Wholesaler One Stop Warehouse has had a very busy year filling demand for parent company GCL’s E-KwBe storage solution.
As homeowners with solar systems realise the savings to be had by storing some of that glorious daylight energy for use later in the day or evening, installers are gearing up for a busy few years of bolting batteries to garage walls.
One Australian wholesaler saw the trend coming and is taking advantage of its direct route to a major international manufacturer of battery systems and solar modules.
One Stop Warehouse is majority owned by GCL System Integration, a Hong Kong-listed solar giant with market capitalisation about $US20 billion and a 25-year history in the business.
GCL, via its ownership of One Stop Warehouse, is a relative newcomer to the local market. It began distributing panels to Australia at the start of 2016 but has a longer history in the panel business, however, initially supplying polysilicon wafers for Bloomberg Tier 1 manufacturers until it decided to manufacture and distribute its own panels.
Within two years of distributing its own solar panels GCL has taken second place on Bloomberg’s Tier 1 solar manufacturers list.
Early this year GCL decided to extend to overseas and its first stop is Australia and New Zealand, says One Stop Warehouse managing director Anson Zhang. “They see Australia is a mature market … that will not be affected much by government policy in the next 10 to 15 years.”
In the first 10 months of 2016 the company shipped about 56MW of solar panels to Australia alone.
GCL focused on Australia for its launch of the E-KwBe storage system in May.
On day one it took orders for 823 units, and things have been busy ever since.
“Everyone likes the streamlined design and colour range,” says Zhang, and it helps that the 5.6kWh battery is priced at less than $3,000. “That’s why on the first day we took orders for 823 units.”
The GCL lithium-ion E-Kwbe batteries use Panasonic cells and are half the weight of competitors, Zhang says. They can be linked to provide up to 45kW/h of storage and a single unit has an instant delivery capability of up to 5.0kW.
The wall-mounted battery comes in 2.5kW/h or 5.6kW/h versions, weighing 25kg and 45kg respectively, and up to eight units can work in unison. The E-Kwbe unit comes with a seven-year warranty.
But that sudden surge in demand outstripped supply, and the wholesaler is waiting on backorders. By early November, 96 units had been installed. Zhang expects inventory to reach 1,000 units by the end of the year.
The company offers a day of installer training at its offices, in Perth, Melbourne, Adelaide, Brisbane and Sydney.
Next year GCL plans to launch a different battery series suitable for commercial use, Zhang told EcoGeneration, speaking from the company’s Brisbane headquarters. On the horizon are much larger storage systems for commercial use, 15-30kW storage capabilities and 100kW-1MW for utility-scale solar plants. It has also begun to release newer panel modules and sizes to the Australian market.
But it’s not all about GCL products at One Stop warehouse. The wholesaler also stocks LG and Enphase storage systems. “Enphase is also selling well,” Zhang says, although supply has been a bit of a problem as demand has “suddenly gone up very quickly”.