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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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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Western Australia Solar Subsidies may be cut – Wyatt

Western Australia Solar Subsidies look like they’re in the firing line right now – with Energy Minister Ben Wyatt advising that he supports either completely scrapping or winding back rooftop solar panel subsidies.

Western Australia Solar Subsidies

Western Australia Solar Subsidies - Synergy
Western Australia Solar Subsidies – Synergy (source: synergy.net.au)

Earlier this year the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission called to axe rooftop solar subsidies Australia-wide by 2021. Ben Wyatt said he has asked the Public Utilities Office to have an in depth look about the buyback scheme which could probably do with a bit of an overhaul, or at least a step in the right direction, technology wise.

“While the cost of solar PV systems has reduced significantly since the introduction of the Renewable Energy Target and is now considered economically viable in the absence of government subsidy, the implications of such a change need to be fully thought through, including the impact on the local solar industry,” Mr Wyatt said.

In WA, Synergy currently pays a feed-in tariff of 7.1c/kW to 240,000 households with solar – and over 70,000 customers entitled to the premium solar feed-in tariff which is 40c/kW (there’s no indication that the gov’t is looking at winding back the premium FIT). This is known as the Renewable Energy Buyback Scheme (REBS). Mr Wyatt said that Synergy are paying ‘over the odds’ for this power during hte middle of the day, when demand is low and output high. If you’d like to learn more about WA’s unique energy situation please have a look at this article.

We’re all for furthering the cause of solar, but is it worth taking a look at maybe moving some of the subsidies and tariffs towards energy storage rather than energy generation?

Ray Challen, who was the top energy adviser as the head of the Public Utilities Office up until the end of last year, said he thinks it’s time to consider the best way to continue improving our renewable generation:

“The reason for subsidising any form of behaviour is to produce some sort of greater social good, and it would be difficult to say at the moment that there is a greater social good from subsidising small-scale solar because people could do it anyway,” Mr Challen said. “Not only that but if you wanted to subsidise anything in the power sector then you would be probably subsidising batteries.”

So will we have a solar battery subsidy? It’s hard to say at this point, but many people are talking about making a change to the way we currently reward solar generators. Would a carefully managed solar battery rebate help? Watch this space…

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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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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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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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