Take THAT, Tesla: Another Oz energy utility will ship home batteries

Ergon sees the writing on the PowerWall

The Tesla PowerWall announcement is having an effect in Australia, but perhaps not the one Elon Musk predicted: utilities are moving to head it off with their own solar/storage offerings.

Shortly after the Tesla battery launch, NSW's AGL announced its solar customers could add electrical storage, and now Queensland's Ergon energy is toying with the same idea.

Ergon's managed to secure government funding for a trial: the Australian Renewable Energy Agency (ARENA) has agreed to hand over AU$400,000 to support the $2.6 million project.

Ergon will offer solar PV panels from SunPower and batteries from Sunverge (the two companies inked a partnership late in 2014, nominating Australia as one of their target markets).

Initially, the Ergon offering will be tested in 33 homes, which will get a 4.9kW array feeding either 12kWh or 5kWh storage.

The systems, to be installed in the Queensland locales Cannonvale, Toowoomba and Townsville, will be centrally monitored to manage what's fed into the grid and reduce peak load on the network.

The company says it will feed data back to ARENA to help manage the impact of renewables on Australia's national energy market.

As noted at Reneweconomy, Ergon has found that leaving customers in charge of their solar usage is a pain in the neck. Customers receiving a 44c per kWh feed-in tariff tend to push electrons towards the grid during the day (when their own demand is low), and save their own usage for the evening peak.

That's pushing the envelope for its wires and substations, leading the company to consider buying out customers' feed-in tariff contracts. That would encourage users to run appliances when there's the most electricity coming off the roof.

In light of that, a centrally-managed offering makes sense. ®

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