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.
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.
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.”