Demand for rooftop solar batteries increases as energy prices in eastern Australia soar

Demand for batteries linked to rooftop solar panels has soared over the past month amid rising energy prices and coldest start to winter in decades.

According to Solar Victoria Managing Director, Stan Krpan, inquiries into battery discounts in Victoria have increased over the past two weeks.

The Andrews government, which expanded its solar rebate program in the March budgetoffers up to $3,500 to households for solar battery installation, as well as rebates for solar panels and solar water heaters.

The clean Energy Council, the industry group representing Australia’s renewable energy industry, also said solar retailers were reporting a boom in sales enquiries.

About 30% of Australian households have solar on the roof, the highest rate in the world.

Battery systems provide power for use at night, on cloudy days, or in some cases during a power outage.

Krpan said 5,842 battery refund requests were approved this fiscal year, with three weeks remaining, more than double the number received last year.

“Over the past two weeks, phone inquiries to our contact center have been 50% higher than the annual average,” Krpan said.

“We expect this to lead to growth in installations over the winter months.”

Kane Thornton, chief executive of the Clean Energy Council, said solar retailers under the council’s accreditation program are reporting a significant increase in enquiries, “as consumers seek to take control of their energy bills through solar on the roof and batteries”.

“Recent media reports of the rising cost of electricity and now the threat of power supply interruptions appear to be a driver of this increased interest in the feedback we have received,” he said. he declares.

According to Thornton, more than three million Australian homes and small businesses have now installed solar systems, “and we expect 2022 to be another strong year for solar power and small-scale storage”.

Other states and territories with similar battery systems, including South Australia and the ACT, said their strong investment in renewables had cushioned the blow of rising energy prices.

The ACT was the first state or territory to introduce a battery rebate incentive program in 2016, providing households with a rebate of $3,500 or 50% of the cost of installing a solar battery.

As of June 1, 2,990 battery installation rebates have been issued.

An ACT government spokesperson said there had been a further increase in applications since a zero-interest loan scheme was introduced alongside the existing scheme in August last year.

Under the program, households can borrow between $2,000 and $15,000 to invest in energy-efficient products, including solar, battery-powered, and rooftop hot water heat pumps.

“Solar and battery storage can save an average household 60-80% on their electricity bills,” the spokesperson said.

Since the home battery program began in South Australia at the end of 2018, 19,830 households have been conditionally approved for the grant, while 18,517 batteries have been installed.

Households that have adopted the program have reported annual electricity bill reductions of between $300 and $2,000.

A spokesperson for the Department of Energy and Mines said inquiries about the SA program had increased over the past month, but that could be because it announced last month that inquiries would be closed on September 1, or sooner if the grant money was exhausted.

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Nicki Hutley, a former partner at Deloitte Access Economics, said the ACT and South Australia were “showing the rest of the nation” how investing in renewables brings better returns to households and businesses.

“As one of the sunniest and windiest countries on the planet, we have the tools we need,” Hutley said. “Governments can step up their efforts by attracting capital and investing in more workforce skills to support the transition. »

Electricity bills for households in the ACT are expected to be around $800 lower than those in New South Wales in the next financial year, after the territory has reduced electricity prices due to guarantee a long-term supply of cheap renewable energy.

While battery rebates are relatively new, solar panel rebates have been available for more than five years, and the growth in the installation of new rooftop solar systems has begun to slow.

Rooftop solar PV capacity was down 28% in the March quarter of 2022 compared to the same period last year, according to the Clean Energy Regulator last report found.

Clean Energy Regulator chairman David Parker said it had always been expected that the trend would eventually slow.

“This year’s decline is consistent with the drop in home improvement spending that exploded in the first two years of the pandemic,” Parker said.

The report also cited cost-of-living pressures and lower feed-in tariffs over the past year as possible factors in the slowdown.

“This is still the third highest annual capacity on record and is higher than pre-pandemic installation rates,” he said.

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