When Growatt first partnered with Austra Energy – a distributor, wholesaler and consultant to the solar industry – the like-minded parties found they had what it takes to promote, sell and service Growatt’s then relatively new range of inverters in Australia’s burgeoning solar market.
“Austra is always watching out for brands that will provide good value for
customers of our distribution business,” says Alex Yang, operations manager for
the team of renewable energy professionals at Austra Energy, which has been
serving the solar industry since 2014. “We attend the world’s largest renewable energy expo SNEC, in Shanghai every year, looking for the latest technology. We met Growatt in mid-2017 and started distributing its inverters nationwide in Australia in 2018.”
Together, Austra Energy and Growatt have developed a steady stream of installer-oriented marketing strategies. The partnership has accelerated Growatt’s business expansion and made Growatt one of the most recognized and respected
inverter brands in Australia. For example, Yang says that “early this year, we put together an in-person event called SolaTecXpo.” It introduced Growatt’s new battery-ready solar inverter (the MIN 5000TL-XH, Single Phase 5.0kW 2 MPPTs with 13.5A string current, DC/AC ratio up to 2.0, Battery Ready interface), with the latest products from module maker JinkoSolar. Also, part of the program was an all-you-need-to know presentation on battery installation by Energy Training Group, and an update on trading Australian Small-scale Technology Certificates (STCs) by the developers of the Bridge Select app and installer workflow management portal.
Such events “provide an excellent opportunity for our already Growatt friendly installers to talk to end users about the flexibility of inverters that allow them to install batteries later, when they’re ready, or perhaps when they buy an EV,” says Yang. “I mean, petrol prices are crazy at the moment, and if you go electric with your vehicle, solar energy is virtually free.”
Need for flexibility
Yang estimates that of the six inverter brands Austra distributes, Growatt makes up 80% of the company’s sales, in large part because the manufacturer is as responsive to market trends as it is to local conditions.
He says Growatt recognizes the need for flexibility in an ever-changing energy landscape. For example, seeing that battery uptake is set to boom, and that customers
will pay a little bit extra to have a quality inverter that can manage energy flow to and from their future battery, as well as straight solar output.
Product localization is essential in a rapidly transitioning energy market such
as Australia, where the regulator, the Australian Energy Market Operator, is constantly
tweaking the technical requirements for equipment that interacts with the grid. What is more, innovations such as SA Power Networks’ Flexible Exports trial are paving the way for inverters to respond to real-time electricity-grid needs for more or less solar energy to be sent to the grid from distributed energy systems. Growatt is one of four inverter suppliers to be approved for such flexible control. “Growatt has been very supportive and adjusted quickly to meet Australian standards and make customized improvements for the Australian market,” continued Yang.
In addition, Austra Energy, in partnership with Growatt, has been able to provide a range of inverters suited to Australian houses with smaller rooftops that need to make use of a variety of orientations to maximize their solar generation.
Yang points to the 7 kW, 8 kW, 9 kW, and 10 kW Growatt single-phase MIN TL-X series with maximum power point tracking (MPPT) for three energy sources or orientations. Yang says the flexibility of Growatt MAX 80-133KTL3-X series inverters
which provide between 7 and 10 MPPTs will continue to help Austra Energy provide
its growing C&I segment with tailored solutions. C&I currently makes up between 10% and 15% of Austra’s business, but Yang says the return on investment for C&I systems is improving. “There is growing pressure to comply with corporate responsibility requirements to become carbon neutral, which is very important to an increasing number of businesses”. On the C&I side, Yang says that “Growatt even suggests optimal system designs to meet customer requirements.”
Communication and accessibility are key to the relationship, says Yang, who
believes the responsiveness of Growatt to onsite technical challenges is second
to none. Austra runs regular training sessions for installers of its products, which
include Longi, Jinko and Talesun solar modules, Growatt and Fronius inverters
and LG Chem and Growatt energy storage products, but when an installer needs
on-the-spot help with inverter settings, for example, Growatt’s technical team responds within the hour.
Although the Growatt-Austra Energy partnership is only four years old, it has proven the inverter brand’s value in the Australian market. “We can sell it and we can say it’s reliable, but if this is not true the customer won’t confirm it,” says Yang. “Our customer feedback is that Growatt provides reliable products and solutions and delivers economical solar power to significantly cut their electricity bills. Together we’re doing a great job to meet the requirements of the Australian solar
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