Queensland energy company Locality Planning Holding (LPE) has partnered with Melbourne innovator Allume Energy to introduce its SolShare technology and bring the benefits of solar energy to apartment blocks.
Despite the great popularity of rooftop solar roofs in Australia, apartment blocks in the past have failed due to limited homes with access to rooftop space and the difficulty of sharing usage and spreading the cost across multiple homes.
Victoria's Allume recently ramped up production of its SolShare technology, which solves the problem by diverting energy to each resident's meter, opening a market the company valued at $ 3.75 billion in Australia alone.
The publicly traded Sunshine Coast company LPE with around 70 employees has now signed with Allume to introduce the technology in Queensland and New South Wales, with early test installations producing positive results so far.
Damien Glanville, LPE CEO, said his company discovered Allume's technology after responding to customer demands for better sustainable energy solutions for their apartment blocks.
“Installing a single solar system for every apartment, which we did, is too difficult and too messy. You have too much equipment that you normally don't have the space for, ”Glanville said.
“So we had a problem and we just found a solution and worked with Allume for a long time to bring their product to market so we could use it.”
The customers of the new community system are neither billed for the installation nor the hardware in advance, but rather LPE is paid for the solar energy they consume at a much cheaper price than when they are drawn from the grid.
Glanville said customers are billed at around 12-13 cents per kilowatt hour, compared to a network price of around 19-22 cents in NSW.
After an agreed period of around 15 years, during which Allume can amortize its costs, the building's community of owners will take control of the system.
“We know that a) the shared roof and b) the cost and c) the maintenance and billing of the facility to amortize the cost is a major barrier for homes that use more sustainable energy sources,” said Glanville. “So we all overcome their barriers.”
As a standard energy trader, LPE also supplies customers with electricity from the grid during the hours when the solar system is not generating electricity, for example at night.
In Glanville's view, selling excess electricity into the grid was neither economical nor desirable. Instead, the company looked for batteries or even hot water heaters to store the electricity generated during the day when there was less demand.
“We're only there to support these customers with clean renewable energy, we're not there to try to turn them into a virtual power plant where we only trade at spot prices.”
LPE has been a utility company in South East Queensland and small parts of New South Wales for six years, serving 40,000 customers primarily in the housing market.
“We do homes and businesses too, but our primary focus for the past five years has been bringing innovation and technology to this home environment,” said Glanville.
“We worked with network providers, particularly in Queensland, for two years to get this product approved for use, and we finally got it through the final hurdles four weeks ago with Energy Queensland.”
As part of the testing process, the company installed four systems that use an average of 70 percent of the solar energy generated. Glanville said the company initially plans to deploy up to 360 SolShare units per year.