Making the most of wholesale when you have a battery

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If you're like most battery owners, you tend to only use power from the grid late at night or early in the morning when the sun is not shining 🌞 

Generally, your battery will fill up with solar energy while the sun is shining. This is stored in the battery and can be consumed by your household during peak times, when prices tend to be higher due to low renewables and high demand on the grid.

Get more benefit from your battery with Amber's optimisation

If your household doesn't need to consume all the energy in your battery, Amber for Batteries allows you to export excess energy to the grid and earn a higher feed-in rate at peak times when there's extra demand on the grid. 

Similarly, if the sun isn't generating enough solar energy to fill your battery you may be able to charge from the grid when wholesale prices are low or negative to consume or sell later in the day. 

To make the most of Amber with a battery, we recommend enrolling your battery in Amber for Batteries (if it’s compatible). Here's how to sign up, if you haven't already

Check out this video for an overview of how it works:

With Amber for Batteries, your battery will be optimised in line with wholesale prices in the energy market so that you charge, discharge and consume your battery at times that maximise the financial impact. 

Amber’s SmartShift technology optimises your battery in line with three variables, which it learns over time:

  • Your typical solar generation 
  • Your typical energy usage in your home
  • The wholesale price forecast

Every 5 minutes, it comes up with an updated plan for your battery, which you can see in the Amber app. 

Your battery will now not only be useful for covering your usage during peak times - when wholesale prices can rise - but it will also look for opportunities to make you some extra income from your excess energy, by selling energy to the grid when it is most needed. This is also when feed-in tariffs are usually higher. 

Once you’re enrolled, you’ll receive a separate series of emails about the features within SmartShift which you’ll be able to make the most of - including manual controls that give you a remote control for your battery. 

To give a you taster of what to expect, check out this Amber app walkthrough for battery owners from our resident solar, battery, EV + Amber user, Tim Barson: 

Once optimised, there are a few ways you can make the most of wholesale with Amber. 

Tips on making the most of wholesale 

  • Let SmartShift do its thing. While there may be times in the first month or so of enrolment when it may do counterintuitive things, the algorithm will learn your habits over time and get smarter after around a month. This means you can sit back and relax, knowing your battery is working smarter for you. 
  • Continue to shift as much of your energy usage to cheaper, greener times as you can. This mean:
    • Moving any heavy usage appliances to switch on during the middle of the day to use up a lot of your solar - this is free and reduces room for exporting excess solar when the wholesale FiT is low. You may want to try to automate certain devices e.g. pool pumps to come on during the solar window, or shift your hot water heater from controlled load to mains (if you're on controlled load currently) to suck up some of that cheap solar. 
    • Move unavoidable evening loads as late as possible:  Try to shift flexible evening/night load (sprinklers, water pumps, irrigation) as late as possible in the night as less consumption during peak time helps the battery sell more. E.g. An irrigation system starting at 8pm could start at midnight, giving you more room to export during the evening peak and an opportunity to run that system off cheaper night time wholesale rates. 
  • Reduce energy demand during price spikes. This gives you more battery capacity to export into the spike, so you can make the most of peak feed-in tariffs. Depending on how much you have to export, and which network you are in, you can end up in credit on your bill. These credits can be cashed out at any time, or used towards future bills. Learn more about how our SmartShift battery customers exported into price spikes during the recent Victorian energy outage
  • If your solar is compatible with curtailment with Amber and you’re not currently signed up for this, let us know and we can ensure your system is configured correctly. (See page 9 of this guide for a list of currently compatible inverters). This will stop you from exporting excess solar during times when feed-in tariffs can turn negative (when there’s an over-abundance of solar in the grid and not enough people using it) and will help to boost your returns. If you have a Fronius, Huawei or SMA inverter, we recommend buying a curtailment device from Village Energy $119 (25% off) with the code LINKZBAMBER.
  • Chat to us about which tariff works best for your household - not all are created equal. See more info on this below. 

Innovative tariffs

Making the most of wholesale energy may also include looking into whether you can benefit from any of the innovative tariff options available.

Ausgrid's two-way tariff runs until July 2024 and has proven highly lucrative for many battery owners in that network, as it offers a bonus feed in tariff of 26.6c/kWh on top of the wholesale price for exports during certain periods. 

Outside of Ausgrid, those in the Essential network - which covers a large part of NSW and SE QLD - can benefit from the Sun Soaker trial tariff. This tariff, which also runs until July 2024, rewards you with a bonus 13.5c/kWh FiT (incl. GST) on top of Amber’s wholesale feed-in rate for exporting during peak times (Essential Energy defines peak time as between 5-8 PM). 

SA Power Networks (SAPN) has also introduced its own two-way tariff to incentivise energy behaviours that are good for the grid and the environment. 

Endeavour Energy has followed suit, with a tariff that offers a bonus FiT paid out for exports during the peak period, on top of the variable wholesale rate on offer from Amber. Endeavour's peak window is 4pm-8pm daily. 

We recommend reading the explainers linked above to check if these tariffs are right for you. If you would like to be switched over to one, get in touch and our team can arrange the switch for you with your network. 

Evergen optimisation

If your battery is not compatible with SmartShift, you can still have a chance to get optimised thanks to our partner, Evergen. 

Amber and Evergen are proud partners in enabling and accelerating the transition to renewables. Evergen’s Intelligent Control technology was developed in partnership with the CSIRO. The algorithm was developed specifically to optimise and automate home batteries in line with Amber’s wholesale energy plan. Evergen’s main focus is optimising batteries and other renewable assets, and this now includes many thousands of homes, businesses, shopping centres and solar farms.

You can sign up to Evergen's Intelligent Control here. Here's list of the batteries that are compatible with Evergen:

- Energizer

- Eveready

- Huawei

- Redback

- Solax

- SAJ

Home automation

If your battery is not compatible with either SmartShift or Evergen’s optimisation, home automation is an option that you may want to explore. Amber has a lot of battery owner customers who set up their own automations in order to make the most of wholesale with their energy systems. To learn more, we recommend reaching out on the Amber Home Assistant Users Group on Facebook, where there are a ton of very enthusiastic home automation users who have tips to get this up and running. (Note, this is an unofficial group and is not moderated by Amber). 

Lastly, if none of these options work for you, it’s worth noting that we do find that solar and battery customers in general tend to do better with Amber’s wholesale pricing, regardless of automation. 

This is because having a battery to store your solar means that you have the ability to primarily draw energy from the grid at off-peak times, such as early morning or later evening. 

This tends to be when wholesale rates are lower than retail usage rates. As a result, solar and battery owners tend to benefit from a lower average usage rate than they would typically get with a retail energy plan. 

At times when wholesale prices rise, for example between 6pm-8pm when energy demand peaks, you can rely on your stored battery energy. 

 

 

 

 



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