Queensland power provider launches country's first solar battery trial with U.S.-made systems

A government-owned energy company in Queensland, Australia — a country with one of the highest rates of household solar energy use in the world — launched a year-long trial Monday of two U.S.-made solar battery storage systems as part of an investigation into how the company can reward users less reliant on its grid system.

Energex installed a Tesla Powerwall and a system from California company Sunverge Energy at its Brisbane training facility in order to collect data that will help determine how best to integrate such systems into its current network, as well as what incentives it can offer less dependent energy consumers. The trial is the first of its kind in the country's history.

“The way our customers consume electricity has changed significantly with the emergence of solar PV and battery technology and we have changed with them,” Energex CEO Terry Effeney said Monday in a news release. “The future of energy usage in Queensland is about choice; providing customers with a choice as to how they consume their electricity and how much they rely on the network…. It means we can record real time data from the system and observe the usage habits, which is similar to the smart technology processes we currently use for air conditioners and hot water systems.”

When Queensland Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk flipped the switch on the program Monday, she also announced the induction of 22 Energex apprentices who will be trained to specialize in solar programs and grid integration.

“New technologies like solar battery storage will dominate the next phase of the solar energy industry, and with it a whole new opportunity for new jobs,” Palaszczuk said in the release. “These new recruits will gain first-hand experience with the latest technology as part of their training here …. The energy network will look very different 20 years from now than what it does today. Queensland is perfectly placed to take advantage and ensure we can make the most of those future job opportunities.”

Queensland’s federal government has said that it aims to maintain one-million residential solar energy systems generating an estimated 3,000 megawatts of photovoltaic capacity by 2020. Solar battery storage systems are expected to play a key role in achieving that goal, according to Energex.

“My Government is continuing talks with global players in the solar technology industry and we look forward to working with them further into the future,” Palaszczuk said.