Tesla Battery Power in Victoria – Powerpack

Tesla Battery Power in Victoria will be installed in regional Victoria this year, in time for the 2018/19 summer. The Turnbull government has committed up to $25m to Victoria’s first foray into large-scale, grid-connected batteries.

Tesla Battery Power in Victoria

Tesla Battery Power in Victoria - Tesla Powerpack
Tesla Battery Power in Victoria – Tesla Powerpack (source: tesla.com)

The Age is reporting that ARENA (the Australian Renewable Energy Agency) and the Turnbull government will contribute $25m to the $50m project, which will be located in Western Victoria. The area has been identified as having a ‘vulnerable’ energy transmission network and will benefit immensely from the project. The other $25m of funding will come from a consoria led by Spotless Sustainability Services, according to PV Tech.

The batteries will, similar to the South Australia Tesla battery plant, use Tesla’s lithium ion Powerpacks, but in slightly different configurations and with separate manufacturers. 

There will be two separate batteries – 

  1. A 25MW/50MWh Powerpack solar battery in Kerrang, supplied by Tesla, owned by Edify Energy and Wirsol, and connected to the Gannawarra solar farm in north-west Victoria.
  2. A 30MW/30MWh grid-connected Powerpack in Ballarat, supplied by global energy storage giant Fluence (a conglomeration of Siemens and AES), owned by AusNet and and built at a nearby station in Warrenheip. 

Both batteries will be operated by EnergyAustralia and a PPA (power purchase agreement) has already been signed. 

“ARENA is excited to be demonstrating the capabilities that these new batteries will provide in securing reliable electricity for western Victoria and to facilitate the Victoria’s transition to renewable energy,” ARENA’s Ivor Frischknecht said in a statement.

Victoria has a RET (renewable energy target) of 25% by 2020 and 40% by 2025. 

Minister Josh Frydenberg said: “Storage has been the missing piece of the energy jigsaw for a long time. Whether it’s Snowy 2.0 in New South Wales and Victoria, the Battery of the Nation projects in Tasmania or various initiatives, including a 30MW battery, in South Australia, we are expanding, exploring and funding energy storage right across the country.”

Back in January we wrote about the Bulgana Green Power Hub – a 194MW wind farm and a 20MW / 35MWh battery storage facility which will be built by French renewable energy developer Neoen separately to the Gannawarra solar farm Tesla battery or the Ballarat terminal station Powerpack. So there’s plenty on the horizon for energy storage in Victoria – it’ll be great to see how this affects some of the weaker parts of regional Victoria as it’s already had a fantastic effect in South Australia. 


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Redback Smart Hybrid System / EnergyAustralia

Queensland based solar company Redback Technologies have teamed up with EnergyAustralia to offer a “next generation” smart solar plus storage system, named the Redback Smart Hybrid – which is slated to pay for itself within seven years.

Redback Smart Hybrid System

Redback Smart Hybrid Battery Enclosure
Redback Smart Hybrid Battery Enclosure (source: redbacktech.com)

According to the Australian Financial Review, the system will utilise smart technology to optimise use of solar panels and batteries depending on usage and weather patterns. It’ll also have an app which allows users to remotely control and monitor operation of the Redback Smart Hybrid system.

Estimates from EnergyAustralia say that a normal household with usage of 8000kWh / year will save around $1,500 a year with the Redback Smart Hybrid system (4.9kW solar array and 3.3kWh battery). That system would cost around $9,000, or $7,000 to retrofit to existing panels with some modifications to the inverter. One of the main bonuses of the system is that it’s modular – so customers are able to scale up if they’re interested in expanding. It makes use of the Redback Smart Hybrid Solar Inverter which is designed in Brisbane, and different batteries / solar panels depending on your circumstances.

Kane Thornton, CEO of the Clean Energy Council called the system an example of the “game-changing” tech currently coming out to help combat rapidly rising electricity bills.

Andrew Perry of Energy Australia was circumspect to the AFR about specific sales goals for the system, but did advise that they have “strong ambitions for growth”. It certainly seems like we are heading very quickly to the point where solar + storage is a no-brainer for certain types of consumer – especially with the ‘smart technology’ removing the need for spreadsheets and PhDs for those wanting to get a strong result from their solar investment. To get a system like this for under $10,000 is a great deal – we’ll be very interested to see how sales go over the coming months.

Redback Smart Hybrid vs Tesla Powerwall

Technically the Redback Smart Hybrid is just an inverter + smart energy management system, but the Smart Hybrid system being offered by EnergyAustralia is an ‘all in one’ system. In comparison to the Powerwall which is just an inverter + storage,  it’s a bit difficult to compare them fairly. It is important to note that given the modular design of the Smart Hybrid, you’re able to ‘start off small’ with a 3.3kWh battery (as opposed to the Powerwall 2, which you can also add to, but only in increments of 13.4kWh) and grow from there.

The PowerWall is significantly more expensive than the Redback, and doesn’t include solar panels. However, if money is less of an issue and you’re prepared to wait, the Tesla Solar Roof Australian release date is currently “early 2018” and will undoubtedly be a premium solution for those who are interested in aesthetics along with quality.

It seems that both systems have their own niche depending on how much one wants to pay – but you certainly couldn’t be faulted for taking a look at the Redback Smart Hybrid price point and being impressed. If the smart tech works like they say it does, it’ll be a very powerful contender against all comers. Not having to worry about compatibility is definitely a big plus – although the battery / panels used may differ depending on your circumstances, EnergyAustralia will ensure the system fits together nicely.

The Redback / EnergyAustralia Partnership

EnergyAustralia invested $9.3m into Redback Technologies last October – their first major investment. The two companies have been working together on various projects including back in April where they inked a memorandum of understanding (MoU) to bring Redback’s solar tech to Dubai South for a pilot project.

Have a look at the video below which introduces Redback Technologies, their founder and MD Philip Livingston, and explains more about their partnership with EnergyAustralia.

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Solar feed-in tariffs to rise by up to 140%

Despite electricity price hikes of up to 20% last week by AGL Energy, Origin, and EnergyAustralia, there is some respite for those with solar panels feeding energy back into the grid as the same providers have increased their solar feed-in tariffs. For those that aren’t on a grandfathered feed-in tariff, most people have been seeing a fairly low return of around 6c/kWh. These have been raised quite substantially in recent days. 2017 has been a tough year for electricity prices with occurrences such as the closing of the 1600MW Hazelwood coal-fired power plant putting a lot of strain on the system. Although a step in the right direction, renewable energy infrastructure investment vs. ROI still hasn’t reached that magical ‘tipping point’ where it’s a no brainer – especially for homeowners – so it’s great to see the FITs getting a commensurate boost!

Solar feed-in tariffs – 2017 Changes

Australian Solar Feed-In Tariffs 2017
Australian Solar Feed-In Tariffs 2017 (source: pixabay.com)

AGL will increase their solar feed-in tariffs quite significantly (they’ve stated that it could lead to as much as $332 in savings for some households):

  • From 6.8c/kWh to 16.3c/kWh in South Australia (140% increase)
  • From 5c/kWh to 11.3c/kWh in Victoria
  • From 6c/kWh to 10.5c/kWh in Queensland
  • From 6.1c/kWh to 11.1c/kWh in New South Wales

EnergyAustralia have also raised their FITs, with a statement discussing the higher wholesale price of electricity (over the last two years since the carbon tax was repealed the cost of wholesale energy has more than doubled). “The increase means customers will be paid more for the power they send back to the grid, reflecting recent rises in the broader wholesale electricity ­market,” a spokesman said.

  • From 8.2c/kWh to 15c/kWh in South Australia
  • From 6.1c/kWh to 12.5c/kWh in New South Wales
  • From 6c/kWh to 11c/kWh in Queensland

Origin haven’t announced specifics of their new solar feed-in tariffs yet but, according to The Australian, the new FITs will “reflect higher wholesale energy prices, and would be packaged with lower base rates and other discounts.”

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Redback Technologies ink MoU to bring their solar tech to Dubai South

Redback Technologies have taken a step towards expanding their business to the United Arab Emirates, last week inking a memorandum of understanding (MoU) to bring their real time energy management systems along with their solar expertise to the UAE. The MoU, with Duserve Facilities Management (Duserve FM) is in regards to collaboration on a pilot project which will trial Redback’s solar solutions in the UAE.

The 12 month pilot project involves Redback trialling its energy generation and management solutions over 20 commercial and 20 residential properties in Dubai South; a new metropolitan area which will house around 1 million people. Redback will manage and monitor energy during the 12 month period, with their proprietary software able to offer real-time data and insights into the energy usage of each property to a very granular level.

Redback’s Energy Management Platform

Redback are in the unique position of being a solar company (their inverters partner with Redflow zCell batteries, using Zinc Bromide instead of Lithium Ion which have myriad pros and cons – click here for a great article from SolarQuotes.com.au who sum up the situation very effectively)  whose USP also includes a proprietary software platform (via the ‘Internet of Things’ (IOT)) to keep a constant eye on energy usage – deciding whether they’ll distribute extra energy to smart appliances, store them in batteries and adjust accordingly by learning patterns based on expected weather movements, user energy habits and so on. The software is hosted with Microsoft Azure IoT Suite cloud platform, which ensures updates and upgrades will be very easy as the technology progresses. This really is a key selling point about Redback – once you’ve used the software for a while it’ll be able to predict a lot about your usage patterns and figure out the best way to save you the most amount of money on your electricity bill.

About Redback Technologies

REdback Technologies Logo
Redback Technologies Logo (Source: Redbacktech.com)

Redback is an unlisted company currently in the final stages of raising capital to help support their expansion into Dubai. Based in Brisbane, the company has more than quadrupled its staff over the last year – expanding from 12 to 52. Retailer EnergyAustralia invested $9.3m into the company in October last year, with some very enthusiastic things to say about both Redback’s solar technology and its cloud-based energy management system which works for households or whole buildings.

Have a look at the video below which introduces Redback Technologies, their founder and MD Philip Livingston, and explains more about their partnership with EnergyAustralia.

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