We’ve recently upgraded how SmartShift works. This is to address some of the battery control issues that some of our Tesla Powerwall customers experienced late last year.
We’re confident that these updates will result in better billing outcomes for Amber Tesla customers over time - so much so that we will be rolling out these changes to all of our Amber for Batteries customers moving forward, regardless of battery type.
Why are we making these changes now?
Towards the end of last year, we started hitting external limits on how many commands we could send to our customers’ Tesla Powerwalls in a given period (commands to charge or discharge in response to wholesale prices).
This happened because the amount of battery commands we were sending to our hardware partners (e.g. Tesla) had grown significantly, in line with the number of customers we were supporting. However, the amount of commands our partners’ APIs could process in a given timeframe remained constant. This ceiling was one we knew we would confront at some point in the Amber journey but it arrived sooner than expected due to rapid growth in our customer base last year.
As a result, some batteries missed opportunities to export during price spikes (you can read our original update on this here).
In order to ensure batteries get the best results over time when interacting with the grid, we’ve taken a few steps to change how we send commands to your battery:
- Spreading out battery commands: We will begin spreading out commands so we never send more commands to your battery at any given time than is allowed by our partners. This means all battery commands sent by SmartShift will get delivered. This is in contrast to the current approach, when some commands might time out before they can be executed.
- Scheduling battery commands: Previously, if a 30 minute battery discharge was required, SmartShift would send a series of six, five minute commands. This occurred even if the new command is the same as the last. The new system sends one 30 minute command in this instance. This would mean that even if the start of the command is delayed, you’ll still catch a majority of the event.
- Grouping battery commands during price spikes: Being rewarded for supporting the grid during a price spike is one of the main advantages of being with Amber, so being able to dispatch the power from your battery quickly at these times is really important. To make sure we minimise any delays in exporting during these times, we will implement a special group control mode for Tesla batteries. In cases where there’s a price spike (feed-in tariffs over $3/kWh), we will send one 5 minute group command at the beginning of the price spike to all devices in a given state. This will allow customers to get the most out of high export prices while individual commands are queued up.
When will these changes come into effect?
These updates have now been rolled out for existing Tesla battery customers with Amber.
There are a couple of limitations to the new approach, however as mentioned, we’re confident that these updates will result in better billing outcomes for Amber Tesla customers over time.
- Currently Amber customers with SmartShift disabled will also see their batteries discharged for around 5 minutes during prices spikes. This will also the case for customers who may have manual control commands in place when the group battery command is sent. We are working with Tesla to try to change this at present so we can exclude the limited number of customers who would be affected in these circumstances.
- In addition, as we spread out battery commands, there may be times when certain commands are slightly delayed (up to five minutes), so we do suggest that if you see times when you think your battery should be taking an action but it isn’t, it may be worth waiting for five minutes.
Onboarding new Teslas
As you may know, while this scaling issue was being resolved we paused onboarding of Tesla Powerwalls into SmartShift. With this solution to controlling larger volumes of Tesla Powerwalls now determined, we will be re-opening SmartShift onboarding for customers with Tesla batteries in February.
We’ll first onboard existing Amber customers who have already signed up to Amber as their energy retailer but have yet to be enrolled in SmartShift, such as those in Ausgrid.
We’ll then move to get those on our waitlist signed up to Amber and onboarded into SmartShift. And after this, we’ll be accepting onboarding of new customers.