A man stands looking at a Tesla battery on the side of his home.

‘I don’t pay electric bills’: Home solar battery users praise benefits, but no rebates available in Sunshine State

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. .

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.”

Keith Gregg’s battery allows him to self-power his house at night with solar panels. (ABC News: Alex Brewster)

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.”

Mick de Brenni walks down a hallway holding papers at Parliament in Brisbane.
Mick de Brenni says building a storage market in the state means investing in battery manufacturing in Queensland.(AAP: Dan Peled – file photo)

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.

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