GCL Poly takes on Tesla with multi-coloured 5.6kWh battery storage

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GCL Poly, the world’s biggest provider of silicon and solar cells to the global solar industry, launched its new battery storage product into the Australian market on Wednesday, taking on Tesla, LG, Enphase and a host of other international and local competitors.

CEO Shu Hua said battery storage was an essential part of the energy revolution that had been caused by rooftop solar PV, and the company chose Australia for its global launch because of its high level of solar PV.

Shu told RenewEconomy in an interview that GCL Poly expected Australia to be among the top five markets in the world for energy storage.

The new lithium-ion product, dubbed E-KwBe, will come in two sizes – 2.5kWh and 5.6kWh – and like the Tesla Powerwall is made in a sleek design with numerous colour options.

The pricing is also interesting – offering its 2.5kWh for just $A1,499 and the 5.6kW product for $A2,999. This is the wholesale price offered by its newly acquired Australian subsidiary 1Stop Warehouse. It does not include inverters and installation, but appears to be half the price of its main competitors.

The other technical details include nominal output power of 1.5kW for the smaller unit and 3kW for the larger unit. The units weight 25kg and 45kg respectively, and are wall mounted.

The products have a warranty of 7 years but a declared “life cycle” of more than 10 years. It is rated at 2,000 cycles at “full draw” – which it says was comparable with rival products.

GCL Poly says it can undercut rivals because of its long history in battery storage (it supplies large-scale solar farms), its extensive internal R&D resources and its “buying power.”

Bill Allison, technical director of 1Stop Warehouse, said the product will be available in July. He said the retail price was hard to estimate, but the system would require only a hybrid inverter, “some programming”, and a few hours labour for installation.

GCL Poly is joining the likes of US companies Tesla and Enphase, German’s Sonnenbatterie and local firms Redflow and Ecoult to launch their first or their new generation battery storage products in Australia, which is expected to be the first mass-market for residential storage products in the world.

Shu told Bloomberg last month that it is targeting Australia and other companies because of anti-dumping regulations in the US and Europe. GCL System increased its solar sales five fold in 2015, reaching more than 2.5GW in 2015 compared with an output of 500MW in 2014.

Its purchase of One Stop Warehouse is also part of its plan to establish its own distributed PV integration unit and to push into the energy storage market. Hence the formal launch of its product in Australia, where high electricity prices and the rate of solar installations is making it the most attractive market.

By Giles Parkinson


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