Australia's First Powerwall Batteries Are Already Installed In NSW

When Tesla's Powerwall battery energy storage system was first announced, solar-friendly Australians went mad for it. A relatively cheap integrated system that could hook up to the grid and to rooftop solar panels, the Powerwall is one of the first widely-available technologies that could reduce users' reliance on energy delivered via the national electricity grid. And now, one of the first Powerwall batteries to be installed in Australia is already bolted to the outside wall of a home in western Sydney.

Image credit: Hugo Sharp Photography

Australia Is The First Country To Get Tesla's Powerwall Battery

Australia is the first country in the world to have Powerwall batteries installed and delivered, and companies like Natural Solar and Origin Energy are receiving and installing their first shipments into homes and businesses around Australia. New South Wales is first, but other states and territories have their first installations scheduled from the start of next week onwards.

Nick Pfitzner, an IT manager and systems developer, is one of the first Australians to have a Powerwall battery installed in his house. He's followed battery storage technology for some time, and is a Tesla fan, although he hasn't pulled the trigger on a Model S just yet. "Natural Solar were the first company listed as a Tesla partner when Powerwall was finally available to the market, in December 2015.

"I've been watching Tesla since the Roadster was first released, as I work in IT and was quite a fan of Elon Musk in general. When it was announced last year that they were moving into household energy storage, it was not really surprising given the leaps they'd made in the electric vehicle areas. I jumped onto the official Tesla reservation list (twice I think) but was eager to see when the certification process would finally pass here."

The Tesla Powerwall Is Just The Beginning: The Electricity Storage Revolution Coming To Australia

The Pfitzner household is the archetypal nuclear family -- Nick and his wife have a boy and a girl, both in primary school. Their house in Sydney's western suburbs is on the larger side and has the potential to consume a lot of electricity, although it has efficient lighting and timed circuits to cut down on standby energy consumption.

"We have what you'd consider a large home for this part of Sydney, with four bedrooms, a study, double garage, and ducted air conditioner. Throw in a pool to operate and the temperatures out this way, and we are at the higher end of electricity consumption. Unfortunately there's no electric car -- though it is on the radar with the Tesla Model 3.

"That said, I've taken measures to limit the amount of waste by putting in LED lights wherever possible, and other initiatives like digital timers on certain devices e.g. A/V equipment. We use our dryer rarely, preferring clothes lines in the back yard, or airing the clothes inside during particularly wet or stormy weather."

Natural Solar was the first Tesla Powerwall installer certified to sell the units in Australia, and bundles its own system -- solar panels and third-party hybrid inverters from SolarEdge -- with a 5kWp (kilowatt-peak) Powerwall home battery. The entire system costs in the region of $15,000, and allows a household to significantly reduce its imprint on the larger Australian electricity grid -- an especially efficient household could subsist on solar panels and Powerwall alone.

Enphase's Energy System Hits Australia: Tesla Rival For Home Electricity Storage

A Powerwall and solar installation will not pay for itself quickly, and in an area with low per-kilowatt rates for grid electricity it may not be cheaper than staying connected to the grid and avoiding a solar installation altogether. But for early adopters and those wanting to reduce their impact on the environment through centralised energy sources -- many of which in Australia are coal or gas-fired power plants -- the Powerwall is seen as a pivotal device for electricity independence.

Pfitzner said his experience with Natural Solar has been positive, and the company itself is a big proponent of the Powerwall. "After the initial discussions in December, and a hectic Christmas period for everyone, I put down the deposit on my 5kW system with Powerwall on 5th January. Its only just gone three weeks later and now it's in. I first logged my interest with Natural Solar in December of 2015, and Oliver returned my call. I could tell right away that this wasn't a sales pitch -- these guys knew what they were doing from the front office right through.

"When Oliver sent me through the quote for the system and I saw his qualifications in engineering I knew I'd made the right decision. Every step of the way since, they've been open, honest, and always taken the time to explain things or just have a chat about where the industry is going -- and the excitement around Tesla Powerwall in particular." While Pfitzner is its first customer, the installer says it has had widespread interest and has more installations booked.

Natural Solar boss Chris Williams told Gizmodo that the company was planning on a big year in 2016, both for Powerwall and solar installations more generally. "We've been planning for this for some time, and see this as a pivotal moment in the renewable industry moving forward. The versatility of the solutions we offer at Natural Solar allow multiple applications and our engineers are well-equipped to deliver fully customised solutions to meet the needs of each and every customer in Australia.

"2016 will prove to be a defining moment in the movement towards battery energy storage, both residentially and commercially." [Natural Solar]

WATCH MORE: Science & Health News


    LOL! Now report back in 25 years (if they still live there) when the break even so we can start adding up how much they save... what a doop.

      In 5 years time when the cost of electricity is a dozen times more expensive that it is now they'll be the ones laughing.

        Why will the cost of electricity rise? Coal prices are falling, electricity should get cheaper, if anything. Several studies in the US have shown that it can take up to 43 years to break even with a Powerwall and that even the best scenario will take more than 20 years, which is probably longer than the duty cycle of the cells. i.e. It will need to be replaced before it saves you a penny.

          Electricity is *alot* cheaper in the US. furthermore, coal is cheaper because *no one wants to use it*. Apart from the pollution issues it causes in more condensed countries, it will soon become politically untenable to use it, Australia is already a pariah (not to mention destroy the planet)

          Oh, for historical reasons:

          Electricity prices get cheaper in Australia? It's great to be positive, but some times you have to give in and be realistic. It's only going to get more expensive.

          Well were averaging a power bill of $700 a month here with the cost of the system at 15k and assuming we would still have a small draw from the grid wed likely cover our cost in around 7 years

          wait what....
          have you not seen your electricity bill? its constantly going up!

        Hi i have had battery power for the 15yrs never get bills power black outs best thing ever i has done regards ron

      LOL! Renewable energy is so wacky! Fuck the environment.

        If you truly cared about the environment then you would be advocating a reduction in the human population. That is the only thing guaranteed to save this planet.

          I think the planet will be fine, people though, we might be done for........this is a nice positive start to the morning!!

          When there is too much population, the result is an inevitable reduction through several ways. War, famine, disease, that sort of thing, which often go hand in hand with each other.

          Do a little research on pandemic level disease for example, and you'll see a pattern of one roughly every 100 years that effects big proportions of the worlds population. Smaller one seem to pop up every 10 years (swine flu or Ebola outbreaks for example), and medium ones somewhere in the middle.

          The last global pandemic was the Spanish Flu in 1918, which effected something like 500 million people, killing 75 million. The timing also suggests that WW1 had a lot to do with it, given the poor conditions many people would have lived in after being bombed back to the stone ages.

          Or you might also see war, where overpopulation needs to expand into more sparsely populated regions. Imagine how tempting Australia might be to the various overpopulated Asian countries for example, and what that might bring. They get desperate enough, you never know.

          But we're overdue for a truly global pandemic, and there are plenty of areas where it could start. The scary thing is, if something happened on the scale of the 1918 flu pandemic, you're talking about 3-4 billion being effected. How do you treat that?

          Australians generate 4 times the amount of co2 than the world average. The human population isn't the problem. the Australian population is (or more, its policies and attitudes).

          The world population is expected to plateau, and the world has plenty more capacity for humans if we use science (lab grown meat anyone?) and will to change our ways. (rather than using doomsday scenarios to give up before we even try and justify our laziness)

            Pfft pull the other one. The tiny Australian population has no effect. 4 times the amount per capita of the average country is nothing when your population is over 50 times less than China or India. And good one if you're going to blame me, part of the Australian population, for coal mining. Never even seen a coal mine in person, let alone have any say in what our mining companies do.

              Just the emissions *from our electricity generation* that's right, the energy that you and I use, is about 3 times more per capita than the world average. As for the argument about our small population... You do realize those other massive nations aspire to be like us, right? as in have all the same luxuries and services as us? We are an example. Why should we not assume the worlds population will one day be as privileged as us? Or do you think its acceptable to damn them to poverty forever and only we should live the high life? Is that your solution to this problem?

              There are two possibilities: those nations follow us as an example, world emissions quadruple and we're doomed. Or those nations adopt a sustainable future, and somehow Australia is allowed to generate 4 times the pollution than the rest of the world, just cause... yeah right, I'm the one having a laugh...

          Are you volunteering to be the first to go? Thought not you waste of space.

          You first ey? I on the other hand know how to build billion population cities. The problem isn't supporting a ten billion population. It's the people who object. It's greenies who think 'i can live on a square mile and burn Firewood but we need to kill ninety percent of the world population so that can happen.' it's religious fundamentalists who think 'i'm Gods chosen few, and I need to kill the rest because God tells me so.' it's the ' i don't want to live in a one bed shipping container apartment in a billion population city' crowd.
          We can build a billion population city in an area of land twenty miles wide and a hundred miles long with an apartment block of a thousand apartments on a one acre lot and build a million such apartment blocks from Darwin to Arnhem land declare fifty percent of Australia national park, and the other half a farm for food production. It means we demolish all other cities and towns. No suburbs, no drugs, no rapists and serial killers. No freedom of religion, no political parties. An end to your civilization. The future is more important than you.

      It's not all about money, its can also be about reducing imprint and reliance on unsustainable energy. This is clearly mentioned in the article

      I currently have enough solar to be completely off the grid, has already paid for itself twice over. With one of these I would have near endless energy supply with a surplus to put back into the grid and in additional to not paying bills, will make money on. hurrr durrrrrrrrr

      We got solar, no batteries when it was really expensive, a lot mor than now we haven't paid a bill since often getting$200-$300 back. Enjoy sitting back and laughing at the critics. Good for all those who made the research, even better now solar is so cheap.

    Why is Gizmodo such an enthusiastic advertiser for Tesla? We've had a similar but not Tesla system for several years now. Cheaper than Tesla's, looks good although quite different. Same specifications though! Get your head out of Elon Musk's arse and do some real reporting!

      Yeah! Stop reporting about stuff that I don't like and write news about things that I want! That's real reporting!
      Get of your high horse.

        High horse? Don't have one. And since when is editorial copy supporting one company reporting? It's not! I guess you never heard of objectivity.

          Hah! I doubt you really understand enough about the specifications of your system as you seem to lack the confidence to share them with us.

          Specifically, I'm interested to know the $ per usable kWh of storage factoring in appropriate battery depth of discharge of your system and the rated number of cycles at that depth of discharge. Of course feel free to chuck in a few of your own irrelevant specifications..

      ... did you just try and be a home battery storage hipster?

      broo, I was totes into renewable energy before it was cool and then went all commercial.

      Last edited 29/01/16 9:45 am

      To be fair, Elon Musk does some pretty cool shit, specially with tech, so it's hard not to be enthusiastic.

        Yep you sure do!! :) Keep up the awesome work Campbell

        Technology articles on a tech blog? HOLY SHIT!!!

        Yes, Campbell, you report it all but if you can't see the bias when it comes to Tesla, then you really aren't looking very hard. All your other articles compare to Powerwall, as though it was already well established and everyone knew about it. i.e. Your articles set up Powerwall as the default choice in readers' minds, giving them a leg-up for no discernable reason. e.g. the last paragraph of your Enphase article reads "helping start the shift to distributed energy storage systems is the Powerwall" with absolutely no justification whatsoever. If anyone wanted to shift to distributed energy storage, they could have had a windmill and a bank of lead-acid batteries 50 years ago.

          I don't have any bias towards Tesla, mate -- I'm not a shareholder, I don't own one, I probably won't ever. I tell you who has a bias towards Tesla and the Powerwall, though? Our readers, who flock to stories about it in ten times the number of any other solar or BES article :) We write articles that our readers will be interested in -- it's what we do.

          You can't escape the fact that Powerwall *got people interested* in BES. It's been a great springboard for us to tell our readers about other systems like Panasonic's and Enphase's and the others companies we're already talking to.

            Its the same blinkered attitude that you see whenever Apple releases something, and there's a wave of stories about it. Apple didnt invent Product X, Company Y did. Take your pick, theres a range of them and you would have seen them all.

            What these companies are doing though is releasing market ready products into a market thats actually ready to accept them. Apple didnt invent the smartphone, but it made the most inroads in making them relevant. Ditto here.

            Best think for me is that this powerwall finally creates a market that might survive. Which is a) the timing, and b) the respect of the company behind it.

            It's a circular argument, Campbell. Tesla got everyone interested because sites like this pushed the hell out of it and made it sound like pure magic. i.e. It is all about Tesla in people's minds because you made it all about Tesla. It captured your imagination, then you proceeded to capture others on Tesla's behalf.

              I strongly disagree with you. I think my post above shows that we've done more than almost all others in Australia (except RenewEconomy, IMHO) in talking about the multitude of battery energy storage and solar systems that are popping up around the country.

              Powerwall is just one of those, and we've been clear in pointing out its advantages and disadvantages. Moreso than the mainstream media and our own tech competitors. We don't push anything -- we write about what is new and newsworthy. But that's a conversation for another time.

                No point Engaging with him. He is an uninformed troll who loves to have a sooky la la about everything.

                Give aboriginals recognition - Sooky la la
                People want to discuss tv shows - Sooky la la

              Why so butthurt SomeOtherIdiot, Did Campbell hurt your poor widdle feewings reporting on something people wanted to hear about?

      Ill support Tesla, because Musk will use the money to take us to Mars.

    Hmmmmmmm is it the smartest idea to install it on the outside of the house? I thought they were meant to be in the garage.
    I'm sure it wouldn't be to hard for people to unhook and take. It is Western Sydney........... :P

      I hear they have a security feature called live electricity, it sends a whole lot of electricity through your body if you try to cut a cable, most people only need one hit before being discouraged!

      But, I would be installing mine in the garage next to my inverter anyway.

      Last edited 29/01/16 10:50 am

    [quote]The entire system costs in the region of $15,000, and allows a household to significantly reduce its imprint on the larger Australian electricity grid[/quote]

    Just curious if that's 15k installed or 15k + installation.

      Contact your local install company and get a quote. Depending on how complex your install will be will depend on the final price.

      $15K installed -- I think the hardware itself is in the region of around $10K landed in Oz.

      The unit most likely only costs $6-7k going on the figures released last year of the U.S. cost to purchase, which was around $3-4K. The rest is most likely the installation cost. Either way if Origin is involved you are guaranteed to be ripped off.

    It's a lot bigger than I thought it would be

      Yeah, that was something I never seemed to see in earlier stories - the size. They showed the product, but there was never anything to compare it against to get a feel for the size. Mentally I pictured it as something similar to the dimensions of a monitor, knowing that was probably wrong. Now I know for certain.

      Doesnt change my opinion of it, and the size makes sense given how much energy it stores, but its good to see it installed and in a real world environment. All it means is that its not something you'll be sticking on the wall of the loungeroom.

    Good on Nick for getting on board early. Clearly with his family and their other power saving initiatives, it's more than about the monetary savings in the (very) long run but about their impact to the environment. WIthout these early adopters, who's lead would we follow otherwise?

    So these will be made in Vietnam in 5 years time for half the price. Installation costs will fall. Energy companies will be hiking up prices to compensate for falling demand due to solar. These things will be everwhere by 2020.

    Not sure I understand why people suggest 20-40 yrs to return investment. These times would only relate if using the feed in tariffs of 8c per kW however that is not the reality. The real cost savings is the 'opportunity cost' of not buying grid power at 30+cents/kW and not what you get by selling your electricity. For most households this equates to $2000+ annually that you don't pay for. I.E. Payback period on 15k$ of 7 yrs at current install cost. Like of batteries is approx 10 yrs therefore a return of investment of 30% ( 3 yrs after payback). This $6k approx return will pay for replacement of batteries at 10 Y'r end while other infrastructure, panels etc. Will still have 15yrs of life ( perhaps not so the inverter). This therefore makes the system cost neutral with 'opportunity cost' savings (real) over long sustainable period with scope to add newer technology advances at each stage.

      You know I've been thinking that same thing. I have many articles where they quote 20+ years to recoup your investment. Even if at best you cut your bills in half and most families if they do it right can do better that than, it's still not going to take that long to recoup your investment. Anyway glad someone else was thinking the same thing. Regardless it's a new era being ushered in where people are becoming more aware of the resources they use and managing them more efficiently. How can that be a bad thing.

        I'm building a new house next year... another $15k on a $650K mortgage is nothing for reduced quarterly bills.
        But I'm more interested in having proper battery backup for a fully automated house and security system. And good integration with my eventual electric car purchase 5-10 years down the track.

        It may take 20 years to pay off... but I'm building a house for 30+ years and future proofing is pretty important to me.

        I'm not 100% sold yet but I'm sure as hell going to investigate it properly.

      If the energy to charge the battery is costed at $0/kWh, and the peak tarrif is $0.30/kWh, then the most that could be saved using the Powerwall is 6.4kWh*$0.30 = $1.92/day or $700/year.

      Battery+solar = $15 to $16K, costing the battery and inverter at $10,000. At the above rate, payback would be >14years, but only if 6.4kWh are stored and used for each and every day for 14 years. The battery's capacity will decline to be 60% at 10 years, so reducing savings. The battery is inefficent, at 92.5%, so more loss of potential income. Stored energy could be sold via FiT, so that is lost too.
      The error made so often, is to include the remaining energy provided by solar, to levelise the cost of the battery. Remove the battery, buy solar only at $6,000, and payback time will be greatly reduced, even if 6.4kWh are paid for at $.30/kwhr.

      The payback time of the battery encourages consumption, so that the projected payback period is as short as possible. The battery is not environmentally friendly, because it attempts to deal with the peak energy problem by promoting consumption, rather than reducing it.
      Better to spend money on insulation or other means of reducing consumption, so that less coal needs to be burned in the first place.

      BTW, the money you 'save' using the battery, is payment that you would have paid to the electricity supplier, but instead goes to Tesla or any other battery manufacturer, until you have served your sentence. Using your solar energy, your cash, Telsa and Co, get paid upfront, while you gamble that you won't lose. Of course... Tesla resellers are 'very excited' by the prospect of saving you money, while they take it away.

    They cost $$$$$$$$$ and it will take years to recoup $$$$$$$ . I'll get one when or if they get cheaper.

    Last edited 30/01/16 2:33 pm

    I love this guy, huge house, aircon, 2 kids, probably at least 1 car, heated pool, no doubt huge TV, xbox etc, totally profligate western middle class lifestyle and they think the world is better place because their carbon footprint has reduced 0.5 poofteenths of a bees dick, so the world is now safe.

      Cue the Mission Accomplished banner

      Yeah lets all live in tents and wash our clothes in the river. Get off your high horse.

    "..I on the other hand know how to build billion population cities... "
    I assume this is satire.

      It was said in a comment on the internet, therefore it must be true

    Shame this company failed their first install in North Sydney.

    Isint there something to be said for economies of scale ... sure its expensive at the start , but once the tech is being mass produced we'll be buying cheap and still get the benifets on not paying ever rising power bills ?.. Isn't all new Tech expensive, never stops early adopters, and then everyone follows along as if we always wanted it..

    Australia has a lot at stake and having the power storage unit from Tesla available to them is going to be a game changer for or fight for more sustainable living options.

Join the discussion!

Trending Stories Right Now