A regional Queensland solar and storage trial launched by Ergon Energy back in 2011 has been extended for a second time by the state-owned network, to include new home energy management systems, battery storage, solar PV and a new tariff the state government says is being trialled for the first time.
Queensland energy minister Mark Bailey announced the extension of the Townsville trial on Tuesday, taking it into its third stage.
“This third stage is an opportunity to see if the combination of all four elements provides a win – a win for Ergon’s customers and its network,” Bailey said.
The core of the new trial, however, is the new retail product – called Tariff 14 – which has been designed to give customers better price signals to guide their energy consumption.
“Ergon believes this demand tariff together with the combination of the new batteries, solar and HEMS will give customers better price signals to take action and control their demand, avoid high cost impacts and therefore high bills,” Bailey said.
“Participants will be provided with information around energy use behaviours to minimise their peak demand on a regular basis.
“This combination of ongoing engagement, technology and behaviour changes should lower participants’ average demand for the month which could translate into lower power bills.”
New batteries have been installed in the participating nine homes including a Tesla Powerwall in one of them, along with new advanced home energy management systems (HEMS). The batteries and HEMS are connected to existing solar PV systems installed in previous trial stages.
“The new HEMS are more advanced and with the batteries, will provide more control and the ability to provide real time information for customers to make decisions to reduce their energy consumption,” Bailey said.
Barry Lowe, who originally signed up to the trial in 2011, is the lucky recipient of the Powerwall, and says the new set-up appears promising.
“Aesthetically the Powerwall is great,” Lowe said. “I hope it works well with the solar and the new HEMS which will give warnings or alerts as you get into pre-determined power consumption and you can use that information to change your behaviour and turn off appliances for set periods of time if you wish to.”
Elsewhere, Ergon Energy is also conducting a ‘Hybrid Energy’ solar and storage trial with 33 homes across Townsville, Cannonvale and Toowoomba, that is focused on using residential solar and storage as a virtual power plant, Bailey said.
“It is pleasing to see the wave of innovation in this space supported by the Palaszczuk Government’s commitment to increasing the update of renewable energy, including the success of Queensland-based innovation firms Redback Technologies and Tritium.”
Stage three of Ergon’s network trial will continue throughout 2017.