Aussie home battery owners take charge

Sarah here, GM of Special Projects at Amber. If you’ve read our co-founder Chris’s market updates or have been within half a mile of any TV, radio, or newspaper, you’ll know Australia’s energy market has been through a lot of ups and downs this winter.

In fact, wholesale electricity prices in Australia have reached their highest point ever and, while that’s been very challenging, it’s also been an incredibly rewarding opportunity for those Aussies lucky enough to own a solar battery connected to Amber SmartShift.

For those of you who don’t know, SmartShift is cutting edge technology Amber has developed over the past 3 years that automates when a solar battery charges and exports power to the grid to capitalise on the peaks and troughs of the wholesale energy market, all the while driving demand for cheap renewables.

This is very different to other Virtual Power Plant (VPP) providers where the battery is optimised for their bottom line and who reward customers only a fraction of the financial  benefit. Only SmartShift passes through the full upside of the wholesale market. It’s also the only VPP where you maintain full control of your battery setup with the ability to turn optimisations on and off at any time, and we will soon launch the ability to charge and discharge via your Amber SmartShift app.

Keep reading for more detail or if you’d like to sign up for SmartShift, follow this link; if you’re interested in buying a battery or have any questions for us, drop us a line at

Winning through winter with SmartShift

Winter can often be a time when bills are higher. Solar production is generally lower and consumption due to heating is higher than normal.

But through the craziness of this winter’s energy price surge, SmartShift has been busy helping solar battery owners  “sell high and charge low” to regularly earn our customers $40-$100 in a day.

For example, Figures 1 and 2 below show how a customer had a net negative bill, i.e. they were paid for their power, by having access to Amber’s wholesale prices, solar, a battery, and SmartShift. In fact, the customer earned ~$50 discharging during a single price spike on 10 June.

By way of comparison, their estimated cost without solar, a battery, and SmartShift over the last 30 days would have been $415, but the actual cost with solar and a battery and Smartshift over the last 30 days was -$25.64. That’s a net savings of almost $450, of which we estimate $144 was delivered from SmartShift technology alone. For those interested, this customer has a Tesla Powerwall battery (13.5 kWh).

Plot of customer’s energy consumption and exports

Plot of how Smartshift controlled their battery during the price spikes

We have many examples like those above, all benefiting from the amazing work the Amber team have been doing to improve the SmartShift algorithm through advances such as machine learning that can personalise savings for each household’s system. This is the future we are building for and are so excited to be delivering at this important moment in time for our country’s energy grid.

Amber customers turn into superheroes

You might remember things got so bad for our poor grid recently, the regulator had to step in and suspend the national energy market. During this chaotic time, our customers put on their best fossil fuel fighting capes and turned into Superheroes.

SmartShift’s Superhero mode worked as an “altruistic” preset with a bias towards stabilising the grid during a time when there was little economic upside in wholesale prices due to the market being suspended. It was an alternate mode to our normal SmartShift optimisation and was entirely opt-in.

We were delighted that 15 per cent of SmartShift customers switched on Superhero mode, allowing us to charge their solar batteries in the middle of the day (12-3pm) when there was excess solar, then discharge in the evening to displace expensive, carbon-intensive coal and gas (6-8pm).

Looking ahead, the big benefit of something like Superhero mode is it enables solar-charged home batteries to supply energy to the grid when demand is highest. And while we currently only have a few hundred customers in the SmartShift battery program, at scale SmartShift has the potential to help shift Australia to 100% renewables and to reduce prices for everyone.

Even today, with the 150,000 solar batteries in homes across Australia, if each one was automated to charge from the grid when prices were lowest and energy is greenest; and discharge when prices are high and energy is dirty - we could displace the fossil fuel power from 3 power plants. And, if all 3 million homes in Australia with solar also had a battery, we could offset more than half the coal and gas demand at peak times. These are heroic deeds Amber is super keen on making a reality in the months and years ahead.