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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The first solar powered house in Australia.

The ABC recently ran an article about the first solar powered house in Australia, the ‘Bos house’ – which was constructed in Victoria 40 years ago. A TV documentary ‘Breakthroughts’ called the house “the first totally energy-independent modern home in the world”.

The first solar powered house in Australia

The first solar powered house in Australia
Solar gate at the Bos’ – the first solar powered house in Australia (source: ABC)

Judy and Michael Bos have a house on a four hectare block at Pearcedale, in south-east Melbourne. They wanted a house which had as much natural insulation as possible so that it would be naturally cool in summer and warm in winter. It was build in 1978 after ‘lengthy consultation’ with architects and investigating other houses:

“We went into other houses, we found that their heating was blasting away and we didn’t need the heat, because the house stays the same temperature all the time,” Judy Bos told the ABC in an interview.

The north-facing side of the Bos’ home is 98% glass, which means it absorbs as much warmth from the sun as possible. If it’s a hot day they have louvres throughout the house to control sunlight. Wind turbines power a dam pump and a 37,000 litre rainwater tank. 

“It was the first house that we knew of that was running exclusively on solar power,” said Michael Harris, who ran tours of the eco-friendly property in the 1980s.

“Back in the 1980s people were very interested in being self-sufficient and being off the grid, and it was very difficult to do.

“The only option you had was to have a clunky, noisy generator in the back shed.”

The Bos’ property was different – where it has a string of polycrystalline celled solar panels to charge a cupboard full of lead acid solar batteries. According to the ABC, solar panels are now 15x more powerful than when the Bos’ place was constructed, and they’re also much, much cheaper. 

The (now sold) house was a labor of love and quite far ahead of its time and the Bos’ say that anyone wanting to follow in their footsteps will find it easy in 2018:

“This is a very old-fashioned solar house,” Ms Bos said.

“We had to deal with what was available at the time … but now there are all sorts of materials that can be used.

“It doesn’t cost any more to put the windows in the right places and to use the right materials, and in the long run you win.”

We’re expecting solar battery installation to increase quite substantially over the coming few years as the technology continues to improve and the cost decreases.  

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Fronius Inverters / Solar Batteries Australia

Fronius (website here) were founded in 1992 and they have over 70 years of experience in battery charging technology, as well as creating their first inverter in 1995. Also known as Fronius Solar Energy, they are an Austrian based company who, in 2017, have a range of highly recommended and well performing inverters, solar batteries, and intelligent energy management software through their Solar.Web system.

Let’s have a look at some of their range and discuss how you can order Fronius products in Australia.

Fronius Inverter Product Range

Fronius Primo Inverter
Fronius Primo Inverter

Fronius stock a range of inverters for every power category – from 1.5kW – 27kW, depending on the size of your PV solar array. According to international sales director Adrian Noronho to EcoGeneration, the biggest seller in Australia is the Primo series for single-phase residential systems – and they sell over 4,500 of these units per month. Their inverter range includes:

  • Fronius Galvo / Galvo UL (SnapINverter )
  • Fronius Primo / Primo UL – this has been specially developed for private households wanting from 3.8 – 15kW – it’s a single phase, transformerless device that connects to WiFi via WLAn, has a SuperFlex design, and includes the super simple SnapINverter mounting system. The primo also has two MPPT (Maximum Power Point Tracking) controllers.
  • Fronius Symo / Symo UL / Symo Hybrid
  • Fronius Eco

The Solar.web App works on iPhone and Android so you can see how it analyses your consumption patterns, optimises your energy usage and manages how your surplus energy is stored.

Buy Fronius Inverter Australia

We recommend SolarKraft if you’re looking to invest in solar inverters/batteries/energy management (i.e. smart meter). They’re a Brisbane based company who we’re partnered with and their competitive price and amazing service is second to none. Give them a call on 1300 985 363 or click here to visit their website

Solarkraft Brisbane Fronius
Buy Fronius products in Brisbane through Solarkraft

Also keep in mind that Fronius offer both residential and commercial solutions – so no matter what the scale of your requirements they’ll be able to help.

Fronius Solar Battery Australia

Fronius Solar Battery
Fronius Solar Battery

Fronius also manufacture a lithium-iron phosphate solar battery which comes in 6 different sizes – 4.5, 6.0, 7.5, 9.0, 10.5, 12   (usable capacity 3.6kWh to 9.6kWh)

The batteries are rated for 8000 cycles and over 20 years long service life at an ambient temperature of 22°C. Please note that they are only IP20 weather rated so these are indoor batteries – no matter which capacity you choose they all have the same dimensions (955mm high x 570mm wide x 611mm deep) – the weight ranges from 91kg for the 3.6kWh battery to 176kg for the 9.6kWh.

Voltage range, nominal charging power, nomimal discharge power, and max charging/discharge current will vary depending on the product chosen so please double check this will be suitable for your installation before purchasing.

The inverter/battery combo is able to be DC or AC coupled using their Multi Flow Technology- so it’s suitable for grid or offgrid solutions.

If you’re not 100% sold on which brand you’d like it’d also be worthwhile checking out our solar battery comparison where you can learn more about the various other products on the market.

Buy Fronius Solar Battery Australia

If you’re looking to install solar battery technology alongside an existing solar PV array or as part of a new install, we recommend SolarKraft – to get a competitive price along with unbeatable service, both before and after you make your purchase. Their experienced team will have an in depth discussion with you about your goals for solar and help ensure you choose a system that will save you the most amount of money in the long run.

Solarkraft Brisbane Fronius
Buy Fronius products in Brisbane through Solarkraft

Fronius Energy Management

If you want to optimise an existing PV system using ‘Intelligent Energy Management’ is a great choice – its ‘Solar.Web’ monitors household energy and optimises usage based on patterns of usage. Watch the video below to learn more and feel free to contact us if you want to get the best quote for this system.

Warranty Levels

You can choose between two levels of warranty: a ‘warranty extension’ which means parts will be replaced but the user will have to pay for labour, and the ‘warranty extension plus’, which is like comprehensive insurance for your car – where, if a claim is made, in additional to all replacement parts, labour costs for transporting, removing and installing the replacements is also covered.

Please note that these warranty terms can differ depending on the country and region – we have attached the Australian/New Zealand Terms and Conditions updated as per 31.08.17.

Warranty Terms and Conditions – Australia and New Zealand

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Solar Cell Windows for sale in Asia

Some amazing technology out of Asia pioneered by Asahi Glass has windows with solar cells embedded in them being offered to the global market. These solar cell windows will be marketed to developers worldwide, with a focus on Australia and Oceania.

Asahi Glass Solar Cell Windows

This technology isn’t new (it has been offered to the Japanese market since 2000), but is experiencing a resurgence as Asahi are preparing the product for export. The windows will be offered for developers to implement as part of construction packages in order to help meet Asia’s rapidly growing renewable power needs.

The solar cell windows can generate 2-4 watt hours per square 15.6cm per side, depending on design. The plan is to sell Sunjoule to construction projects in Australia and the rest of Oceania – they’ve already installed in Cambodia, Singapore, and Hong Kong where they have set up shop to target European and US property developers who want to add unique and eco-friendly functionality to their building designs. They also plan to start producing these energy-conserving solar cell windows/glass in 2018 in Indonesia, according to Nikkei.com. Here’s an article from Inhabitat talking about the ‘nanosolar‘ thin and flexible solar cell coating which is utilised in the panels.

About Asahi

Asahi Glass Co Solar Cell Windows Australia
Asahi Glass Co Solar Cell Windows

Asahi are a global glass manufacturing company who offer myriad products such as heated windshields and 3d curved cover glass for car mounted displays. They turned over $12.8 billion USD in the 2013 financial year and have 51,500 consolidated employees so they are a major player in the industry. According to Wikipedia they are one of the largest flat glass producing companies in the world.

Asahi India Glass Ltd. (AIS) – who are an Indian affiliate of the company – also offer a mobile app called ‘AIS – World Of Glass’ for end users and partners to gain a deeper insight and experience into their portfolio of glass offerings. Click here for iOS and here for Android if you’d like to give it a try!  We’ll be interested to see how much the solar panel technology increases over the coming months and years and how Asahi are able to improve and enhance their offering – solar cell windows are a great innovation and it’ll be interesting to see how quickly the technology is picked up worldwide and how competitors react to this product.

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A Guide to SPPA (Solar Power Purchase Agreements) in Queensland

What is a Solar Power Purchase Agreement (SPPA)?

A Solar Power Purchase Agreement (SPPA) refers to a fixed-time financial agreement where a third-party developer (e.g. a company like Infinite Energy, Horan and Bird, or EnergyAustralia) owns, operates, and maintains a Solar PV (photovoltaic) system at your residence (this can be at a house or a business). The customer agrees to house the solar system and then proceeds to buy the energy directly from the provider for a fixed period of time.

This financial arrangement allows the host customer to receive stable and, as a general rule, lower-cost electricity. There are also myriad benefits for the solar services provider in the form of incentives such as tax credits and also income generated from the sale of the electricity.

SPPA Explained
SPPA Explained – Adapted from Rahus Institute’s “The Customer’s Guide to Solar Power Purchase Agreements” (2008).

Private/Public SPPAs in Queensland

As all states are moving at their own pace with regards to renewables and the progress differs significantly, it’ll be interesting to see how the SPPA (solar power purchase agreement) in Queensland works in other states – and how long it takes before we see locations across Australia offering a similar scheme. These generally result in a kwh decrease of almost 50% (on an average SPPA in March 2017 you’ll pay ~13c / kWh compared to ~25c / kWh directly from retailers).

Mark Baily (QLD Energy Minister)  advised at the Solar 2015 Melbourne conference that the QLD Government remain committed to generating 50% of their energy from renewables by 2030.  To achieve these goals the Queensland Government have been offering both residents and developers generous incentives on Solar Power Purchase Agreements (SPPA).

SPPAs have been effective in other countries (such as America) and we’re confident

If you’re considering – keep in mind that these are only available in some areas of Queensland right now

How does an SPPA work in Queensland?

SPPA Queensland
Solar PPA (SPPA) in Queensland Explained (Image from InfiniteEnergy)

This image from InfiniteEnergy shows the basic steps one would undertake when starting an SPPA with them. This can vary from provider to provider but generally you can expect:

  • No (or minor) upfront capital costs
  • No operational risks (Provider is responsible for maintenance)
  • Substantial decrease in cost of electricity.
  • Potentially increased value of your building.
  • Possibility to ‘lock in’ electricity rates for a set period (like a fixed home loan – depending on supplier)

Send us a message if you’re located in Queensland and have any questions or you want to get started with an SPPA – we’ll be able to put you in touch with some recommended suppliers.

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