AllGrid Energy, an Indigenous-owned company has emerged as a hopeful minnow beside corporate giants poised to drive the expansion of Australia’s fledgling home solar industry. Solar ventilation
The Brisbane-based upstart looks forward to the looming entry of the global industry’s marquee player, Tesla, as a shot in the arm to the Australian market.
While orders for Tesla’s Powerwall have officially begun in Australia amid a reported spike in customer queries – driven by interest in the electric carmaker’s brand – AllGrid Energy is already delivering its system to customers in South Australia and Queensland.
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The company claims its 10 kilowatt-hour GridWatt system at $12,000 is up to 30% cheaper than the Powerwall.
The GridWatt is cheaper because it features older tubular lead acid gel batteries in an aluminium cabinet that must be installed outside a home, as opposed to Tesla’s smaller, indoors package based on lithium batteries.
But AllGrid’s marketing manager, Deborah Oberon, said the company hoped its “cost-effective” offering would encourage take-up, particularly in the remote Indigenous communities where its parent company operates.
The company’s chief executive and majority shareholder, Raymond Pratt, is a Darwin-based Indigenous man who parlayed his trade ticket as an electrician into founding the electrical and construction services outfit Dice Australia.
A key opportunity for AllGrid beckons in remote Indigenous communities which rely on costly and emissions-heavy diesel generators.
“Obviously as an Indigenous company working with Indigenous communities, it’s a really big area of traction for us,” Oberon said.
The end result of these “commercial scale” solar systems would be “energy wealth and energy autonomy” for those remote communities.
AllGrid has a number of feasibility studies under way for Indigenous communities both on and off the national power grid, Oberon says, with plans to train local Indigenous electricians to install those systems.
Tesla and AllGrid are among a broad field of players looking to capitalise on a promising market for solar batteries in Australia, where per capita take-up of rooftop solar panels leads the world.
2016 will be the year that storage energy systems really start to kick off in Australia
Energy storage systems give households with solar power the opportunity to further cut reliance on the nation’s largely coal-fired electricity grid, even during peak demand times when the sun has gone down.
AllGrid claims its storage systems, which are assembled at a factory in Brisbane’s south, can cut household grid power consumption by 75%.
Oberon said that although orders were “ticking along” thanks to the interest of early adopters, 2016 would be “the year that storage really starts to kick off in Australia”.
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