Senec launches in Australia, aims to build an energy community

With record numbers of people attending the All Energy Australia event over the last two days in Melbourne, the excitement about the renewable sector has been palpable. However, there is no ignoring that there is considerable anxiety about the future of the large scale segment with no federal RET beyond 2020, and the polarised current discussion regarding the security of Australia’s electricity networks and grid stability.

Senec Australia is attending All Energy for the first time in 2017, and the company is hoping to foster notions of security and resilliance, through its residential and commercial storage systems.

“The initial feedback is that there is a lot of excitement about the battery because people can see that it is award winning and it is a high cycle battery,” said Senec Australia’s Ian Parkinson. “I guess the most important thing is the value that the battery offers – the high cycle rate.”

Senec reports that its residential battery can be cycled 12,000 times under a 10-year manufacturer warranty, meaning that it can be cycled twice per day, charged during off peak periods during the night, delivering additional value.

In a model not-dissimilar to the sonnen community, Senec also offers an energy sharing platform in its native Germany, and hopes to do the same in Australia.

“We are hoping to have cleared the regulatory hurdles to become established as a utility on the east coast of Australia by the middle of next year,” said Parkinson. “Having people being able to share their power with who they want, when they want, is a part of it,” said Parkinson. “Senec is all about giving people control of their power, helping them to feel secure. It is like having a roof over their head.”

Western Australia, which is Perth-based Senec Australia’s home state, will remain closed to the community model, as the residential market is not yet deregulated.

However, Parkinson said there still remain some innovative approaches the company is exploring that are applicable nationally.

“We are looking at offering the Senec batteries as a part of a renewable package, for new home buyers,” said Parkinson. “We want to help build new communities, new suburbs that have battery storage behind the meter. Suburbs can then be built with storage behind the mast, behind the meter, among their community.”

There is clearly a lot of interest in battery storage at this year’s All Energy event, with a large number of battery suppliers from Europe, the U.S. and Asia exhibiting. There have even been reports that with rising demand from the emobiltiy and stationary storage sectors globally, that battery cell supply is becoming increasingly tight.

Senec’s Parkinson attributed some of the public interest in battery storage down to the need to bolster electricity networks as renewable penetration rates continue to increase.

“This is one of the ways that we want to empower people to be a part of the solution,” said Parkinson. People realize that if they don’t start installing batteries in, then the renewable game will have to come to a halt. Senec can actually help support base load, because the battery can be charged a second time [each day] in off-peak periods.”

The Senec Home is available from 2.5 kWh up to 10 kWh, with the functionality that up to four Home units can be cascade connected, delivering up to 40 kWh of capacity. It is available in single of three-phase. The Business unit, which Senec targets to bring to the Australian market by mid 2018, is available with a capacity of 12 or 18 kWh in three or single phase, with the larger 24, 30 or 36 kWh unit available only in three-phase.