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AGL to roll out 1st battery storage products in Qld in June

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AGL Energy says its first battery storage offering for consumers will be available in Queensland next month, but it won’t be the Tesla Powerwall, which it judges to be too small for the Australian market.

Marc England, the head of AGL Energy’s New Energy division, which is leading the group’s push into solar, battery storage, electric vehicles and other technologies, says AGL has chosen a 7.2kWh battery from Taiwanese firm AU Optronics (AUO) for its initial storage installations.agl storage

AGL Energy is the first of the big retailers to roll out a storage option for households, a decision that was fast-tracked by the recent Tesla Powerwall pricing announcement, and the falling cost of battery storage.

“We’ve spent the last 12 months scanning the world, talking to very different battery manufacturers – and there are a lot out there – trying to find which one will meet the needs of consumers in Australia,” England told ABC TV’s 7.30 Report in an interview. (Not all the interview was broadcast. RenewEconomy obtained a transcript).

“There are several factors in there that matter to Australian households,” England said. “Not only should we consider the absolute capacity of a battery to store energy, which is transformation itself, but also how quickly you can charge and discharge into the hard.

“And so we have chosen a manufacturer certainly for the next few months that will provide a battery that we believe meets Australian consumer needs.”

England said the 7.2kWh AUO battery would come with a 3kW inverter, and the combination would allow Australian consumers to run their appliances and their air-conditioning late in the afternoon.

AUO also owns the BenQ solar brand. More information can be found about the 7.2kWh PowerLegator storage device here and here.

The choice of Queensland is interesting. For those not enjoying the premium feed in tariffs for another decade, payback times for battery storage are among the best in Australia, according to Morgan Stanley.

England said the Tesla Powerwall has a much smaller output of 2kW, “which we think won’t be suitable to Australian consumers.” He said if a battery of that size was in a consumer’s home in Australia. “it’s unlikely that they’ll be able to run their air-conditioner as well is a lights and fridge and other appliances” at the same time.

In any case, the first Tesla batteries will not be available in Australia until early 2016.

England said AGL Energy was not yet talking about price, because of the variable needs of individuals, and whether they were retrofitting a battery to an existing solar system versus or installing a brand new system.

The price would also be dependent on the “bundled package” that would include solar, storage and other products, as well as an energy contract.

AGL Energy and other retailers see energy storage as a key means to retain customers for longer than they currently do, and to keep “skin” and hardware in the game as the energy sector moves to a decentralised model, where half or more of electricity demand will eventually be generated – and potentially stored – on rooftops of homes and businesses and within local communities.

AGL Energy’s new CEO Andrew Vesey is expected to unveil the group’s strategy at a presentation to analysts and investors on Tuesday. As RenewEconomy reported, among the options considered is the split of its assets, although  AGL Energy is unlikely to take this step at this time.

“And so we see our role as bundling the battery with other products at the home such as solar but also an energy contract,” England said. “So we will be talking to individual consumers about that, but we are not talking about an absolute price.”

 

 

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  • Marg1

    Terrific.

  • Malcolm Scott

    Different articles present the PowerWall power spec differently. Tesla claims
    Continuous Power: 2 kW
    Peak Power: 3.3 kW

    • disqus_3PLIicDhUu

      Yes and peak power for inverters is normally specified for 30 minutes.
      Still unless the output is added to ac coupled consumer microgrid during good solar output, 3.3kW output would be pushing it to supply a family household, without serious energy management, during transfer to off grid mode.

    • john

      I think in the Australian context 2 power wall units would be the way to go giving 4kw of demand power which just possibly get you through the evening high use time however using a 8 kw AC may present some difficulty.

      • nakedChimp

        Use the AC during the day and keep the house cool (instead of feeding the pv to your neighbours), not much AC load in the evening needed then 😉
        Also, most houses I see being built up here in FNQ (not talking about the old stock at all) suck in regards to insulation.

      • Miles Harding

        (duplicate deleted)

      • Miles Harding

        That big AC may not be as bad as you think. My last check of our 7kw unit saw it drawing about 1.5kw while at near full heating output. I would guess the COP was about 4 (4x as much heat moved as electricity consumed) and the good makers quote a peak COP of 5 or better.

        nakedChimp, below, makes the good point that decent insulation (passive solar design) and thermal stores would allow the AC to be run while the sun is up, negating the need for much battery buffering. Aussie house designers are mostly useless at this, even the ones that purport to use passive solar design largely do it dismally.

        The big loads are likely to be in the kitchen, which can be very hard on the battery and inverter. It’s easy to trip a 10kw inverter with hotplates, toaster and kettle all on at the same time.

        • CrankyFranky

          yeup – my 3.8kW split air-con uses about 1kw on full-load – but that’s typically only for a short time before the inverter cycles it down – so average use – doesn’t even show up on my electricity bill

    • Miles Harding

      More info here:
      http://www.catalyticengineering.com/top-ten-facts-about-teslas-350kwh-powerwall-battery/

      The report suggests that the internal battery is low(er) voltage with a DC-DC converter. They also suggest that the battery chemistry is different between the 10kwh and 7kwh daily versions, the latter using more conventional li-ion power tool and EV battery chemistry, possibly because the Tesla laptop battery does not cycle so well.

      The power limits will be that of the DC-DC converter (2kw sounds reasonable), with the side issue of ensuring that the battery does not self-heat. The DC-DC converter also allows the battery to protect itself from the extremes of charge level.

  • Michael Skeggs

    Sounds like a post hoc justification or trying to cloud the issue. These devices will still be grid tied so any peak load can come from the grid. Let’s see if they can get the pricing low enough to compete.

    • john

      Michael for peak time it already is completive however peak price does not happen every day all year so to get the average above that peak price and all the time as more take up alternate storage the peak is going to go lower that is the problem for both the companies and the householder.

  • Stan Hlegeris

    Beware–this hook is barbed.

    Product features aside, this sort of offering has the sole aim of getting you locked into a long term contract. The suckers among us will be bamboozled by this sort of offering and will pay for their mistakes over ten or fifteen years.

    The winners will acquire their own storage gear, disconnect from the grid, and have nothing further to do with any electricity retailer.

    • juxx0r

      Exactly Stan, the ONLY reason a gentailer wants you to have one of these is to lock you in.

      • john

        Not exactly they want to have skin in the game, so they will sell you a battery and then support it and you will get some benefit out of it at the same time they benefit because they do not have to pay the high peak in the evening where the peak is now.

    • Jacob

      But how would the average voter know what battery is best?

      The safest option is to buy electrons from a firm like SolarCity. They will sell you electrons for $0 upfront.

      • Warwick

        Won’t help much in Australia…

        • Jacob

          I think $0 upfront pay as you go solar PV is now available in AUS.

          They sell you electrons for 15-22c/kwh.

          • Warwick

            Solarcity looks to be US based…maybe that’s changed?

          • Jacob

            SolarCity does not operate in AUS. There are others who offer $0 upfront solar power.

            SunEdison is one.

      • juxx0r

        Rumour has it that banks will lend you money for $0 upfront and they’ll leave you alone just as soon as you’ve paid it back.

        • Jacob

          Great! So Mr bank manager, what batteries do I put in?

          • nakedChimp

            find some trustworthy person (working in that trade) and ask him/her that question.. your energy retailer might fit that role, but be careful as there is this one simple truth – they all want your best, your money. Act wisely and carefully.

      • Stan Hlegeris

        Jacob–that’s an important question for which we don’t yet have a definitive answer for people in Australia.

        The Tesla product is the obvious top choice, but you’ll have to wait until 2016 for that.

        There are other battery offerings which will do the job just fine and which will suddenly get much cheaper now that Tesla has set the new standard. The main trick is to deal with a supplier/installer who has an established physical presence in your town and a reputation to protect.

        Stay clear of any vendor which has a 1300 number but no address, as these guys pass your job to any installer willing to accept a very low installation fee and won’t be there if you have any performance issue.

        Finally, I suggest you go as big as you can on the production side. PV modules are cheap as chips, and the more production capacity you have the less battery storage you need.

        At my house in SE Queensland I have a 10kW system. Over the 1200 days since it was installed, there has never been a day on which the system produced less power than we used in the 24 hour period, including those rare days on which it seemed to rain all day long. That means we only ever need storage enough for one night–5kWh storage is enough; 10kWh means we have a huge margin.

        • Alastair Leith

          Ah QLD, insolation on rainy days…

        • plumplum

          Probably NOT a good idea to go with panels just on price…. You get what you pay for and there is still a great oversupply of cheap (shoddy quality) panels from tier 3 suppliers.

    • Chris Fraser

      We not even wondering why we experience auto-cynicism when it comes to the Big Three. It might have been the incessant lobbying for removing the Carbon Price and then RET for their own enrichment. They’ll have people asking a lot of questions about these products.

  • As a research facility which lives off-grid – and relies on AGM batteries – (‘gel cells’) – which are likely to be around for a long time yet – we have developed technology that effectively doubles their service life (conditions apply!!) – so that AGM (Absorbed Glass Mat) cells – which are lead acid technology) – effectively halve their cost over time – making them not only cheaper (in the long run) than Li – but immediately available. Basically it is an electronic ‘sledgehammer’ (> 1000A pulses) that reduces losses to sulphation. We’ve had them in operation for over 12 years now. Unfortunately it doesn’t work with flooded cells.. dunno why.. PHD for someone..

    • john

      Hugh
      Please publish the paper and put in place a system to do this as you know the battery manufacturing industry is extensive and would just fall over to make sure they have a chance in the industry going forward

      • suthnsun

        Yes , Hugh please do. Lead is readily recycled and AGM is going down in price, 12 years operation would be excellent.

        • Unfortunately we are one of those little ‘not for profit’ environmental foundations that the Fed’s have their beady eyes on .. I’m trying to entice an electronics engineering grad to work for 6 mo – basically ‘cleaning up’ the design .. and making it marketable. Basically it’s really simple – the devil, as ever, is in the details. and power semiconductor technology is changing at quite a clip. So at present we have 6 trial systems in operation (not including the original ones – which were designed at the behest of the Qld Gov’t 12 years ago. See the report on our rather horrible website http://www.austrop.org.au.

          • Coley

            Being an avid reader of these boards I find it incredible that a “home grown” maker of PV panels, batteries et al hasn’t emerged in Australia to take advantage of this rapidly emerging market!??

          • john

            Coley there were and is a PV maker in Australia

          • Coley

            Sorry, but I got the impression from what I read on here that most, if not all are, imported as will most of the stuff needed for the ‘ storage revolution’ being currently predicted?

        • john

          I tried to ring Hugh but not at home
          I will follow this up

          • just email me via the web page…

          • john

            ok Hugh
            am in the middle of a course atm so will follow this up later

    • nakedChimp

      My dad bought something like that couple of years ago back in Germany.. was called Battery Jogger.. never used it though 😉
      http://forum.elektor.com/viewtopic.php?f=1543740&t=164662
      https://www.elektormagazine.com/magazine/elektor-200411/17830

      • Hi – thanks – Elektor aren’t that forthcoming with details – but looking at the circuit board pictures – no way would it be effective – there have been loads of desulphators sold on the market – and the patent literature is thick with them .. of all sorts of complexity.. and basically they don’t work – (at least for real storage cells) as you need whopping current pulses to overcome the battery’s inherent capacitance, before you can do any desulphating. So that’s what ours does.

      • so where are you in FNQ?

        • nakedChimp

          CNS area

          • OK – then I’d be delighted to contact you – email me at
            hugh@austrop.org.au

          • nakedChimp

            Small world – will contact you soon. Sometimes got work to do at the Research Crane next door.. just involves a 200km drive beforehand 😉

            PS: if you don’t want to receive a lot of spam, better scramble that email address there..

          • None so far – just send me an email – thanks

  • Engineer Malcolm

    Wonder how long it will be before the Qld distributors put up barriers to connection ?

    • john

      Malcolm
      at the moment they are not which is good.
      Frankly they do realise what is coming and they know the best course of action is to cooperate and if possible have skin in the game as AGL does.

      • nakedChimp

        Ergon seems more interested than Energex in QLD, which is good as Ergon operates the far fetched rural grid.

        Connecting batteries is no problem afaik.

  • Alen T

    AGL has had quite the ride in recent years. It went from being the greenest generator, to becoming the dirtiest, and round again to make headlines and announcements on specific deadlines in closing FF generators, creating a new (RE focused) division, and of course now joining the tide and enabling PV and battery system uptake by consumers.

    Readers here have long ago now been made aware that this is the inevitable future, and it is about time others knew and admitted it too. And unless I’m very mistaken, AGL has very clearly stated through its actions that coal has no future in the modern power grid.

    I’m eager to see what will happen as we approach the election and Labor tries to bring back an ETS and a carbon price. Scare tactics from the LNP about price rises will almost certainly spur a new rush of solar installations, with a good number potentially opting to include a battery system too. The result will be the long-predicted death spiral.

  • Ian

    Solar panels and batteries are two very different animals. Solar panels are like roof tiles: set and forget, out the way and on top of a roof. Batteries are bulky, have relatively short lives, and are expensive. Our energy saviour Elon Musk’s offering is hopeless, the ugly thing AGL wants to peddle looks downright dangerous. Energy retailers have some huge advantages in the energy provision game and that is reliability and invisibility. I propose a small electronic box which can fit in the meter board as a virtual battery. The householder could purchase say 10 kWh of storage at a competitive rate from the retailer and then ‘charge’ or use this ‘storage’ to their heart’s content, any excess power sent to the grid or drawn from the grid would attract the normal pathetic payments or exorbitant fees the retailer likes to charge. Other options for such a virtual storage device would be creating a virtual ‘ private distribution line ‘ from point of generation to point of consumption. For example, a tenant in a city unit could generate power from solar panels in a solar allotment and use this to offset their power consumption in the city, just as though the panels were sitting on their own rooftop.