Aboriginal-owned energy company one-upping Tesla

The PortaGrid system
The PortaGrid system

The renewable energy storage game is about to be disrupted, with Australian Aboriginal-owned company AllGrid Energy announcing the launch of WattGrid, a new 10kWh solar energy storage system it says is around 30 per cent cheaper than the Tesla Powerwall.

Customers also don’t have to wait until 2016. Spokeswoman for AllGrid, Deborah Oberon, said the company expected to be making its first deliveries in the next two to three months.

The $11,999 WattGrid unit comprises an aluminium cabinet containing tubular lead acid gel batteries, and a hybrid 5kW solar inverter with battery management system that has load share capability with the grid and uninterrupted power supply capability.

The unit is also accompanied by a software app, WattsHappening, that allows users to view real-time information and interface with the system.

Beta testing has shown the unit can help solar owners maintain an energy supply profile that can be matched to the demand profile, potentially rendering drawing grid power unnecessary.

The Queensland-based company is also releasing another product it has developed, the PortaGrid. This is an independent unit comprising solar panels, storage, UPS, inverter and outlets that is suitable for remote and off-grid locations, as well as emergency situations.

The units can be supplied with an inbuilt weather station that will automatically close up the panels in the event of a severe weather hazard such as a cyclone.

The AllGrid company is an alliance between two established firms, Consolidated Industrial Holdings, which operates across the energy efficiency, engineering design and technology sectors, and DICE Australia, an Aboriginal-owned and Aboriginal-operated company in the electrical contracting and general construction services sector.

DICE founder and director Raymond Pratt has taken up the role of chief executive of the new combined entity, which currently has 20 full-time staff across engineering, design, management, manufacturing, sales, administration and business development.

Staff numbers are due to increase in the very near future when assembly of the units commences, Ms Oberon said.

The products are being launched at Tandanya Aboriginal Cultural centre in Adelaide on Wednesday 2 September. Ms Oberon said Adelaide was chosen for the launch because of the council’s Sustainable City Incentive Scheme, which provides up to $5000 towards the cost in installing solar PV storage across the residential, business, education and community sectors. Funding for the program also has financial support from the South Australian government.

“We felt it was important to acknowledge the South Australian government and the City of Adelaide for such a forward-looking and innovative scheme,” Ms Oberon said.

The company is also hoping other state governments and councils will be encouraged to take up the idea of supporting the uptake of renewable energy storage.

The company’s core mission is based on the fundamental Aboriginal approach of stewardship of the earth and its resources. This means needing to shift out of high-emissions fossil-fuel derived energy.

Deborah Oberon

Deborah Oberon

“It is so important for everyone to shift to renewable energy,” Ms Oberon said.

All the intellectual property involved in the products is owned by the AllGrid business.

Currently the company has one manufacturing facility established in Brisbane where the various parts, some of them manufactured offshore to AllGrid’s specifications, will be assembled by a predominantly Indigenous workforce.

Ms Oberon said if demand in South Australia was great enough, the company would also look to establish a plant in Adelaide.

The PortaGrid product is already attracting interest, she said, with the company in discussions with National Parks about supplying the units for remote sites that currently rely on diesel generators.

“The applicability worldwide of the technology is just enormous,” Ms Oberon said, “particularly in developing countries.”

Talks are underway with a number of groups that are currently running leadership programs with Indigenous people in other nations and setting up training programs in renewable energy for the local peoples.

The company is also investing heavily in research and development.

Innovations currently in the pipeline include WattGrid12, a 12kW system battery storage system using saltwater batteries that will have up to 100 per cent longer life than lead acid batteries, and BioGrid, a biomass digester that uses food and household waste to generate a replacement for LPG gas and also produces compost.

Commercial-scale systems that can power an entire remote Aboriginal community and replace expensive and high-emissions diesel generators are also on the horizon.

“This would create energy wealth and energy autonomy for those remote Aboriginal communities,” Ms Oberon said.

The company has recently been accredited under the federal government’s Supply Nation scheme. This is an Indigenous Procurement Policy that came into effect on 1 July this year, which sets minimum benchmarks for procurement from Indigenous-owned suppliers and for indigenous employment and traineeships for all government contracts.

“We are very proud to keep our Indigenous profile front and centre and Supply Nation certification helps us to do this,” Ms Oberon said.

“It also creates the opportunity to consolidate our commitment to establishing Indigenous traineeships, community development initiatives, employment opportunities and Indigenous business opportunities.”

AllGrid has committed to directing a percentage of all company profits into creating and supporting training and employment programs for Indigenous Australian young people.

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Comments

54 Responses to “Aboriginal-owned energy company one-upping Tesla”

  • David Peterson says:

    I thought I saw last week this unit was $3500 did something change?

  • Marjon says:

    We are delighted to have a WattGrid 10kW Battery Unit installed. We do what we can to live sustainably and now having the batteries, we have further improved what we do. It is exciting to be the first in Adelaide, benefiting both from the AllGrid developments so far and the Adelaide City Council’s Sustainable City Incentive Scheme. It is interesting to learn how it works and understand the decisions required to make the set up work effectively in each situation.
    We hope that solar panels and batteries will be used all over Australia, and help to free us from the stranglehold of non-renewables. There are jobs in sustainable energy if there are people to buy into these options.
    This time we are in at the beginning of the next major step forward in solar use – that makes us feel good. Although it is only very early days for us personally we clearly see the benefits for our household and the more who take up the battery option the more we will see the benefits for the community.

    • Deborah says:

      Thanks Marjon! We are really happy to hear the system is working so well for you! We are looking forward to assisting more Australians to benefit from such simple affordable solutions.

  • Hi Deborah,

    great solution there are applications right now in Nepal for remote villages.
    I would also add a communication module to your power supply module as this is also needed in these villages for emergency, general communication & school/teaching applications.

    RE battery discussion, pretty sure Tesla would respond favourably to your project given the humanitarian benefits it offers to isolated communities.

    Pleased to see your selection of a container module for your power units. Conventional construction modules simply cannot match containers in terms of transportability, security & structural performance.

    We are focused on designing modular multipurpose containerised building solutions to assist our pacific island neighbours with practical structures that will endure repeated cyclone events. Your modules tick the power generation requirement and compliment the building system perfectly for these often remote locations.

    Wish you well and I`m confident that you will succeed.

    Regards
    Frank

    • Deborah says:

      Hi Frank

      Thanks for the feedback! We are actually building communication modules into our power supply systems for the reasons you mention. We are soon to kick off a crowd funding campaign to donate a system to a remote Indigenous community. If the campaign is successful it is something we will continue to do both in Australia and for communities around the planet. If you would like to get in touch with me please contact me on marketing@allgrid.energy. Thanks!

  • Joel Burbach says:

    Would love to help develop this in the US and Costa Rica. Let me know how this is possible? Joel

  • William Painter says:

    This is great news, if you are looking to distribute this product to Canada, we are interested

  • Richard Murias says:

    Congratulations guys. Best of luck and success with the venture. It is what we all have been waiting for. The nurds in our Government are deaf to the din of the population screaming for change from our fossil fuel dependant energy production. As always their inertia is their greatest hurdle. Their bed fellows, the coal industry are also the millstone they wear around their necks. The weight of change has weighed them down and committed them onto a track to oblivion.
    Congratulations again for pushing forward towards this earth saving initiative.
    Richard

  • Nicolas Durr says:

    Dear Deborah,
    These are fantastic news, you can be sure we will spread the news with our Australian team towards our customers.
    What is your view on getting your solutions on the European market, we would be thrilled helping you getting implanted in this part of the world.
    Best,
    Nicolas Durr

  • Sandra Abbott says:

    Is there anyone outside of Australia offering this system? I live in Newfoundland and Labrador off the east coast of Canada.

  • Anastasia Henare says:

    Kia ora,
    Awesome news from Nga tangata whenua o Ahitereiria. Well done. I am Te Mahurehure, Te Uriroroi and Ngapuhi Nui Tonu o Aotearoa. Your product would be a godsend to Te Tai Tokerau (Northland) people, and those living in isolated areas throughout the country especially tangata whenua (Maori). Like Maanu I would be interested in presenting your product to my hapu and iwi before the greedies (Pakeha, Government and business) get onto it and put an ungodly price tag on it. Te Tai Tokerau is one of 3 low socio economic regions in NZ, poor roads, poor housing, poor welfare, poor health care, high prices. Your product would be so beneficial for such areas and the savings and job opportunities would be such a big help to the poorer communities. I would be proud to be part of a group or delegation that could come and see your product in action. Again well done and go hard.

    • Deborah says:

      Kia Ora Anastasia

      My thanks for your acknowledgement. We are very keen to make links with Indigenous groups around the planet. We have also been contacted by the Maori Council and we are very keen to support Maori initiatives to energy independence. Please keep in touch through our web site or email me at marketing@allgrid.energy. Deborah

  • Tyrone says:

    This new innovation could really help Aboriginal communities here in Canada who, #1 could utilize renewable energy while costs due to new “smart-meters” continue to rise for traditional energy, and #2 are always looking for new ways to sustain our communities economically. I would be interested to see what partnerships could be established.

  • Ron Barton says:

    i a m in the market for an off grid system 75K’s south of Darwin please respond to my email

  • scott says:

    Very pleased to see this, I too am building soon and want to be off grid. I would be happy to pay more for this system than Tesla as it comes from indigenous people ????

  • D says:

    Hey that looks fantastic! My question is how long are the lead acid gel batteries expected to last and why didn’t you use lithium-ion?

    • Hi D

      We aren’t conviced that lithium-ion is the way to go. Gel acid is a proven technology that has been around for 100 years. Our batteries will last 8-10 years depending on dischage. Full replacement cost today is $1,500 – in 8-10 years we expect it will be far less than this. However in 8-10 years other technologies will have superseeded both gel acid and lithium and your cabinet will take the new alternatives. Using Gel acid means we can provide cost effective storage today.

      Visit us at http://www.allgrid.energy for more information.

  • Andy says:

    Id love to buy in… I have many Farmers that will buy in too …Happy to help get the word out and sell for you too …Before Abbott Buggers the place with more coal mines.

  • Leroy Brown says:

    A smack in the face to those who like to stereotype and tar us all with same brush as, drunks living off welfare…
    What’s this then sl*t?

  • Glen says:

    This is very cool, but a long way from bettering Tesla, and in fact discredits this story making such a silly statement. I work on large solar power stations with energy storage for asian markets, but being Australian I would love to see this sort of small home storage take off, owned by aboriginal people. Too often the solar systems in remote communities through WA and NT are designed by Sydney consulting firms, and the local people have no connection to or care for the systems.

  • Allanah Moore says:

    Absolutely Awesome to read and know that things are happening and are desperately needed to sustain this beautiful country and it’s future. Congratulations especially to the ingenuity at Allgrid Energy. Proud of your efforts!

  • Linda Cooper says:

    How exciting! We hope to be living off grid in the next 18 months and I would be absolutely thrilled to use this innovation, especially as it gives back to our indigenous Australians. Hope with all my heart that it takes off in a big way, here and overseas. Congratulations.

  • Dave says:

    I see there are people wanting to have one,I hope this is for Aboriginal People with proof of Aboriginality as we have a lot of wanna-bees out there, our Aboriginal Medical Services are open to the general public ( Black & white )can we have something just for the Aboriginal People, white man is so far advanced to our People, taken our land now they want to jump on the boat and take the Solar Power made for our down and out Aboriginal Black,s PISS EM OFF.

  • Andres Wiche says:

    ¡Congratulations! So well done at every level and angle!

  • Carol Tranter says:

    Fabulous news, just what Australia needs and our original owners are leading the way. I wish you all the best.

  • Hi Deborah Oberon ,,,
    I am very proud of you,,,
    Energy is a very important project for us and to the generations submitted in this publication.
    I am the oldest you encouragement. And best wishes for your success,
    They hope to provide me with e-mails from across the whole of your activity in this activity.
    I hope to have good cooperation between us in order to provide us with your product,
    Thank you and I wish you success.
    Eng : jamal Al yousef
    IRBID – JORDAN

  • Cristel says:

    This is amazing! I have had half a dozen conversations in the last few months about going off grid and how to assist vulnerable communities to become self-sufficient and do so too. I’ll keep saving my pennies to get some of this incredible gear myself, but i’m so excited to be able to tell the non-believers that it’s already happening! Go you legends!

  • Rod Hagen says:

    Great stuff! The future gets even closer, despite our Government’s absurd coal fixation. Pity the supposed “PM for Aboriginal Australia” gets all that’s left of his funding from the coal floggers, but it is pretty clear that won’t last long. Ventures like this might even help make sure Aus doesn’t become the pariah nation of the world on energy at least!

  • Eileen Torres says:

    Hello

    Firstly congratulations on a innovative design.
    I have worked in Sovereign Communities for the past 25 years, and this is inspiring to say the least.

    But also I a live in Broome on a Sovereign town Reserve, and am building at present and want to be off the grid. I would like to know if we can get the system and can it sent over to this part of the world.With the threat of Community closures with this Government, I ant to be able to live off the grid.

    Would also like to know what incentives available for Town Reserves.
    If i can call someone and discuss that would be fantastic.

    Many thanks
    Eileen Torres
    +61 466 726 177
    eptorres@iinet.net.au

  • Garry Hudson says:

    Love what I just read and love even more that it is real. Using technology to better our society, how good is that.

    What I love even more is the use of known technology sub system to deliver a real outcome. I really like the concept that sub systems can easily be swapped out as new technology becomes available. The software that brings it all together is a masterstroke.Wonderful modular design and great thinking.

  • It’s always great to see Australian’s kicking goals in the international arena, but it’s doubly great when it’s our indigenous brothers and sisters showing the world how it’s done! How do I get involved?

  • Hi guys,
    I am Murrumbateman, NSW, and I would love to set up my existing 25 panels with your gear so I could be less on the grid!
    Is it possible for me in NSW?
    Nicolette

  • Jill Wilson says:

    Great, following with interest! Having lived in remote Aboriginal communities and looking to build off grid in next 18 months, would be fantastic to use Australian gear.

  • Martin says:

    You are demonstrating how the rest of Australia should be treating solar power well done and thanks for your inspiration
    A ray of sunshine on a cloudy economic situation

  • Mike says:

    This is inspiring. All power to you.

  • Marlon Kobacker says:

    This is fantastic news! What a win for Indigenous Australians.

    • C Maanu PAUL says:

      34 Harbour Rd, OHOPE NZ
      P O Box 3052
      Congratulations on your initiative and enterprise
      I am Chairman of the NZ Maori Council (NGO) which has a statutory duty to “protect all Maori”
      WE are interested in seeking your exporting to us in NZ your solar systems as we have isolated communities and islands that rely on expensive diesel generators
      Looking forward to being kept in the loop about your developments.
      Best of luck C Maanu PAUL
      Chairman
      NZ Mzori Council

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