PowerBank trial for WA Homes | Tesla PowerPack

An official announcement by the Government of Western Australia on Wednesday notes that they will partner with Western Power and Synergy to offer a Tesla PowerBank trial via a 105kW (420kWh) Tesla PowerBank battery.

PowerBank trial for WA Homes.

 

PowerBank trial for WA Homes.
Tesla PowerPack Commercial Battery – PowerBank trial for WA Homes (source: Tesla)

The 24 month trial period means that customers participating will be able to ‘virtually’ store excess power they generate during the day (it’ll be fed into the utility-scale 105kW Tesla PowerPack Battery). They can then use 8kWhs of the PowerBank’s battery storage without needing to install their own power bank. According to the press release (and it’s true!), “8kWhs is enough to power the average suburban home for over one hour during peak time.”

Energy Minister Ben Wyatt discussed the Tesla PowerBank trial in a series of interesting quotes which explain how helpful this trial could be to Mandurah residents:

“PowerBank is an ‘in front of the meter’ storage trial which allows invited local customers to store excess electricity from already installed solar PV systems to then use it during peak times.

“This is another Australian milestone for the application of utility-scale batteries for the benefit for customers, drawing on the groundbreaking work by Synergy in its Alkimos Beach energy storage trial.

“For the first time in Australia, a utility-scale battery will be integrated into an established suburb’s network, like Meadow Springs, that has a high level of existing solar PV uptake.

“At the cost of one dollar a day, customers will have access to 8kWh of battery storage to use any time after 3pm each day.

“This trial shows that the WA Government is serious about working with renewables, delivering for taxpayers and planning for our energy future.”

Click here to view the media statement from the WA state government.

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LG ESS Battery Launch – Residential Energy Storage

LG have released a new LG ESS battery and inverter, and have upgraded their NeON solar panel range for 2019. Let’s take a look at some of the changes!  

LG ESS battery and inverter

LG have consistently led the way with regards to high quality solar panels, so it’s great to see them foray into home energy storage. Let’s take a look at the product a little closer:

LG ESS Battery and Inverter
LG ESS Battery and Inverter (source: lgenergy.com.au)
 
“Delivering high-quality energy solutions for homeowners is a top priority for us,” said Markus Lambert, General Manager Solar & Energy for LG Electronics Australia discussed what adding a residential ESS (Energy Storage Solution) will mean for the LG solar brand:
 
“The addition of the ESS to our energy portfolio will enable us to support Australian homeowners with a 3 phase electric power and their demand for greater control over their residential energy consumption.”
 
The LG ESS battery and inverter is also modular – it can store up to 12.8kWh by installing the 6.4kWh battery packs. All of the devices are covered by a 10 year Australian product warranty. 
 
In addition to the ESS, LG Electronics also introduced their 2019 range of NeON®R and NeON®2 premium solar panels, which will have a performance upgrade to 370W and 380W as well as a 400W 72 cell panel. All NeON solar panels have a 25 year warranty. To be frank, these panels are quite expensive, but if space is a premium and/or you want to get the best result possible, they are highly recommended. Mr Lambert discussed the benefits of the new panels:
 
“Residential dwellings are constantly evolving, just like homeowners’ energy needs,” he said.
 
“These higher efficiency panels will benefit homeowners with limited roof space, as well as those looking to deploy energy-intense technologies, like electric vehicle charging stations.”
 
If you’re interested in learning more about LG’s new product range please click here to view their website or feel free to leave a comment below and we’d be happy to point you in the right direction! 

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AGL Solar – Company quits rooftop solar business.

AGL solar – the company announced on Tuesday that they will record a $47m loss from their residential rooftop solar installation business. 

AGL solar installation business to shut down.

AGL Solar Installations
AGL Solar Installations (source: aglsolar.com.au)

AGL bought the Rezeko brand around seven years ago and used its systems to install “proprietary residential solar”. They’ve now put out a press release advising that they will write down the company’s residential solar arm. 

With the imminent (2022) closure of their Liddell coal generator, it makes sense that the company are trying to diversify with regards to methods of energy generation. It’s a shame that this hasn’t worked out, and we’ll be interested to see how it affects AGL’s vision of renewable energy moving forwards. 

“We decided to withdraw from the direct installation of residential solar hardware after completing a comprehensive review of the business,” AGL Chief Customer Officer Melissa Reynolds was quoted as saying in an email to Renew Economy

“The review determined that the interests of our customers would be better served by moving to a different business model. Under this model we forward enquiries for residential solar hardware installation to our third-party partners which are experts in the installation of PV solar.

“AGL will continue to provide advice to customers on solar energy and energy plans.”

AGL was one of the country’s top 10 residential solar installers, and in the top five of commercial solar installers. It remains to be seen what the ramifications of this writedown are, but we’ll keep you updated with how things are going. What we do know is that their commercial solar installation arm will remain unchanged as it’s presumably much more profitable than the ‘race to the bottom’ we’re seeing domestic solar installers engaged in.

The company says its plans for virtual power plants in Adelaide and elsewhere will not be affected. 

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Solar Battery Rebates in Victoria | Solar Homes Program

Solar battery rebates in Victoria will be rolled out as part of the Andrews’ government’s $1.34b Solar Homes program. The program also includes half price solar panels for 650,000 households and a $1,000 discount on solar hot water installation for 60,000 households. 

Solar Battery Rebates in Victoria – Solar Homes Program

Solar Battery Rebates in Victoria
Solar Battery Rebates in Victoria (source: solar.vic.gov.au)

Victorian home owners who fit the criteria (it’s means tested) will get a 50% rebate to install battery storage. The rebate will be capped at $4838 in the first year and will slowly decrease to $3714 by 2026, factoring in the inevitability that prices will decrease and energy storage technology will improve. The Age are reporting that this policy will cost an estimated $40m, with around 10,000 Victorian households expected to take advantage of the fantastic subsidy offer. 

According to the SBS, it’s part of Labor’s wider plan to increase renewable energy use and decrease the cost of living – with the plan being to work with energy distributors and invest $10m to help ‘renewable-proof’ the state grid over the next ten years. 

“This is a game changer for Victorian families fed up with big corporations that have been price gouging and ripping consumers off,” Premier Daniel Andrews said.

“Only Labor will put solar panels, solar hot water or solar batteries on 720,000 homes – saving Victorians thousands of dollars on their electricity bills with renewable energy.”

Solar Homes Victoria Subsidy Breakdown

We’ve previously written about Labor’s half price solar for Victorians scheme- looks like there are some great plans coming to fruition for the state. 

Solar Panels – $1.2b for 50% of solar system installation costs for 650,000 homes.

Solar Hot Water – $60m for $1000 subsiddies to install solar hot water.

Solar Batteries – $40m for 50% of solar battery installation costs for ~10,000 homes.

It’ll be very interesting to see how these solar battery rebates work in Victoria and if the other states (especially the ones with a high solar panel update) follow suit. Watch this space – we’ll keep you updated! 

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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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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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Latrobe Valley solar: 30 public buildings to get PV.

Latrobe Valley solar energy is set to get a boost with 30 public buildings in the area to have rooftop installed at no cost, thanks to a bit of help from the state government in Victoria.

Latrobe Valley Solar Scheme

Energy and environment minister Lily D’Ambrosio was in Moe last week to discuss the scheme and show the Latrobe Valley residents a list of the public buildings in line for free solar upgrades, including in some cases solar hot water and lighting. One such building is the Toongabbie Mechanics Institute – a building where existing solar has already saved $500 on last quarter’s electricity bill. Toongabbie Mechanics Institute treasurer Roger Ries summed it up very succintly:

“It’s made amazing reductions. It’s cheaper for the recreation reserve users and it will make it cheaper for the hall here,” Mr Ries said.

Minister D’Ambrosio spoke about the impact these home solar energy upgrades will have on the lives of lives of 1000 vulnerable Gippslanders.

“The energy upgrades and solar installations will not only help bring down energy prices for the Latrobe Valley, they will create local jobs in the renewable energy sector,” she said.

According to the Latrobe Valley Express, over 1000 households/low incomes earners are also eligible for solar systems as part of the $5 million Latrobe Valley Home Energy Upgrade Program.  Local businesses Gippsland Solar (who are responsible for the fantastic Camberwell Grammar School Solar System), Sunny Afternoons and Rocky’s Electrical will be used for both programs which will create 10 full-time jobs.

Latrobe Valley Solar Scheme
Latrobe Valley Solar Scheme (source: EPA Victoria)

There’s been some great solar news for the Latrobe Valley / Gippsland area with regards to both end-user solutions and large-scale renewable energy production – with a 70MW solar farm on the outskirts of Morwell announced back in April, to be build by ARP Australian Solar who said the plant will be a hybrid solar and battery farm which create “well over 100 jobs [during construction]” for the area. 

“There would also be a number of ongoing jobs … involving security, electrical testing, monitoring and what have you.”, according to ARP Australian solar director George Hughes. 

Mr Hughes elaborated on a potential timeline for the Morwell solar farm: 

“With everything going according to plan, we’re looking to start construction in January or February next year, early 2019.”

We’ll keep you updated on both the Latrobe Valley Solar Scheme and the Morwell solar farm. Exciting times for Gippsland!

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Lightsource BP offering residential PPAs

Lightsource BP, a UK based solar and smart energy solutions company, is preparing to move into the Australian market where they will offer residential rooftop PV solar power at no upfront cost – instead using the PPA (Power Purchase Agreement) model usually reserved for large-scale solar installs. 

Lightsource BP Solar in Australia

Lightsource BP in Australia
Lightsource BP in Australia (source: bp.com)

Lightsource Labs Australia Pty Ltd (LS Labs) have applied to the Australian Energy Regulator (AER) to launch their product, asking for an individual exemption to hold a retailer authorisation. The application says that LS Labs could launch their product in NSW, SA, QLD, and VIC within a couple of weeks, so all eyes on the regulator to see if they’re happy to grant the exemption.

The way LS Lab’s product will work is that they will supply, install, operate and maintain a solar array, batter and smart metering system to homes, and then sell the renewable power to the client at a fixed price under a PPA model. According to Renewables Now, the period of PPA could be up to 20 years and price per kWh will depend on the terms of each individual contract (i.e. it’ll be cheaper depending on how long the contract is). They also note that customers will be offered the opportunity to buy the system at any time after the second year of the PPA.

RenewEconomy is reporting that Lightsource BP partnered with French company Edf in the UK – using LG Chem batteries as part of the ‘Sunplug’ program. These PPAs were around 9.9p/kWh (~$0.18 AUD) so it’ll be interesting to see how this fares in the Australian market. 

Last month, Lightsource BP acquired Ubiworx Systems to help support a plan for the global launch of a smart-home solution. Kareen Boutonnat, COO of Lightsource BP, said at the time that the “power of the home” will be very important with regards to shaping the world’s “new energy future” – a situation where the energy market transcends monitoring and controlling of consumption, turning ‘smart homes’ into ‘genius homes’ (as we call them). Will be exciting to see where this goes over the next few years! 

 

 

 

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The rotating, energy-efficient solar home Girasole

In Crace, Canberra, Anna and Phillip Burroughs reside in a multi-award-winning solar home named ‘Girasole’. It’s the widest rotating home in the world – using solar power to rotate on its axis to gather maximum amounts of solar panel and allow for a novel and exciting living area for the Burroughs’. 

Girasole the rotating solar home.

Girasole Rotating Solar Home
Girasole Rotating Solar Home (source: Liveability.com.au)

Girasole was designed by DNA Architects and Industrious Design in 2012-2013 – with the house being offered a six star energy rating. Construction was completed by MAG Constructions in 2013 and in the middle of the year the Burroughs happily moved in to their amazing new home which boasts a 120,000 litre underground water tank, 10.5kW solar panels, north-facing living room windows, the highest insulation rating possible (using polystyrene external cladding) and LED lighting throughout. 

A touchscreen panel in the house is pressed to commence the rotation of the 56 tonne home – which also has an automatic option to ‘follow the sun’. It takes about 10 minutes for the house to do a full 360′ rotation and, amazingly, takes about the same energy as a lightglobe to turn around due to extremely clever and energy efficient construction and design. 

According to the Internet, ‘Girasole’ is Italian for sunflower – an apt choice for the amazing solar house. Gira(re) also means ‘to turn’ and sole is the sun, so it’s a bit of a play on words. 

Some words from the original designer, John Andriolo from MAG Constructions:

“The idea for this house came about over 50 years ago when I was just a 10-year-old boy studying history in Italy. I found Galileo Galilee’s idea of ‘eppure si mouve’ (‘the earth is moving’) completely fascinating, and since then I have always dreamt that one day I would build a house that follows the sun. Seeing this idea now become a reality is a little surreal but I hope it will demonstrate how our natural resources, like the sun and rain, can be put to good use in future home designs.”

In a world where we’re starting to see solar panels mandatory on new homes (well, in California at least) there’s no doubt we’ll start to see a lot more novel ideas. 

If you want to follow Girasole on Facebook please click here.

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ShineHub offer ‘fixed rate, free access’ solar.

A company named ShineHub has released a ‘fixed rate, free access’ contract Australia wide (except NT and Tasmania) where users can have solar+storage installed for free. The trial program will be for 1,000 contracts and will be expanded in the future. 

ShineHub’s fixed price solar service.

Shinehub Fixed Price Solar
Shinehub Fixed Price Solar (source: shinehub.com.au)

ShineHub’s contract means that they actually own the system and are responsible for the maintenance of it. The contracts run for 20 years and lock the customer into a 20 year contract to buy the electricity the system produces. According to the team the cost of an average system ShineHub will install is $15,000, so that’s quite a big saving if you’re not able to stump up for the system upfront.

“This is the first contract of its kind available to residential homes across Australia for a solar and battery package,” ShineHub co-founder Alex Georgiou told news.com.au in an interview.

“This provides a simple way to purchase (a system) and everything is taken care of. There are no additional fees, we’ve taken the uncertainty out,” Mr Georgiou said.

“It’s a very easy way for consumers to get what they want, without getting scared off by either the cost or the reliability.”

The program could be particularly good for landlords who don’t want to stump up the fairly sizeable upfront cost to install solar+storage but want to help their tenants enjoy the reduced electricity prices having solar panels can bring. We’ve written fairly extensively about the difficulty of installing solar power for renters – perhaps ideas like ShineHub could be a step in the right direction so they’re able to  enjoy some stability with regards to their electricity bill.

Some more information about the service:

  • Installation will be in July this year.
  • You can buy out the system at a discounted rate. If you want to sell your house it’s possible to transfer the ShineHub contract to a new owner.
  • You’ll remain connected to the grid and will have to pay the ongoing access fee for it.
  • They’ll use Bloomberg rated Tier 1 solar panels from Longi, Alpha ESS’s SMILE5 hybrid inverter and battery system.
  • ShineHub are partnered with 85 certified solar companies in Australia to help deliver their idea. 

If you’re interested in applying for one of the ShineHub systems, you can contact them for a consultation to see if you’re eligible. 

As per news.com.au, the average electricity rates and ShineHub prices are listed below.

NSW:

  • Highest price is: $0.39/kWh
  • Average rate is: $0.24/kWh
  • Price starts at: $0.18/kWh
  • Typical savings bracket: 20 per cent to 35 per cent.

VIC:

  • Highest price is: $0.34/kWh
  • Average rate is: $0.21/kWh
  • Price starts at: $0.18/kWh
  • Typical savings bracket: 14 per cent to 30 per cent.

SA:

  • Highest price is: $0.47/kWh
  • Average rate is: $0.35/kWh
  • Price starts at: $0.18/kWh
  • Typical savings bracket: 35 per cent to 50 per cent.

QLD:

  • Highest price is: $0.35/kWh
  • Average rate is: $0.22/kWh
  • Price starts at: $0.18/kWh
  • Typical savings bracket: 18 per cent to 30 per cent.

WA:

  • Highest price is: $0.26/kWh
  • Average rate is: $0.26/kWh
  • Price starts at: $0.18/kWh
  • Typical savings bracket: Around 30 per cent.

 

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