Update 25 July 2019: Following the publication of the story below, our sister site PV Tech reported that dissatisfaction with caps set on the residential solar scheme have resulted in protests by installers. Melbourne became the ground this week of rallies against the state’s rationing of financial incentives for solar installations, reporter Jose Rojo Martin wrote.
Australia’s Smart Energy Council and others met outside the Parliament on Thursday to demand greater allocations of so-called solar rebates, which the state has capped at a monthly 3,333. The Council estimated turnout at some 300 protesters, with some bearing banners reading ‘RIP the Vic solar industry 2019’, ‘Our family depends on solar’ and others. The rebates, part of Victoria’s Solar Homes scheme, offers up to AU$2,225 (US$1,566) to homeowners and rental properties. Oversubscription this year saw the aid frozen, and then capped.
“Solar installers are at the end of their tether. Many haven’t been paid since April and they’re incurring substantial losses, laying off staff,” said the Smart Energy Council’s CEO John Grimes.
A pilot scheme in the Australian state of Victoria will give householders a rebate of “up to AU$4,838 for a solar battery system”, with a quarter of the first tranche of subsidies already accounted for since the scheme launched.
The low key programme will make up to 200 awards by the end of October, out of a total 1,000 rebates to dish out over the next year, for now joining the state-wide Solar Homes Package, which provides 50% of the cost back for a typical 4kW solar system (around AU$2,225). There are similar schemes for solar hot water and other energy efficient and sustainable energy equipment.
Figures provided by the State of Victoria Government on the programme estimate that households can save around AU$640 per year on their energy bills on average through installing a battery for their solar PV system. While prices vary greatly depending on size, functionality and perhaps branding, customers can get a 50% rebate, capped at AU$4,838. This equates to around a 7kWh system all-in (including bi-directional inverters), based on rough average prices listed with local installers. Rebates in future years are expected to decline in line with equipment cost declines.
A list of eligible products published by the government includes solutions from the cheaper end of the scale (SolaX, BYD) to the more expensive (Sonnen, Tesla, LG Chem). Residents must live in neighbourhoods where more than 10% of households already have solar panels, to maximise the benefit of batteries deployed on the local grid.
Australia has already been described as likely to become the "world's number one market" for residential energy storage by Sonnen CEO Christoph Ostermann, with high electricity prices a big factor behind that. South Australia appears to have taken the lead in providing policy support for batteries at home so far, with Sonnen and Eguana among foreign companies to have set up assembly plants in that state to comply with local domestic content rules for the South Australia Home Battery Scheme.
At time of this story going to press, 55 of the first 200 system rebates were already accounted for on the Victoria pilot’s website, having launched just a week earlier. The state has an overall target to support the deployment of around 720,000 rooftop solar systems by 2026 as part of a AU$1+ billion programme.
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