Melbourne’s suburbs shining with solar and battery uptake – pv magazine Australia

After a bumpy start, the Victorian government’s Solar Homes Program is now in full swing, lead by strong uptake in Melbourne’s suburbs and the state’s rural north. Meanwhile, demand for batteries linked to rooftop solar has skyrocketed over the last month, spurred by the energy crisis and an especially cold winter.

June 21, 2022 Blake Matich

The Victorian government’s $1.3 billion Solar Homes Program (program) may have had bumpy beginnings but it’s certainly up and running now, not only boosting solar uptake but also virtual power plants (VPPs) and residential batteries. 

Melbourne’s outer suburbs are leading household solar boom. Since the rebate began back in 2018, five metropolitan suburbs have accessed more solar rebates than any others. Indeed, Tarneit, Cragieburn, Point Cook, Clyde North and Truganina make up a full 10% of all Solar Homes installations across the state. 

Rural access to the Solar Homes program was a point of criticism for Nationals’ Victoria Murray Plains MP Peter Walsh in 2020, who alleged Melbourne-centrism in the program when his electorate was overlooked by the program’s scheme for energy storage devices. 

However, northern Victoria is leading the uptake among rural areas of the state, notably the regional cities of Mildura, Shepparton, Wodonga, Wangaratta and Wallan. 

The Victorian government claims the program has already helped more than 200,000 Victorians install solar, saving households an average of $1,073 on their annual electrical bill. Moreover, a Solar Victoria customer survey revealed that 71% of respondents would not have installed solar if it hadn’t been for the program. 

“Our Solar Homes Program is driving down the cost of living for Victorian households and reducing emissions,” says minister for Solar Homes Lily D’Ambrosio. 

“Solar Homes customers are well-positioned to absorb energy bill rises in energy costs, by time-setting appliances to run during the day when solar systems are operating at their peak.”

The program is still open, and Victorian homeowners and rental providers are able to apply for rebates of $1,400 for the installation of solar panels, with an optional interest free $1,400 loan, and a further $1,000 rebate for the installation of solar hot water.  

“Household solar puts the power back into the hands of Victorian households,” continued D’Ambrosio, “while helping meet our target of halving emissions by 2030 and supporting 5,500 clean energy jobs.” 

Battery boom 

The last month has seen especially cold temperatures which, in combination with the energy crisis, has seen the demand for solar battery energy storage systems skyrocket. Solar Victoria chief executive, Stan Krpan, told The Guardian that inquiries into battery rebates in Victoria have spiked in the last two weeks.

Rates for residential battery energy storage systems are also available to households that have not previously claimed a Solar Homes rebate. The Andrews government expanded the scheme in March, and it now offers up to $3,500 for households to install a solar battery. 

Krpan reported that 5,842 battery rebate applications have been approved this financial year, more than double the number received last year with three weeks still to go. “In the past two weeks, phone inquiries to our contact centre have been 50% higher than the yearly average,” said Krpan. “We’re expecting this to lead to growth in installations over the winter months.”

The Victorian government-backed is also now supporting six different two-year VPP pilots as part of its Solar Homes program. The program is capped at 2000 rebates with the state government saying households that sign up to the pilot prior to June 30, 2022 and install a battery will receive a rebate of $4,174.

It has approved five battery brands to participate in the six distinct VPPs which it says will give participants “guaranteed financial benefits and additional consumer protections not widely available in the general market.”

The program’s five approved battery providers include Tesla, Mondo, Reposit, Sonnen and Arcstream.

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