Like many Australians, I love renewable energy, I love EVs and I love the solar panels we installed on our home in Feb 2020. Now that more than 1/4 of Aussie homes have solar, the next frontier is energy storage.
With Australia’s energy grid is increasingly leveraging utility-scale storage to replace aging coal-fired power plants, or avoid new gas peaker plants being required.
In addition, households can really benefit from storing the power collected from the sun locally, in a battery. This allows you to use the power collected during the day, at night, ensuring your demand on the grid reduces and therefore you cost of energy, often a significant contributor to household budgets, can be dramatically reduced. In the event there is a blackout, your house can run from the energy stored in the battery.
The challenge is solving the low adoption of home battery storage, which currently sits at less than 1%.
Independent Member for Indi, Helen Haines is located just down the road in Wangaratta and earlier this week, proposed a new bill to parliament – the Cheaper Home Battery Bill 2022.
Haines has a great Tweet thread on the bill’s detail, which frankly I wish more politicians would do, explaining it in plain English, making it easy for the average Australian to understand.
The basic proposition is that a $3,000 rebate rebate would be provided to applicants, in the form of an STC (small-scale technology certificate), which is collected by the installer. This means when you get a quote from someone to install a home battery, like the Tesla Powerwall 2, you would be $3,000 less out of pocket.
While there’ll be a number of batteries supported under the bill (assuming it passes), the Powerwall 2 is among the most popular. A Powerwall right now costs $11,050, then you need to add $1,700 for supporting hardware. This includes a Gateway that ensures its safe for work to be conducted on the grid supply side. This brings the total cost of the hardware to $12,750 and then you add installation and depending on your setup, location etc, you’re cost would be somewhere between $13-$15k.
A reduction of $3,000 would reduce the out of pocket expense of adding home battery storage and allow more people to consider it. The Powerwall 2 is a 13.5kWh battery, but there are certainly smaller options available at lower costs. Some solutions make you choose which appliances you’d like to run, while this is pitched as a whole home backup, allowing you to run your aircon, fridge, TVs, washing machine etc, even during a blackout.
Victoria does already offer solar battery rebates, through the Solar Homes program, but there’s a massive restriction that makes it almost useless. One of the conditions of receiving a $3,500 rebate on a battery, is that you haven’t already taken part in the Solar Homes Program. Given the vast majority of homes in VIC that have added solar in the past few years would have, they are all ineligible to access this rebate. Keep in mind, these people are the most likely to want to add battery storage.
When we bought our solar, one of the great options was to take an interest free loan for 4 years, for part of the cost of the solar system. This is money we don’t miss week to week, but made a significant reduction in the up front cost and allowed us to add solar earlier than we otherwise would have. I hope the Bill considers the same opportunity not just for low-income earners, but for all (some household income cap may apply) interested in adding Storage.
Do yourself a favour and go read the whole Tweet thread from Haines.