With the Australian behind-the-meter storage market expected to 'explode' in the next five years, Tesla will be hoping its much-vaunted Gigafactory will help it meet demand. Image: Tesla.
A utility has been first off the mark to put Tesla Powerwall stationary storage systems on sale in Australia, with installations expected to begin in February.
Following the news that in the US, a small utility in Vermont was first to offer the device to customers – including a no-money-down option – Australian utility Origin Energy started offering the battery system to its customers on 10 December.
Origin already has around 400,000 customers with solar from a total customer base of around 4 million, the utility claimed, and is offering solar-plus-storage as a package, bundling the Tesla Powerwall with Chinese manufacturer Trina Solar’s PV panels and a SolarEdge inverter. Various Australian news outlets reported the price at around AU$16,500 (US$11,900), including PV panels and inverter, and thought to also include installation cost.
A few days later, CSR, a building products company, also started offering the Powerwall through its subsidiary Bradford Solar, claiming that it could offer a solar-plus-storage package for “around AU$15,000” or Powerwall and inverter only for “around AU$10,000”. However, CSR’s customers may have to wait a little longer than Origin’s, with first installations ready for booking in March 2016, according to Bradford Solar’s website.
Both companies’ offerings are the 6.4kWh model, for daily cycling applications including charging during the day to use power at night, although a version with 10kWh for backup power is also expected to be made available in the region. The 6.4kWh version can provide 3.3kW continuous and peak power for charge and discharge. The battery storage systems have a performance warranty of up to 10 years.
Australia’s behind-the-meter sector tipped for ‘significant growth’
Australia has been tipped for big things in energy storage, particularly behind-the-meter applications, not least of all by various industry groups and think tanks based in the country. GTM Research’s Brett Simon also told PV Tech Storage that the market is poised for “substantial growth” over the next few years. An October report from the Climate Council non-profit organisation said the combination of solar and storage could lead the country in a "people-led renewable revolution". Meanwhile in November, GTM Research predicted the residential sector to be installing 132MW a year by 2020.
“A significant number of battery vendors and storage system developers are targeting Australia as a key market, with widespread rollout of systems expected by mid-2016. Electricity retailers, such as Origin, are recognising the potential of this market and are beginning to offer energy storage systems to their end customers,” Simon said.
High electricity prices, variable regional feed-in tariff (FiT) rates that have mostly fallen and high levels of solar irradiance mean that Tesla and international competitors such as Enphase have marked Australia as one of the first markets for their respective home battery products. Enphase claims its AC battery will be sold to volume purchasers at AU$1,150/kWh (US$838/kWh).
“…Formerly high feed-in-tariffs in New South Wales and Victoria are expiring at the end of 2016, while new solar PV customers nationwide are eligible to receive very low feed-in-tariff rates for their exported solar electricity,” GTM’s Brett Simon said.
“As a result, energy storage systems present an attractive option for homeowners either installing new solar PV systems or who have lost their high feed-in-tariffs: by storing and then later consuming excess solar electricity, rather than exporting it, consumers can maximise value and avoid paying high electricity rates.”
According to Simon, it is too early to judge how the Powerwall will fare in Australia, with other makers including Tesla’s Gigafactory collaborator/competitor Panasonic already selling home PV storage systems through three local utilities.
“The systems have not seen widespread adoption yet meaning data points are limited. In terms of price, I expect the price of AU$16,500 to be at least competitive with other offerings currently in the market,” Simon said.
Tesla Model S with Powerwall. Image: Tesla.