In recent years, the Australian National Energy Market (NEM) has witnessed a consistent upward trend in electricity costs, a phenomenon that is not entirely unfamiliar. What has raised eyebrows, however, is the unprecedented pace of this increase and the subsequent grid instability incidents leading to widespread power outages nationwide. The situation was exacerbated by the tumultuous weather conditions that struck Southeast Queensland at the end of 2023 & start of 2024, adding more issue and leaving hundreds of thousands of people in the region without access to electricity.

Electricity market price fluctuations heighten the risk for traditional electricity retailers, prompting them to boost margins and secure insurance policies, ultimately passing these added expenses onto end users. This exacerbates the situation, leading to a further increase in electricity costs. Amidst this volatile market backdrop and the emerging renewable power sector in Australia, Amber Electric emerged as a new player in the industry.

The homeowners are facing high cost of electricity in Australia. Electricity retailers acting as middle-man and buffer, pushing electricity cost even higher. 

Image source: Amber

AMBER Electric – signup.
Straight forward process of swapping your retailer for Amber. Go to and click signup. Fill in details, and within few days you will receive a welcome email with copy of the final bill from your current retailer.

Once switched over, you are on the variable tariff that reflects your local market condition and electricity cost. How much it can cost per kWh and how much it can change during the day? Well see below.

Electricity cost
Over 12 month, in SE QLD, we observed price to fluctuate around $0.15/kWh midday and tip $0.5/kWh in the evenings and mornings. With an occasional spike event. While this is rare to see prices spike to $11.66 per kWh, we have seen number of days like this.  See chart below, notice yellow spikes.
Below is 6 months price variation log. Spikes represent $5-$15 per kWh events. They relatively rare but can be expensive if you happen to consume power at the high rate at time of the price spike.

Time Of Use (TOU) anyone?
Below you can see example of NEM price fluctuation through the day. This ‘cost’ plus network fees and charges are passed on and create your base cost and fees that form part of bill. This also means, that you have two strategies available to you, to benefit from Amber account.
1. Use power as you normally do, ride out peaks and dips. Over 12 months period you ‘may’ save some money. Remember that exporting solar via Amber direct pricing could be not profitable due to very low export prices mid-day.
2. Shift your power consumption in line with electricity cost variation by means of shifting your power usage pattern or use Battery (BESS). Charge BESS when cheap, consume BESS when expensive.

Australian electricity prices
Source: NEM

Amber Electric for Battery
Amber offer native battery control algorithm that optimise use of your battery. If you are the owner of one of the compatible batteries, Amber can directly control your system. It will do so by charging you battery when power cost is low for self-consumption or for discharge back to grid for a profit, as it see fits. List of compatible BESS can be found here: PDF

We wanted some flexibility in our tested and opted to utilise different approach. Since amber offer API key to it’s clients, we build a system with a battery controlled by Home Assistant that runs EMHASS both are free community managed solutions. This configuration allowed us to have full control of our china sourced BESS, Inverters and Amber Electric pricing. You can read more detailed post on how to set up EMHASS here. Read details on our China made BESS here.

EMHASS in action
The EMHASS automation logic is very tuneable to individual needs. In our case, it was tasked to watch Amber pricing, charge and discharge BESS for maximum profit. It discharged BESS to both Grid and Home load, shielding our power consumption from high prices users see in Amber during evening hours.
We had a benefit of consuming power for home and charging battery during mid-day electricity price sink. Occasionally we been charging in the late mornings at the cost of $0.05 kWh. To put it in to perspective, to fully recharge EV battery of 80kWh, it will cost you $4.


Amber and EMHASS performance
Based on the observations Amber Electric account with or without Solar is to be evaluated and used with care. Some specific applications may benefit, but was majority, unmanaged residential applications can find them self boing backwards. However, as soon as battery (BESS) added in to the mix, the benefits of using Amber Electric are evident. The financial gain is quickly scaled up with the size of BESS, even more so in households that own Electric Vehicle. 

In our example we utilised low cost PA Solar Battery Storage, which dramatically reduce return on investment, with projected ROI be under 7 years.
Below is an example of the EMHASS optimisation screen. You can see battery SOC(State of Charge) change as time progresses and EMHASS making decision to purchase and sell electricity. On some extreme occasions we observed system generating over $300 credit on the single day, by injecting power back to the grid when NEM was critical and cost of electricity skyrocketed.

Conclusion: Amber Electric 

Amber Electric presents a clear path forward for promoting localized energy management within a holistic and predominantly renewable grid. However, to fully harness the benefits of Amber Electric for households, it is essential to complement the photovoltaic (PV) system with a Battery Energy Storage System (BESS). 

Amber impressions:

– Grid direct, live pricing– Can be expensive if mismanaged
– Transparent & detailed charges – Do not fit many consumers
– Good APP and monthly bills– Unpredictable costs
– Major financial gain to people with BESS– Do not support many BESS

Read more about how system was installed, configured and performed. 

We have build and operated the system for some time now, focusing on Tariff Arbitrage in Australian grid. There are some very interesting findings, click the link to the next article: Tariff Arbitrage in Australian grid

Michael Review