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AGL fast-tracks home energy storage option with 6kWh battery

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AGL Energy has announced the launch of its battery storage product in Australia – ahead of schedule and in step with today’s much anticipated battery announcement from Tesla – making it the nation’s first local energy retailer to stake a claim in the hot new market.

Dubbed the Power Advantage proposition, the new product line will include a range of lithium-ion storage devices made by  “a leading international consumer electronics manufacturer”.

The first “proposition” – customers are being asked able to “register their interest” – will be a limited number of 6kWh batteries the size of a large suitcase, made to suit a family home with around 3-4.5kW of rooftop PV.

AGL's Marc England

AGL’s Marc England

And this will be followed by a suite of products to cater to a range of home and business sizes and types.

Marc England, the head of AGL’s newly created energy divisions – who said in February the plan was to offer battery storage “by the end of the year” – said the company had even beaten its internal goal, which was for the end of June, in its eagerness to get into the space.

“We were very keen to get moving and be the first to market,” England told RenewEconomy in an interview on Friday.

“We’ve been working with various potential suppliers for the last 12 months, trying to source good quality, high quality products, taking our time.”

But the time was right to move on the company’s strategy, England said; which was to be a leader in the rapidly transforming energy market that would be defined by distributed demand and supply.

“We see battery storage as a vital part of energy the eco-system for homes and businesses. This is just one step on the path to providing that.

“The initial product we’re putting in market we believe that will be suitable for a reasonably large home, could be suitable for people who want to store their solar, or for people – such as the thousands of households in NSW who lost power in the recent storms – who want an uninterruptible power source.rooftop-solar6-150x150

England says that from here, the utility will continue to talk with a range of international energy storage suppliers, while also working with Australian consumers on how they will use batteries.

As for the cost of the batteries, AGL says this is not being talked about externally, but will be negotiated with customers based on a range of options, including bundling with existing energy supply contracts, leasing, paying for use or buying outright.

“We don’t know what’s going to work best, but we’ve got our ideas,” said England. “We think many customers, initially,  will want to buy the batteries outright, but we believe many interest will grow in leasing the product, too.”  

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  • Neil_Copeland

    I am in SA on the 44c feed in tariff. SA power networks will remove the 44c tariff if I install batteries. The retailers, distributors and state governments need to stop putting up barriers for people who want to save the planet. (and some money) 🙂

    • Chris Fraser

      They would need to make the battery terms very attractive. And are they seeking to charge and discharge it whenever they like ?

    • ChrisEcoSouth

      In SA, my understanding (subject to latest news from SAPN) is that a battery inverter that exports solar may not be added, if you wish to retain the FiT. However, our customers may use a non-exporting battery-inverter for backing-up important loads such as refrigeration, phones etc. The charge/discharge regime required to manage loads optimally is subtle and complicated – I predict many suppliers will not get this right, and may not even understand it themselves. The economics of it are to be tailored per site – there is no one-size fits all, if you want to optimise your expenditure.

    • Derrp

      install a 2nd PV set that connects just to batteries.

    • Greg Hudson

      G’Day Neil. Do your sums… It may actually be better for you to cut the 44c strings, store all your own power, and buy nothing from SA Power ever again (but still stay connected to the grid just in case) and of course you would have to pay the standard ‘service fee’ even though you never actually get any service ! (Well I don’t – I’m in the same boat, but at 66c instead of 44c).
      Cheers, Greg.

      • Neil_Copeland

        Don’t worry Greg, I have. I earn money on my solar. At the moment batteries will just reduce my earning potential. When things change I will look at it again.

        • Greg Hudson

          G’Day Neil. I too earn money on my exports (I average 10Kwh/day of generation). And agree that at present, batteries would also interrupt my earning potential. However… If we had batteries, and the power stored in them was only used after sunset, and before 11pm (35c/Kwh peak time for me) I could totally eliminate peak usage, and probably off peak as well.
          Here’s a graph from my utility wholesaler, and my spreadsheet with actual data. Note: The rates have now changed from 2014 figures. Peak is now 35c, off-peak is now 12.6c and export is now 66c (all per Kwh).

          I’ve examined my power contract, and it specifically says if I ‘ADD TO’ the solar panels, my FIT drops from PFIT to standard FIT (i.e. from 66c to 6.6c). There’s no mention of batteries, which add nothing to the poer generation. The same MAY apply to you, because you too would not be ADDING TO your power generation.

          I may be totally wrong of course, but that’s how I read it.

          Regards, Greg.

          • Neil_Copeland

            In SA only people who use electric water heaters can have a peak/off peak contract, or J-Tariff as it is known. I use gas, so I don’t get it. I e-mailed SA Power networks and asked them if installing batteries would affect my feed in tariff, they replied, informing me of the changes to their terms and conditions regarding the installation of batteries. They cited that they could not guarantee that the stored energy would not be exported or isolated from the grid during power outages. Obviously that is a load of rubbish as control systems protect from that. Also why would I use my solar to charge a battery only to export it later? It makes no sense. They are just trying to protect an outdated business model. Anyway, I can just hope that they are forced to change their mind in the future. Now that PV is so cheap, I could look into the other suggestion from Derrp and similarly from ChrisEcoSouth to install more PV that only charges batteries which can power the house but are isolated from the grid, don’t know if that is possible but it is an interesting loophole to exploit.

          • ChrisEcoSouth

            I can confirm you can install a battery system that does not jeopardise the grid during power outages. SAPN are concerned about the systems that also have native export capability.

  • david_fta

    AGL know they can’t burn coal forever, they’ve got to build a new business model.

  • Coley

    Seems a similar offer to Teslas but without the price!
    Given Teslas pricing, AGL may find they have put themselves in a bind with their rush to announce this package?

  • Greynomad Travelling

    As I potter around in my motorhome and think about how exciting the future with off grid housing will be I realise that my motorhome already has the essentials but on a smaller scale..
    I have a shower, toilet, 300 litre water tank, satellite TV, LED lighting, a fridge/freezer and 4 deep cycle batteries all running from my 720 watts of solar power… I know its only a small scale but that thinking can be expanded for a larger house and by using very energy efficient appliances and better technology for batteries and management systems…

  • Rob

    AGL need to do more than get a new business model – they need to remake themselves completely if they want to make any headway with renewables and the new economy. They need to cut their losses in CSG and stop fracking in Gloucester and Camden. AGL’s name is mud right now with many customers deserting them and vowing never to return.

  • MARK7SMYTH

    Obviously the 5 KW system that AGL now offers for homes at about $3,000 is in the right ballpark. When the 6 KW system comes out in a couple of months, then, the people with bigger homes, those who have to money to go green, will be more interested in other countries. By the way, the price i read for the 5 KW system was in dollars, but was that in U.S. funds or Aussie funds at $3,000 retail???