The trial, which sees the company partner with Genesis energy, will have New Zealand residences testing the Enphase Home Energy Solution, dubbed ‘the world’s first fully integrated home energy system’ that uses solar energy collection, storage and load management technologies to create ‘smart’ power management.
“Anyone can make a battery,” says Keera Single, Enphase Energy strategic account manager, “that’s all good and fine but without a platform that allows everything to work together and integrate – to be optimised and allow the owner to flick a switch and know that everything’s happening in the background – that's something that hasn't been done yet.”
Enphase Energy specialises in microinverter technology – the mechanism that converts DC power from solar panels into the AC power used in homes. Enphase include in that mechanism a sophisticated microprocessor that can optimise energy consumption and use, storage and management, optimising energy costs.
Image: Keera Single, Enphase Energy
“Energy management is where things start to get interesting,” says Single.
“We’re not just a battery that you plug in and hope it works. When you start mixing different brands, they have different languages – if they’re smart at all – so they won’t make the right decisions for you in the background.”
“We’ve got an API that allows our platform to work with an open development portal. In the future, not knowing what devices will want to be integrated, were allowing developers to include our platform into their products. As people’s energy use changes – as families grow for example, as they get a pool, or if you want to start charging an electric vehicle – we want all of that to work together in one seamless portal that can make all the right decisions”.
The company has also announced a partnership with Genesis Energy to conduct a residential energy storage beta trial focused on the Enphase AC Battery, a scalable, modular energy storage system that integrates with the system.
“A few Genesis customers will have our system installed to see how simply it works and how much those customers start saving. We can show them how they’re using power and when they’re using it. If power is cheaper overnight and their battery is empty, they can charge it overnight with the prices are reduced.”
Single says that though solar energy generation hasn’t yet taken off in New Zealand, the addition of intelligent storage suddenly makes solar-focused systems a viable option for New Zealand users.
“Without having tariffs that pay something really exciting when customers sell back to the grid during the day, there’s not so much of a financial incentive, but when you add storage into the mix, when you can do it at a price-competitive point and when it’s easy, then you improve the whole picture. In term of increasing the size of the solar market, storage is definitely going to increase uptake.”
“We’ve seen what’s happening in New Zealand reflect what’s happened in many other countries around the world. Prices have fallen so far over the last few years, it’s now in the affordability scale for most users.”
“New Zealanders get the idea of paying a little more for a more high quality product. When there’s national pride in the product as well – and there’s definitely Kiwi content here – that’s working exceptionally well. It’s becoming a more realistic idea that we’re about to have a very large solar and storage boom in the New Zealand market.”
Enphase will roll out components of the system starting in December 2015, with the Enphase AC Battery to be available in Q2 2016.