Alpha-ESS ramps up battery production in South Australia and partners in new VPP

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One of the pioneer manufacturers in the energy storage market in South Australia (SA), Alpha-ESS has ramped up production this week, opening its new assembly facility at Lonsdale, in Adelaide’s south. Alongside sonnen and Eguana Technologies, Alpha-ESS made a commitment last year to manufacture battery systems locally as part of the SA Government’s Home Battery Scheme.

With their first production line installed and operating at Lonsdale, Alpha-ESS will increase their production of batteries to roughly 500 systems per month for the rest of the year, ramping up to 1,000 systems per month next year.

Alpha-ESS set up shop in Australia in 2015 and committed to assembling its batteries in SA in November. The company’s initial plan was to manufacture battery storage systems in partnership with disability service provider Minda Incorporated, and later move to a dedicated facility.

“Minda Commercial Enterprises will also handle recycling of packaging as well as electronics and batteries at end of life and we will use Minda Commercial Enterprises’ extensive warehousing, logistics and dispatch services,”  Alpha-ESS Managing Director Dong Lin said at the time.

Minister for Energy and Mining Dan van Holst Pellekaan welcomed the news that Alpha-ESS have transitioned to a permanent facility in SA. “We are pleased Alpha-ESS is expanding its production outfit, providing a boost for local jobs and industries,” the minister said.

The manufacturer’s original plan was to assemble more than 8,000 of their SMILE 5 batteries per year by 2020. But, under the new plans for up to 1,000 systems per month next year, the annual output could even reach 12,000 systems. By comparison, sonnen’s Elizabeth assembly plant aims to produce 10,000 batteries a year.

“We are now ready to bring our investment and operation to the next level, to boost the energy transition in South Australia,” Lin said.

Alpha-ESS currently has more than 20,000 residential and commercial systems running in more than 40 countries globally. Since starting production in Australia, 5,000 plus systems have been installed. As a result of production increases, Alpha-ESS intend to employ between 80 to 100 people over the next six to 12 months.

Newcomer to SA’s VPP pool

Alpha-ESS batteries will form part of a new virtual power plant (VPP) launched into the market this week by solar installer ShineHub and energy retailer Powershop. The new VPP offers savings of up to $7,000 on the cost of an Alpha-ESS battery using the subsidy of up to $6,000 available from the Home Battery Scheme and a further $1,000 discount.

South Australians can join the ShineHub VPP if they have an existing Alpha-ESS battery or by purchasing a new one, and will receive a payment from Powershop every time their battery is used to support the grid. ShineHub estimate that depending on the household and battery size, households can anticipate savings of $300 per year on their electricity bills, on top of the savings from installing solar panels and a battery.

“The South Australian Government’s Home Battery Scheme is putting more power in the hands of consumers with households being offered incentives – saving them thousands of dollars – in return for adding their battery into a virtual power plant,” said Minister van Holst Pellekaan.

The ShineHub VPP joins four other virtual power plant offerings currently available in the SA market from AGL, Simply Energy, Tesla and sonnen.

ShineHub Chief Executive Officer, Alex Georgiou, said ShineHub’s mission is to make solar and battery technology affordable and accessible for all South Australians, whilst supporting local jobs and communities. “We’ve managed to develop a scheme that utilises locally assembled batteries and makes it cheaper for households to adopt solar and storage and reduce their power bills,” he said.

Earlier this year, ShineHub launched a “lease-to-own“ plan exclusively for SA, which promises saving up to 42% on electricity costs. The company chose Hanwha Q Cells as the preferred module provider for their Community Solar Program, which is delivered in concert with the rebates offered under the SA Government’s Home Battery Scheme.