western Australian solar power, where the grid includes a ‘capacity market’ – making it a bit different than the other states. The report projects that the current amount of live and committed generation resources will meet forecast peak demand in the state’s South West interconnected system (SWIS), despite around 400MW of coal, gas and diesel being replaced by approximately the same amount of rooftop solar, large-scale wind and large-scale solar. If you want to read more about the Wholesale Electricity Market in Western Australia please click here.

Some great news for Australia’s energy future. There’s no doubt that we’ll see more and higher capacity solar batteries installed in houses over the next ten years, let’s see how accurate those projections are!

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Senec.Home Intelligent Energy System in Australia

German company Senec has been shipping its products to Australia since early last year, and today we will take a look at the Senec solar battery range – according to the site one of these systems can increase your power self-sufficiency to 80% or more. Let’s take a look and see how they stack up against some of the other solar battery competitors. 

The Senec.Home Smart Energy Management System

Senec Solar Battery
SENEC.Home (source: SENEC)

Energy storage technology has been coming along in leaps and bounds lately – we’ve seen the standard lithium-ion swapped out with hydrogen, perovskite, zinc bromine and other materials. These batteries are lithium ion based as it still remains the most mature technology but it’s important to keep an eye out to see what’s around the corner. Who knows where the tech will take us! 

The Senec.Home is an ‘all in one’ system which includes a Senec inverter, a battery management system and battery modules. You need to manage the solar panels yourself, so make sure you have that planned out before you go and buy everything! Ask your retailer if there’s a good synergy between the system you’ve chosen because it’s an expensive exercise to try and swap or add more solar panels to an existing installation.

Here are some of the benefits of this system:

  • Engineered for 12,000 recharging cycles. This is double the capacity of its unnamed ‘nearest competitor’ (not the Tesla Powerwall 2 as it’s rated for ‘unlimited’ cycles)
  • The SENEC.Home Li system is an automated management system for the panels + battery. It manages your power needs without you doing a thing.
  • Australian service and support, but designed, manufactured and assembled entirely in Germany (except for the Panasonic battery modules).
  • Panasonic manufactured battery with 2.5kWh, 5.0kWh, 7.5kWh, and 10.0kWh options (“depending on the loading and unloading conditions”).
  • 98% maximum battery efficiency. 
  • Soon they’ll have a backup function so the Senec.Home can work when the grid goes down.
  • Up to four units can be daisy-chained to create your own microgrid.

After hosting a product launch last year for the system, it looks like demand for the product has been quite high. The price varies depending on a few factors so please get in touch with your retailer to discuss specifics. 

Click here to download the SENEC Intelligent Energy System Brochure and Specs.

If you’re interested in getting in contact, try  (08) 6280 1206 or  (+618) 6280 1206 if you’re not in Australia. Otherwise you can visit their site by clicking here

Have you got any experience or feedback with installing, buying, or running these systems? Please let us know about how you’re finding it in the comments. 

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Pallamana solar plant and battery in the works.

Pallamana solar plant – the suburb in South Australia will receive a 176MW PV solar plant and a battery storage system as part of plans released by renewable energy company RES. It gained “Crown sponsorship” in February and is one of two Murraylands solar projects (The other is Vena Energy’s $200m solar farm at Tailem Bend) currently in progress.

Pallamana Solar+Storage Facility

Pallamana Solar Plant and Battery
Pallamana Solar Plant and Battery (source: RES)

A 730 hectare site, which is currently used for cropping, could generate enough electricity to power 82,000 homes. This would result in co2 emissions decreasing by more than 140,000 tonnes per year. RES are planning to apply for DA (development approval) within the next month and then begin construction Q2 next year. 

The site is located in between Hillview Road and Monarto Road, just south of the Pallamana airfield and approximately four kilometres from Murray Bridge. It’s also adjacent to a power substation, (which you can see in orange on the picture above). 

No word yet on the specifics of the project but we’ll be sure to update you as soon as we know what sort of equipment they’ll be using. Of particular interest is the solar battery which hasn’t even got a size yet – so we’re not sure exactly what they’ll end up doing with regards to energy storage. 

The project is expected to create 200 solar jobs during construction and around 320 down the supply chain (accommodation, hospitality, cleaning, and so on). Hopefully RES hire as many locals as possible – there is a lot of solar talent in South Australia!

It’s not all peaches and cream for everyone involved, however – local aviation students have been known to make (infrequent, but necessary) emergency landings in the field where the solar panels will be installed and local residents told a meeting the rows aren’t wide enough for a light aircraft and they were concerned about what would happen in an emergency. 

Councillor Fred Toogood said the proposal was ‘exciting’ and that ‘we’ve got to be open to this sort of thing’ so we’ll see how they resolve the aircraft issue over the next month or so.

As per the Murray Valley Standard, if you’re a local and would like more information about the proposed Pallamana solar project, please visit www.pallamana-solarfarm.com or call 1800 118 737.

 

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Hydrogen energy storage in French Guiana

Hydrogen energy storage – French hydrogen specialist HDF Energy have announced their  Centrale électrique de l’Ouest guyanais (CEOG) project, which will be one of the world’s biggest solar-plus-storage power plants. The $90m USD plant is expected to generate around 50 GWh per year and will store energy using hydrogen instead of the usual lithium-ion.

Hydrogen energy storage – Centrale électrique de l’Ouest guyanais in French Guiana

Hydrogen energy storage - Centrale électrique de l’Ouest guyanais in French Guiana
Hydrogen energy storage – Centrale électrique de l’Ouest guyanais in French Guiana (source: hdf-energy.com)

With an equivalent 140 MWh of energy stored, CEOG will be the biggest power plant worldwide storing renewable energy using hydrogen.  

The world’s current largest storage project, which was,developed by Tesla and Neoen in South Australia at the Hornsdale Power Reserve, has a slightly lower size – 129 MWh. It uses lithium-ion technology rather than Hydrogen. Neoen have also looked into alternative methods of energy storage, however – they are currently in the middle of building an “Electrolyser” Hydrogen Superhub at Crystal Brook in South Australia.

Hydrogen energy storage technology

According to the manufacturer HDF, the hydrogen energy storage tech has a number of benefits over lithium-ion, such as enabling the storage of energy for long periods of time with minimal loss. It’s a very simple process to store the energy as hydrogen – you just need an electrolyzer, storage tanks, and a fuel cell. 

Firstly the electrolyzer separates hydrogen and oxygen from a water molecule. The resultant hydrogen is then pressurised and stored in tanks. In the fuel cell the hydrogen is combined with oxygen, which then allows the production of electricity and steam. 

Hydrogen has been suffering a tough time of it as late as the efficiency is quite difficult to improve – typical ranges are from 75-80%, according to PV Magazine (click the link to read a fantastic, in-depth article about the future of storing energy as hydrogen). Further losses of between 5-35% result from compression and cooling of the molecular hydrogen. Even for on-site use or with a direct feed into the gas network, you’ll see conversion efficiency of around 70%. 

We need to continue the research to see if the efficiency of hydrogen can be improved and it’ll be very interesting to see what the numbers are from both the French Guiana project and the superhub at Crystal Brook. We’ll keep you posted! 

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