California energy software and network solutions company Geli has joined the increasingly attractive battery storage market in Australia, announcing on Monday that it has opened an office in Melbourne.
Geli – which stands for Growing Energy Labs Inc, and which is backed by innovation funds sponsored by Shell and the Australian government – has already been involved in the nascent battery storage market in Australia, winning a share of the ACT’s battery storage tender in conjunction with Energy Matters and Tesla late last year.
Now, though, it is seeking to dig further into the “behind-the-meter”, or household market, joining a range players that include California rival Sunverge and and local players Greensync, Redback and Reposit.
Geli says the move is in response to major interest in battery storage solutions, and it has decided to form a partnership with leading solar installer Energy Matters, now part of the Flex group.
The San Francisco based company is also being supported by a $US3 million investment from the Southern Cross Renewable Energy Fund, a partly-government sponsored supporter of clean-tech newcomers, and from the Victoria government’s $20 million new energy jobs fund.
Geli says its speciality is in tailoring battery storage solutions that encourage solar self-consumption, time-of-use shifting, and the delivery of grid services – pooling the resources of multiple domestic battery storage installations to create a “virtual power plant.”
Geli and Energy Matters late last year won part of the ACT government tender with an offering around the Tesla Powerwall, and now intend to expand their sale beyond the ACT.
“The energy management space is growing very fast and we are keen to leverage Geli’s platform to accelerate adoption of storage in the residential and commercial space,” says Wilf Johnston, the managing director of Flex Australia, which owns Energy Matters.
“The experience they bring from having deployed such solutions in other markets will definitely give confidence to our clients.”
Geli CE Dan Loflin said changing incentives for solar PV and the push to modernize Austraia’s grid was opening up opportunities for the rapid expansion of the energy storage market.
“From retailers to hardware providers, we look forward to building deep and successful partnerships in Australia and New Zealand,” Loflin said in a statement.
Head of business development Andrew Tanner says the company would focus initially on the behind the meter make, encouraged by the phasing out of premium feed in tariffs, the high of renewable energy, and the potential to “aggregate” distributed generators into virtual power plants.
“We are very excited about it,” he told RenewEconomy. Right now our focus is on residential virtual power plants, and in commercial and industrial space.
He added that Geli was also looking at opportunities in front of the meter, which would include grid-based storage and partnered with large scale renewables.
“We are actively pursuing programs with DNSPs (distribution networks) for gird support with demand management and other ancillary services,” he told RenewEconomy.
Tanner said Australia was an attractive place to do business – not just because of the battery storage opportunities, but also because it was a “cost effective place” to do R&D, given the high salaries in the highly competitive California market (and competition for staff from the likes of Google, Tesla and other software giants).
Philip Dalidakis, the minister for small business, innovation and trade, said a growing number of tech companies were choosing Melbourne as their Australia and New Zealand headquarters.
Victoria has announced a 40 per cent renewable energy target for 2025, and soon plans to hold its first auctions for large-scale solar plants, following a similar tender for wind projects.
It has also introduced the most generous feed-in-tariff for solar exports, more than doubling the rate to 11.3c/kWh after factoring in rising wholesale electricity costs and an implicit carbon price benefit.