Australia’s first Powerwall installed for solar trial

The first Powerwall battery has been installed in Queensland for a 12-month investigative trial.

State government owned power company, Energex, has installed Australia’s first Tesla Powerwall that will investigate the ways they can be integrated into the electricity supply.

The trial aims to demonstrate how the battery storage system can assist Energex customers to choose to no longer rely on the main power grid.

Another storage system from Calafornia-based company Sunverge has also been installed at the training facility in Brisbane. Energex will be collecting data from them both to determine how solar batteries can integrate into the network and give consumers financial incentives.

The trial will begin by monitoring the systems installed in the homes of Energex employees’, and then later extend monitoring to outside consumers. The trial was introduced following the lobbying by Annastacia Palaszuk, the Queensland Premier, of Tesla executives six months ago in the US.

Queensland is home to one of the highest residential solar panel system installation rates in the world, however over the last few years financial incentives have been diminished as the rate paid to consumers for returning power to the grid was dramatically cut.

It’s expected that the release of the Powerwall commercially in 2016 will increase popularity of purchasing a system which would generate enough energy to run televisions, air-conditioning and another appliance for seven hours at best.

Battery cost still key barrier

The uptake of solar batteries in Australia is being dramatically held back by the cost. It’s estimated that it would take around 17 to 26 years to recover the investment after buying a Powerwall ($17,300 for a whole new system and about $10,000 for a house with solar panels already installed).

Anastasia Palaszczuk stated that the Powerwall installed by Energex was “the first operational one of its kind in Australia,”.

“This is the first step. It is going to change the way Queensland families will obtain their electricity into the future…”It will mean a great mix, whether that is from the solar that you have installed on your rooftops with the current mix of what you are getting through the transmission wires,” she stated.

According to Mark Bailey, the energy minister, the solar battery integration trial would place Queensland network companies “ahead of the game and make sure we can get the most out of the Powerwall and other battery storage systems that benefit consumers and also the network and our electricity grid,”.

He also noted the importance of a smooth transition to clean energy, in particular in Queensland because of its high solar PV take-up rate.

“We must manage this transition to clean energy – consumers want it, the public wants it, it benefits everybody and this is a very exciting day,” he said.

Energex chief executive Terry Effeney stated that with information on the effect solar batteries have on peak demand, energy utility providers could put off expensive construction investments or reduce power generation when possible.

Mr Effeney said that in contrast to consumers quitting the grid all together, the year long trial would, “demonstrate that in fact the best way to use batteries and solar is to integrate them into the grid to deliver the best possible outcome to the customers,”.

Image: Tesla Energy
Source: Australia’s first Powerwall installed for solar trial

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