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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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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South Australian Virtual Power Plant Launched

Tesla’s South Australian Virtual Power Plant has begun deployment, with the first 100 Powerwalls combined with a 5kW solar array rolling out across a group of South Australian households this month. This rollout is in conjunction with the Household Storage Subsidy Scheme in South Australia.

South Australian Virtual Power Plant

South Australian Virtual Power Plant Tesla
South Australian Virtual Power Plant Tesla (source: Tesla / YouTube)

Housing SA are working with Tesla to install the distributed Powerwall tech which is going to start with a focus on public housing and will end up with arrays and Powerwalls/other batteries (read on to learn about the Household Storage Subsidy Scheme) on up to 50,000 homes. 

Another 1,000 South Australian households will have the Tesla batteries installed before July 2019, but potentially ‘in a few weeks’, according to Electrek. Lots of different figures floating around right now so we’ll update you as we hear more.

It’s actually quite similar to the 100MW / 129MWh Powerpack project in that the whole system will help stabilise the grid and provide a strong baseload of power so we don’t see the blackout issues South Australia suffered through in 2016. In this case it’s not one big project, however – many homes working together will decrease cost of electricity and ensure grid stability improves (and continues to). 

There’s also a separate scheme for other battery subsidies – underwritten by the $100 million Household Storage Subsidy Scheme. The push to help renters and low-income earners enjoy the benefits of solar has been fantastic and we’re excited to see some stats and results after the estimated 40,000 SA households receive on average $2,500 each. Please note that this particular scheme is for people who already have solar power installed and want energy storage as well and is not related to the Tesla virtual power plant.

You can watch a video Tesla released about the South Australian Virtual Power Plant – it’ll explain what the plan is and what we can expect to see next from SA and Tesla!

There’s also a video on Twitter from Nine News Adelaide where the current (Liberal) SA state government seem happy to take credit for this scheme (which was totally organised under the previous (Labor) government). Bit of an eye-roll, but then again it’s par for the course for our beloved Australian politicians.

Regardless of that, the tenant in this video had a $500+ bill for electricity every quarter, which has been reduced to $175 since having the solar system installed. So those are some fantastic numbers!

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Alexandra Canal transport depot solar+storage

The Alexandra Canal transport depot was officially opened by Sydney Lord mayor Clover Moore on Wednesday. It’s powered by 1,600 PV solar panels and also includes a Tesla Powerwall/Powerpack battery which has 500 kWh of energy. It represents the first time solar has been combined with large-scale energy storage in NSW – just like Tesla’s South Australia battery venture earlier this year. 

Alexandra Canal transport depot solar

Alexandra Canal transport depot  solar
Alexandra Canal transport depot solar (source: SMH.com.au / Supplied)

The Alexandra Canal transport depot will have the first government-installed Tesla battery for NSW – following suit from Victoria and South Australia who have already got similar setups. Lord mayor Moore took a look at the facility this week and had some high praise and explanation for the government’s future renewable plans:

“Growing the uptake of renewable energy is critical in combating the worst impacts of climate change,” Ms Moore said, adding:

“We’re working towards a target of 50 per cent of all electricity in the City of Sydney area to come from renewables by 2030.

“To help us achieve that target we’re covering the roofs of our properties with as many solar panels as possible. By mid-2021, we expect to have more than 7800 solar panels on the roofs of our properties. As the mix of storage and generation on our electricity grid changes, solar solutions like this could provide reliability and resilience to our electricity network and potentially prevent blackouts,”

The Tesla Powerpack batteries will be remotely managed by TransGrid and will be the first cab off the rank for a plan which will see Sydney install 1.5MW of battery storage on top of council buildings – with the goal of making their city 50% renewable in the short term. 

TransGrid boss Paul Italiano discussed the project with the Sydney Morning Herald:

“This initiative with the City of Sydney will afford the depot a significant amount of energy self-sufficiency while also sharing benefits with the wider community through the electricity network,” Mr Italiano said.

“By partnering with a site where this service is needed, we can support the City of Sydney’s renewable energy goals and reduce the cost of the council’s depot.”

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Tesla’s SolarCity to be heavily downsized.

Tesla’s domestic solar company SolarCity is to be heavily downsized “in line” with a 9% staff cut across the board for the cash-burning company. Approximately a dozen installation facilities and a retail partnership with Home Depot will be closing as it appears Tesla will focus more on producing its Model 3 electric cars, with solar taking somewhat of a back seat for the immediate future.

Tesla’s SolarCity to be heavily downsized.

Tesla SolarCity downsizing.
Tesla’s SolarCity downsizing. (source: TheStreet)

SolarCity, a residential solar business Tesla bought for $2.6 in 2016, will face some significant cuts including the closing down of ~25% of its installation facilities. The Guardian reported that Tesla haven’t announced which locations will close but an “internal email” advised that the sites which may be closed are located in California, Maryland, New Jersey, Texas, New York, New Hampshire, Connecticut, Arizona and Delaware.

They also fired “dozens” of staffers at solar call centers in Nevada and Utah – so what does this mean for Tesla’s solar future? Has the enigmatic Elon Musk (who owned around 20% of Tesla and SolarCity when the takeover occurred) bitten off more than he can chew with regards to the world’s energy future? You certainly can’t fault his vision – but can he keep all the balls in the air while burning $8,000 a minute?

Tesla’s February Q1 report noted that sales of solar panels “have declined over the last few quarters due in large part to our strategic decision to shutter certain sales channels and market segments.”

According to the report, Tesla deployed 76 megawatts of solar systems during the quarter, or 62 percent less than what SolarCity was deploying in early 2016. It looks like these numbers are set to sink even lower.

The news of Tesla’s solar closures comes hot on the heels of the company initiating legal action against a former Gigafactory worker turned saboteur/whistleblower (depends on which side you’d like to take) – so it’s been a very trying week to add to a fairly trying 12 months for the cash strapped company. 

Would Tesla’s solar enterprise be better off being run separately? We’ll find out soon enough, but fingers crossed in the meantime. 

 

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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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SA Tesla Battery Plan – Election Fallout

The future of the SA Tesla Battery plan brokered between Elon Musk’s Tesla and Jay Weatherill’s is on unstable footing after the results of Saturday’s state election in South Australia, seeing Weatherill’s party defeated by the Liberals. But will it make much of a difference? How will the new party serve SA’s rapidly growing renewable energy industry?

SA Tesla Battery Plan
SA Tesla Battery Plan Future? Jay Weatherill and Elon Musk in happier times (source: SA Labor Facebook)

SA Tesla Battery Plan – What Now?

The incumbent Labor party, headed up by Jay Weatherill, lost to the Liberal party on Saturday night after 16 years of rule in South Australia. The new premier is Steven Marshall who seems quite keen on continuing the Labor party’s work on growing renewable energy in the state.

ABC Radio National Breakfast’s Fran Kelly asked Marshall about the plan to equip housing trust properties with Tesla Powerwall 2 batteries, and Mr Marshall said: “That’s not part of our agenda. Our agenda is 40,000 homes.” However, when pressed about the specifics at a later date, Marshall was a (little) more clear on the Liberals’ plans:

“We don’t know where that is but any contracts the [previous] government’s entered into — we’ll be honouring them, there’s no doubt about that. Any other items that they flagged during the election, we’re happy to look at it but we’ve got our own energy policy agenda and we’ll be rolling that out as a priority.”

We wrote earlier this year about the South Australian solar loan program which both parties had different versions of a renewable energy push for the state – Labor were offering $100m for solar loans in South Australia. Up to 10,000 South Australian homeowners could access up to $10,000 for loans for solar panels, batteries, or both – with the loans interest free for the first 7  years. There was talk of the solar batteries offered in this scheme to be 100% manufactured by Tesla. 

In contrast Steve Marshall’s Liberals had the same amount of expenditure – on a bigger scale, with a smaller amount per household – their $100m plan was to provide grants of $2,500 per household for 40,000 dwellings. Mr Marshall argued at the time that 10,000 households was not enough to ‘shift the dial’, speaking about the rapidly increasing cost of electricity. The Liberals haven’t mentioned Tesla specifically and Marshall doesn’t have the same close relationship as Weatherill had with the enigmatic Elon Musk – but that doesn’t necessarily mean anything. Marshall is clearly keen to move forwards on renewable energy and whether he chooses Tesla or one of the Powerwall 2 alternatives as their energy storage battery of choice may not matter so much.

We’ll keep a close eye on how the Marshall government moves forwards with the SA renewable energy initiatives and keep reporting in! 

 

 

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Victoria solar feed in tariffs to vary based on time.

Victoria solar feed in tariffs – the state’s Essential Services Commission has this week released the details of a brand new feed in tariff (FiT) which changes depending on the hour of the day. It will be introduced to Victoria on July 1. Whilst not compulsory to begin with due to their complicated nature, the tariffs will likely be enforced in 2019/20.

Victoria solar feed in tariffs overview

Victoria solar feed in tariffs - Essential Services Commission
Victoria solar feed in tariffs – Essential Services Commission (source: esc.vic.gov.au)

Changing from a flat FiT to one that is more in life with electricity demand makes sense given that a major problem for solar energy is dealing with supplying power in peak times and during heatwaves. Previously solar feed-in tariffs were calculated on a flat basis, and, although they’ve been raised recently, it’s been neglecting the idea that offering more money for people to feed power back into the grid via a ‘virtual power station’ is likely to help mitigate periods where electricity is unavailable or at a ridiculously high price. 

The idea of a ‘virtual power plant‘ is something being worked at via a supplier level (The AGL Virtual Power Plant‘), a state level (ACT’s Next Generation Energy Storage Program) and a combination of the two (Tesla’s virtual power plant in South Australia). This marks the first time they’ve tried to do this via varying FiTs, however., 

According to RenewEconomy, the regulations will require retailers pay a minimum of 29c per kWh for those who exporting power between 3pm and 9pm, a minimum rate of 10.3c per kWh those feeding power back into the grid between 7am and 3pm, and a minimum rate of 7.1c/kWh (which is actually less than the current price of 7.2c) for those exporting energy during off-peak hours – during 10pm and 7am. So, if people want, for 2018 they can pay an alternative flat rate of 9.9c/kWh, down 1.3c/kWh from the previous flat rate. 

The ESC said that the lower cost for the flat rate from modelling from ACIL Allen. This modelling showed that the “any-time price”of electricity has fallen, but the evening peak price is now higher, and that the constant addition of solar connections will lead to even lower day time prices.

 

 

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Bulgana Green Power Hub to add 20MW Tesla Battery

French renewable energy company Neoen has purchased the Bulgana Green Power Hub, a huge wind+battery storage facility in western Victoria. It will be receiving a Tesla battery similar to the one in South Australia, but just on a smaller scale (20MW vs 100MW). 

Bulgana Green Power Hub

According to the AFR, the 204MW wind farm and 20MW accompanying Tesla battery will entirely power the Nectar Farms crop at Stawell, in Western Victoria. The majority of energy it generates will be fed into the local grid. The Nectar Farms crop is a new 30HA high tech glasshouse facility which will supply tomatoes and other produce for import and export, contributing more than 600 jobs to the Stawell region. 

The Bulgana Green Power Hub will be Neoen’s largest Australian-based project and will create 1300 jobs during construction and 270 ongoing jobs. Neoen are joint owners of the existing 100MW Tesla South Australia solar battery. They are also the developer of the Hornsdale Wind Farm in South Australia (where the battery is located)

“The performance of the South Australian battery is outstanding,” according to Franck Woitiez, Neoen’s managing director. “The Bulgana battery is primarily going to provide energy to Nectar Farms and may support the grid in the future.”

The South Australian battery was tested late last month and performed admirably, delivering 100MW of power to the grid in 140 milliseconds as the Loy Yang Power station tripped and went offline

Lily D’Ambrosio, Victoria’s energy minister, called the agreement “a major step forward for communities, businesses and the renewable energy industry”.

“This project will reduce greenhouse gas emissions while helping meet Victoria’s renewable energy generation targets,” Ms D’Ambrosio said, according to the Sydney Morning Herald.

The Bulgana Tesla solar battery is not expected to come online until mid-2019 but we expect to see similar agreements put in place over the coming year. Read more about the Bulgana project by clicking here to visit their website. 

Bulgana Green Power Hub Location
Bulgana Green Power Hub Location (source: bulganawindfarm.com.au)

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Renovagen commercial-scale portable solar power

UK-based Renovagen has been doing some exciting work in the field of portable solar, with commercial-scale portable solar power systems utilising their ‘rapid roll’ technology recently deployed at Flat Holm, in the UK. They’re also working on rolling out (sorry) this technology on a much larger scale – their “Rapid Roll I” will fit in ISO shipping containers and could be a complete game changer in terms of commercial-scale portable solar power. 

Renovagen’s ‘Solar Carpet’ and Flat Holm

Flat Holm is a small island in the Bristol Channel, five miles off the south Wales coast. Traditionally, providing electricity for it has been a ‘challenge’, according to Flat Holm team leader Natalie Taylor. It has no mains supply and the island has been using old solar panels and diesel generators. 

Gareth Harcombe, energy and sustainability manager at Cardiff Council said: “We were looking at solar and hydro, but that takes up a lot of land and land in cities is expensive. But there is a lot of land that we have that’s available whilst it waits for other opportunities. So this was a question about how we could generate electricity in a way that was portable, so once the site is needed for something else it can be moved on.”

That’s where Renovagen came in – their “rapid roll” roll-up solar panels are providing an average of 11KW of power – enough for four residents and visits from tourists. The system includes batteries capable of storing 24KW/h of power, which is about a day’s worth of the island’s energy requirements. This is a fantastic and cost-effective interim solution until they decide what the optimal choice for Flat Holm’s electricity generation will be. 

Renovagen Solar Carpet
Renovagen Rapid Roll “Solar Carpet” deployed at Flat Holm, UK (source: renovagen.com)

About Renovagen

John Hingley, Renovagen Managing Director, started work on this scaled-up mobile solar technology in 2012. It’s now the leading UK startup in commercial-scale portable solar power systems. They fully funded a £1,000,000 equity investment pitch via the UK crowdfunding platform, Crowdcube, in April last year – to help the speed up the development and go-to-market costs of their “Roll-Away” rapid roll portable solar systems. The company had hoped to raise £600,000 in equity funding so this was a great result. 

Currently based in Milton Keynes, their technology has been growing in leaps and bounds – take a look at the video below to learn more about how it works:

Rapid Roll Overview Video Presentation Sept 2016 from John Hingley on Vimeo.

Renovagen Rapid Roll “I”

The Renovagen Rapid Roll “I” is one of the most exciting of their products – currently under development, this portable solar power solution will come in an ISO (International Standards Organization or intermodal, i.e. a standardised size) shipping container and can provide enough power (depending on how technology goes, this could be up to 600kWp, according to Renovagen) for a small city. 

The idea of mobile and portable industrial size scale solar power one is extremely exciting and it has a lot of potential uses. The Rapid Roll “I” will fit in 20ft ISO or 40ft ISO containers and will be able to deploy 5x200m and 10x200m of solar panels respectively.

It comes complete with inverters and a large battery bank (specifics not available yet). 

Commercial-Scale Portable Solar Power

There are many uses for commercial-scale portable solar – off grid power in remote locations is extremely expensive and complicated to set up. Military, disaster relief, mining, construction, events, film production, and telecommunications are all situations where this ‘container solar’ idea could provide a huge help at a cost-effective price. 

If they’re able to scale this technology quickly, imagine how useful it’d be in situations like Puerto Rico where Hurricane Maria has left their ravaged state-owned utility PREPA trying frantically to restore power to the island’s 3.4 million residents. Elon Musk and Tesla has stepped in – they’ve been shipping their Powerpack and Powerwall batteries over there and there’s talk of installing a Tesla microgrid in Puerto Rico, but it’ll still be months before grid power is restored to anywhere but places that need it the most urgently (hospitals, authorities, etc.)

This is one of the biggest breakthroughs in portable solar of the past 10 years – so we’ll see what happens in the wake of Flat Holm and keep you updated. Very exciting stuff for solar!

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