Solar loans in South Australia, sonnen to move HQ

Premier Jay Weatherill has announced $100m for solar loans in South Australia. Up to 10,000 South Australian homeowners will be able to access up to $10,000 for loans for solar panels, batteries, or both. The loans will be interest free for the first 7  years. At the same time, German company sonnen has announced it will relocate its Australian headquarters from Sydney to Adelaide – we’ll report more on that next week. 

Solar Loans in South Australia

Solar Loans in South Australia
Solar Loans in South Australia (source: Jeremy Buckingham via Wikipedia)

Yesterday the Labor party made the announcement that they will offer these solar loans for private homes – with Premier Weatherill discussing the ramifications of the plan in a press conference:

“It’s going to slash bills, we’ve already seen that with our virtual power station, modelling demonstrates a 30 per cent reduction in energy power,” he said.

“We’ve seen from the national regulator that renewable energy projects are projected to reduce energy bills by $300 over the next two years, so it’s just beginning to happen.”

The Liberal party already announced a very similar policy last October so it looks like there’ll be a good result for renewables no matter who wins – it’s a little surprising to see Premier Weatherill offer something so similar when he has been such a champion of renewable energy for so long. Regardless, it’s a great scheme and one which will have a good result either way – South Australia continues to lead the charges with regards to renewables in Australia.

According to the ABC, opposition leader Steven Marshall said their $100m plan was to provide grants of $2,500 per household for 40,000 dwellings – so less money, but for more properties. Mr Marshall argued that 10,000 households was not enough to ‘shift the dial’ with regards to ballooning energy prices:

“The reality is 10,000 is not going to shift the dial in South Australia in terms of prices, unlike the Liberal Party which has put our policy up for independent scrutiny and we know that prices will come down under the Liberal Party’s energy policy,” Mr Marshall said.

“We’ve put our plan out for independent evaluation.

“Labor still hasn’t provided any indication whether this is going to bring down energy prices in South Australia for any more than just the 10,000 people it’s talking about.”

Back in October last year the Liberal party said their plan will save $300 per household per annum, but later admitted their modelling was inaccurate and the savings will be around $70 and won’t start until 2022. To achieve that figure of $300 a $500m-$700m interconnecter to New South Wales would need to be connected by 2021.

No word on specific savings with regards to Labor’s plan so for the time being voters will need to decide whether $2,500 for 40,000 houses or $10,000 for 10,000 houses is going to have a better effect on energy prices and stability. No doubt we’ll have more information on this as election time draws nearer! 

 

Tesla Virtual Power Plant in SA

A Tesla Virtual Power Plant will be built in South Australia, comprising of 50,000 home solar and battery systems state-wide. The deal between the South Australian Government and Elon Musk’s Tesla was announced last week by Premier Jay Weatherill ahead of the SA March state election. 

The SA government have pledged to do their part in the implementation of the virtual power plant scheme with a $2 million grant and a $30 million loan from the state Renewable Technology Fund.

Tesla Virtual Power Plant

According to Premier Weatherill, a trial of the scheme has already begun in Housing Trust properties, with 100 properties to receive their systems by EOFY (June 30), and another 1,000 in FY 18/19. After the trial is complete another 24,000 Housing Trust properties will receive the systems. 

Since there’s no word yet on the Tesla Powerwall 3 release date, they’ll use the Powerwall 2 batteries which have a 13.5kWh size. 5kW solar arrays will also be used for the 50,000 homes included in the virtual power plant. No word yet on the specifics of the solar panels the arrays will consist of but we’ll bring you that information as it becomes available.

Tesla Virtual Power Plant - Powerwall 2 Solar Battery
Tesla Virtual Power Plant – Powerwall 2 Solar Battery (source: tesla.com)

A statement from Tesla was released: 

“When the South Australian Government invited submissions for innovation in renewables and storage, Tesla’s proposal to create a virtual power plant with 250 megawatts of solar energy and 650 megawatt hours of battery storage was successful. A virtual power plant utilises Tesla Powerwall batteries to store energy collectively from thousands of homes with solar panels. At key moments, the virtual power plant could provide as much capacity as a large gas turbine or coal power plant.”

Danny Price of Frontier Economics discussed the program with the ABC:

“The biggest saving for consumers is that they don’t have to pay for as much network cost to deliver power to them because they’re generating their own power,” Price said.

Zoe Bettison, the Minister for Social Housing, discussed the reason they are installing these solar + storage systems in Housing Trust properties:

“We know that people in social housing can often struggle meeting their everyday needs and this initiative will take some pressure off their household budget,” she said.

A mammoth deal and step forward for South Australian solar – we’ll bring you more information as it becomes available!

Reposit Power and their Virtual Power Station

Canberra-based renewable energy startup Reposit Power are predicting their client base will double within a year, and hope to have their technology in 5,000 homes by 2020. Their ‘virtual power station’ model is one we’ve seen before (Enova’s community solar, AGL’s virtual power plant which is in advanced stages of trials), but we’re excited to see how Reposit’s system works. Anything that helps improve baseline power is great for Australian energy as a whole. 

Reposit Solar, the Reposit Box, and ‘Grid Credits’

Reposit Power Control Diagram
Reposit Power Operation Diagram (source: repositpower.com.au)

Reposit Power have a ‘smarter, more intuitive way’ to control energy usage. According to their site, it typically costs approximately 4-6% on top of solar + storage, but these batteries will then be paid off in half the time as standard solar + storage. 

The system learns your energy usage patterns to feed back into the grid at optimum times. Every GridCredit you feed back into Reposit’s virtual grid represents a dollar off your bill – and the system automatically trades excess energy for GridCredits when the demand is at its highest. 

The system also uses advanced weather models to predict solar usage, factors in peak/offpeak tariffs, and will even charge your system overnight from the cheaper tariffs if it detects a probably energy shortfall for the next day’s peak hours.  It has an app which will display all information you need to know about the system, how much you’re saving, and how many GridCredits you are earning. 

Reposit Power Compatible Batteries

There are currently eight Reposit compatible batteries – they are available ‘pre-integrated’ from leading vendors or you can 

  • LG Chem Resu 6.4kWh
  • LG Chem Resu
  • LG Chem Resu HV
  • Fronius Solar Battery
  • GCL e-KwBe
  • Pylontech
  • Tesla Powerwall 1
  • Samsung All in One ESS

Reposit Power & Tesla Powerwall 2 Compatibility

Please note that there are no GridCredits on the Tesla Powerwall 2 as they won’t integrate with cloud / Internet only based control systems – given that it wouldn’t be able to function correctly if the Internet was unavailable. Since the Powerwall 2 is tremendously popular, this is a serious blow to Reposit Power’s ‘virtual power station’ – wonder if they’ll figure out a way to rectify this before the Tesla Powerwall 3 announcement

If you want to read more about Reposit’s choice to not integrate with these cloud control systems please click here to read a detailed post on their website. 

If you want to understand Reposit’s system please view the video below!