In a move that has received strong criticism from the Australian public, energy retailers have begun to reduce financial incentives for homes that supply solar-powered electricity to the grid. In response, some Australian solar customers are backing down by relying on these companies and installing batteries. A solar retailer reported a 223% increase in battery installations in Australian homes this year, while a fellow supplier said it had seen a 211% increase in the same time period.
As discussed in our recent article, introductory rates are kept at an all-time low and are getting lower and lower. With more announcements this week that energy retailer EnergyAustralia will reduce NSW’s feed rate for customers from 9.5 cents per kWh to 7.6 cents per kWh, starting October 1, many households want to reduce their reliance on these retailers, ensuring they don’t get lost in the long run.
Increased domestic battery uptake
Solar batteries store electricity generated by solar energy that can be used at night or at times when homes need more energy than that produced by solar panels on the roof.
While solar batteries are a fairly new concept for the millions of Australians who have invested in solar panels in recent years, there is now a growing interest in technology.
Many Australian solar retailers have reported a steady stream of inquiries, stating that most of their customers are opting for Tesla’s Powerwall 2.
Customers want less dependence on energy companies
Decreasing food tariffs are causing more solar consumers to seek independence from energy companies.
Energy Matters CEO Roshan Ramnarain shared his thoughts on the trend;
“We expect the demand for solar energy with storage systems to continue to grow strongly,” he said. “While initially considered too expensive, with government grants, interest-free loan options and lower prices, battery technology is really starting to find its feet in Australia.”
“Customers have realized that they can get more out of their panels than just re-feeding on the grid,” he said. “A lot of people want independence from the power grid and energy retailers.”
“If you don’t get a decent feed rate, it’s about taking control of your own generation and consumption,” he said. “It’s a powerhouse for a lot of people who aren’t used to thinking like that.”
In an interview with ABC News earlier this week, Sydney resident Alexander Pain explained his decision to install a solar battery.
“When I saw the power rate go down, it made me realize that the energy generated by solar panels is worth a lot more to me than to the power company,” he said.
Pain is at EnergyAustralia and last week received a warning about falling entry fees.
“I’ve been thinking about a battery for a while and that was just the trigger,” he says.
Pain sees his purchase of Tesla Powerwall 2 battery as something that would see him rely less on his energy company.
“I will always need them, but the less dependence on an electric company, the better,” he adds.
Is the cost still too high?
While it may increase interest and inquiries for solar batteries, many solar customers still choose not to install them for their current cost.
Despite predictions of large price declines, battery systems are still relatively expensive.
“People are still looking for this 20-30% decline, which was expected in the last two years,” Ramanarain said.
However, while battery prices may be beyond the reach of some households at this time stage, many solar retailers claim that they will continue to fall as production increases and demand remains high.
“It’s still expensive to buy one, but the recovery time is reasonable,” Ramanarain said. “I think you’ll see prices go down over the next two years, especially as the adoption of electric vehicles picks up pace in Australia.”
Overall, as power rates continue to decline and the cost of solar batteries decreases, it is likely that more Australians will see battery systems as a solid investment in their domestic energy independence.
Until then, however, families who can’t afford batteries, but who want to get the best deal to get their excess energy, should do a search.
“For those who can’t afford a battery, be sure to compare the introduction rates of all retailers,” Ramnarain said. “Energy Matters’ free energy comparison tool can help you find the best deal from more than 95% of energy retailers in your area.”
Discounts and incentives for the solar battery
The financial case of batteries improves when there are local rebates and incentives on offer. They can range from initial rebates when buying batteries to demanding response programs that reward you for taking charge of the mains.
There are several active drum programs in Australia, which vary by state and territory:
- In Victoria, solar battery rebates are available with a current value of up to $ 4,174 until all 2020-2021 rebates have been fully allocated. They will then be reduced to $ 3,500.
- New South Wales offers an interest-free loan of up to $ 14,000 for homeowners deploying a battery-powered solar system and up to $ 9,000 to add batteries to an existing facility.
- South Australia offers a battery discount of up to $ 3,000 and the opportunity to participate in a virtual power plant (VPP). When battery owners join a VPP, they allow the power company to use their battery capacity in exchange for power bill credits.
- The Australian Capital Territory (ACT) offers a battery reduction of $ 825 per kilowatt of power, up to 30 kW (up to $ 24,750).
Popular solar batteries currently available in Australia
While the following list is not exhaustive, here are some of Australia’s most popular solar battery options:
Tesla Powerwall 2
The Tesla Powerwall is one of the best known and most popular solar batteries available in Australia. One of the favorites of both solar installers and customers, a Tesla Powerwall is one of the best solar batteries you can find on the market today.
The LG RESU series are considered some of the best batteries in the Australian market with a good reputation for quality and affordability.
Designed in Germany and manufactured in Australia, the SonnenBatterie Hybrid is a popular modular home battery configured for your specific power needs. It offers a flexible design, expandable in increments of 2.5 kWh up to 15 kWh.
Alternating current battery
Enphase’s unique battery storage system is possibly the cheapest entry. It is also compatible with most solar systems, so there is no need to upgrade to an expensive hybrid inverter. Each battery only has a capacity of 1.2 kWh, but they are designed to be stacked to offer customers a fully customizable storage solution.
SENEC.Home V3 Hybrid
The new SENEC.Home V3 Hybrid is a game-changing solar battery with a combined PV and battery inverter. This battery offers an extended 20-year warranty: twice the standard battery warranty.