AGL’s battery storage launch

In May 2015, AGL Energy Limited (AGL) announced it was launching a battery storage device into the Australian market, making it the first energy retailer to do so. With interest in the new Tesla Powerwall battery running hot, it’s good timing. Although as a sidenote, Lifehacker has done the back of envelope calculations on the economics of Tesla’s Powerwall and concluded that it probably won’t stack up at expected prices.

That doesn’t mean that a battery isn’t a good idea though – particularly for working household that aren’t home much during the day. So AGL’s offering is sure to attract a fair bit of interest. We caught up with AGL’s Energy Storage Lead, Ed Lynch-Bell, to find out who might be suited to AGL’s Power Advantage proposition.

Q: How long has AGL’s Power Advantage been in development?

A: We’ve been working on this and in discussions with potential manufacturers for 12 months.

Q: How are the energy needs of your consumers changing? Is it a rate of change that is speeding up?

The changing energy landscape is largely being driven by an increasingly energy conscious consumer who is looking for greater choice, flexibility and control of their energy usage at the lowest cost possible.  To meet changing consumer needs, AGL is evolving its business model with a focus on emerging energy technologies such as battery storage and rooftop solar, being the first major Australian energy retailer to offer a solar system for zero upfront cost and a new battery storage proposition.

Consumers are increasingly wanting to control their costs and become more energy independent as AGL is there to help them do that.

Q: Households will be able to store 6kWh of solar energy – can you translate into household use?

A: Household energy use ranges from 5 to 25 kilowatt hour (kWh) a day, depending on family size, lifestyle, season and region.  A “typical” family might use around 10-12 kWh in a day, with most of that later in the day.  So a 7.2kWh capacity battery won’t meet their entire daily needs, but with careful management of solar and battery, they can meet a lot of their needs. In an emergency, you can reduce your usage to preserve the battery. For example, a typical 400-500 litre fridge/freezer would use 1 kWh in a day.

Q: You also comment that it could be used in a home without solar PV – in what way could it be used?

A: A customer could use a battery as back-up in case of a power outage, or to ensure the quality of power.  Also, if the customer has a “time of use” tariff, which means different rates at different times of day, then they could store energy at the cheaper rate for use during higher priced times of day.

AGL has plans to develop a suite of products to cater to a range of home and business sizes and types. Larger battery sizes will be available later this year.

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