South Australia Announces an Incentive Program for Home Batteries

4th Nov 18

Written by James Doyle

The South Australian government announced its Home Battery Scheme some time ago, but the details were not published until the first week of September. The total funding available for home battery rebates is $100 million, and the program is expected to benefit 40,000 households.

Home battery systems are an excellent complement for solar power, since they eliminate the main limitation of photovoltaic arrays: inability to deliver electricity when there is no sunshine. With batteries, you can rely on solar power at night, simply by sizing the array larger and storing surplus production.

How the Home Battery Scheme Works

Most Australians with solar power systems are aware of the benefits of home batteries. However, the technology cost represents a significant barrier in many cases. South Australia’s incentive program for battery systems offers up to $6,000 per household, and the exact rebate amount is calculated based on the storage capacity in kilowatt-hours.

  • Initially, the normal incentive rate will be $500/kWh. For example, an 8-kWh battery system would be eligible for a rebate of $4,000.
  • An increased incentive of $600/kWh is available for energy concession holders. This category includes low-income families, veterans and pensioners.

The Home Battery Scheme covers around half the cost of energy storage systems, and this improves the financial performance from the user’s standpoint. Participating homeowners can also join a virtual power plant program, where battery capacity is aggregated and managed to perform the functions of a centralised power station.

Widespread adoption of home batteries does not only benefit the end users. There are also benefits for the entire electric sector of South Australia:

  • There are over 230,000 residential solar systems in SA. Their combined output can cause surplus production on a sunny day, which can destabilise the network voltage and frequency. However, batteries can prevent this by absorbing surplus production.
  • The opposite effect happens after sunset, since the loss of solar generation causes a demand peak on the grid. Batteries can deliver energy at this time of the day, trimming down the peak in demand.

Homeowners face the highest kWh prices during peak demand, but with batteries they can avoid consuming electricity during those hours. Network operators also benefit, since they can avoid expensive grid upgrades that would be necessary without demand mitigation measures.

Combining Home Batteries with Existing Solar Systems

Along with the Home Battery Scheme, the SA government also announced a loan program from the Clean Energy Finance Corporation. This program also has $100 million in funds, and financing is available for the following purposes:

  • Purchasing a new solar power system.
  • Increasing the capacity of an existing photovoltaic array.
  • Battery system purchases: The loan can be combined with a rebate from the Home Battery Scheme to make energy storage even easier to afford.

Home batteries make solar power even more valuable, providing benefits for all stakeholders in the electric industry. Balancing generation and consumption is one of the main challenges in modern power networks, and batteries are emerging as the ideal solution.

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