The Queensland Government-owned power company Energex has started a trial of Tesla's Powerwall energy storage battery, commencing with the installation of the first system in the country. The trial will go for the next year, in which time the government will look at options for financial incentives for customers cutting use of grid electricity.
Energex will be collecting data throughout the 12 month trial, which is planned to expand to include installations of systems in the homes of employees and consumers.
CE of Energex Terry Effeney said the trial would give energy companies vital information about the effect of solar batteries on peak demand, allowing them to plan for infrastructure or the reduction of power generation.
Despite having some of the highest rates of household solar panel systems in the world, installation rates have taken in a hit in the past few years to due to a reduction (in some cases, abolition) of feed-in tariffs and incentives for consumers feeding electricity back into the grid.
This meant the payback periods for installations were driven up, resulting in the initial investment in solar being far less attractive.
The advantage of the Powerwall is the amount of power it can store. You're looking at around 7 non-daylight hours worth of energy that you won't be using from the grid.
We crunched the numbers on how long the pay-back period would be for a range of systems, including battery only (from $9,500) for those with an existing system, and full installation including a solar array (from $14,000 for a 4kw system).
While the payback period is nowhere near the heyday of high feed in tariffs, the storage capability of the Powerwall is still expected to give a boost to the solar industry.
"This is the first step. It is going to change the way Queensland families will obtain their electricity into the future," says Queensland premier Annastacia Palaszczuk.
"Queensland now has got one of the highest solar [photo voltaic] take-up rates in the world, higher than Hawaii, higher than Germany, higher than California and leading the nation," says Energy minister, Mark Bailey.
"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."