Keith Gregg hasn’t paid an electric bill in over a year after installing a solar array in his Helensvale home on the Gold Coast, but if you’re thinking of doing the same, there’s no financial assistance from the Queensland government in the latest state budget. .
- Queensland energy minister says abandoned home battery scheme played its part, saying extension unnecessary
- Thirteen large-scale batteries are expected to be operational in Queensland by the end of the decade
- South Australia recently ended its refund scheme, while ACT and Victoria plans continue
Industry figures indicate that soaring energy prices and the risk of outages are causing homeowners to rush to retailers to order solar panels and batteries, but high upfront costs are a barrier for many.
Mr Gregg said after years of having solar panels, getting a battery was a no-brainer.
“After enjoying solar power during the day for a long time, I just decided it was a good idea to have solar power at night as well,” Gregg said.
“It worked really well – it cost quite a bit of money, but definitely money well spent.”
The retiree said it would take him another two years to break even, but it was an easily justifiable purchase.
“We had a power outage here a while ago – at my house all the lights were on, I could still watch TV, no problem.
“What surprised me was that I didn’t bring people from across the street.”
The state invests in batteries on a large scale
On Friday, the Queensland government announced a multi-million dollar investment to bolster the state’s energy independence.
Thirteen large-scale batteries will be deployed across the state, including a 200 megawatt battery at Greenbank in Logan south of Brisbane – the largest in the state.
The batteries should be operational by the end of next year.
Queensland’s Minister for Energy, Renewables and Hydrogen, Mick de Brenni, said the investment was the best strategy to alleviate household energy costs, rather than rebates for individuals.
“We think the most logical thing for most households is to invest in large-scale storage,” de Brenni said.
“That’s why we’re building the largest battery in Queensland history.
“We will be installing 12 utility-wide batteries statewide, bringing our total to 19 of these utility assets.
“It will make more and more sense over time, especially as we have made batteries locally for people in Queensland to have on hand.
“But they already make sense to install here in Queensland and the market is already working for Queenslanders who have rooftop solar to install a battery.”
Mr de Brenni said a 2018 scheme offering interest-free loans and rebates for solar power had served its purpose and a different approach was needed moving forward.
“The program was fully paid for and over that period – we saw a significant reduction in the cost of these systems, in fact, a $4,000 reduction in the cost of these systems, so this program did its job by defending our market”, Mr. de Brenni.
“The next step we are going to take to ensure we create a storage market in Queensland is to invest in battery manufacturing here.
Battery purchases remain a “complicated calculation”
Michael Brear, director of the Melbourne Energy Institute at the University of Melbourne, said there had been an increase in people looking to buy batteries and install solar power.
“There has already been a rush of orders in response to what is happening in Australian energy markets,” Professor Brear said.
“This is a very sensible response from homeowners to the increase in electricity prices over the next month.”
A solar battery allows you to store the energy generated by the panels during the day and night, which is usually reimbursed to you.
Professor Brear said it was a “reasonably complicated calculation” to assess whether a battery was a good investment at this stage.
“If you can afford a battery, it’s probably already a good thing to put one in.
“But if you have to get a loan for the money and you have to pay that money back at a significant interest rate, the savings may be marginal, but that can change.”
Professor Brear said government support systems to encourage solar absorption were therefore important.
“It’s to help overcome the upfront cost shock, because these things effectively have no operating cost once you install them – it’s all about the upfront cost,” he said.
“And if you can use some kind of support from your state or territory government, then that’s a good thing for a lot of landlords.”
Which jurisdictions offer discounts?
Victoria, ACT and South Australia all have solar battery rebates.
However, as part of its state budget, South Australia’s new government has revealed it will end its predecessor’s Home Battery Scheme – which offered $2,000 incentives for homeowners willing to invest – due to low adoption.
At a press conference last week, Premier Peter Malinauskas was asked if he regretted cutting the program during an energy crisis.
“Absolutely not, because no one was taking it – there’s no point in spending more money after the worst when it comes to taxpayers’ money in terms of energy,” Mr Malinauskas said. .
“We make no apologies for withdrawing funding from programs that don’t work and aren’t taken up and instead reinvest to ensure South Australians own and operate their own working generator to benefit the wider economy.”
It’s a different story in the ACT, which was the first state or territory to introduce a battery rebate in 2016, offering households a rebate of $3,500 or 50% off the cost of installing a battery. .
Earlier in June, ACT Energy Minister Shane Rattenbury hailed the program as a success.
“The benefits available to ACT households are quite generous and we’ve seen very high uptake,” Rattenbury said.
“These are all really designed to help people overcome that main problem for many households which is the initial upfront cost.
“There’s no doubt that the programs we’ve put in place are delivering significant ongoing savings to households, which is really important, especially when people are feeling the pressure of the cost of living.”
The Victorian government expanded its solar rebate in its March budget, offering households up to $3,500 to install a solar battery, in addition to rebates for solar panels and water heating systems.
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