Next round of Solar Homes targets 42,000 resi arrays, 1,000 batteries 

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Victoria has released hard numbers for the latest round of its Solar Homes program. With the first year of the program having already experienced growing pains, originally oversubscribed and then temporarily halted, the government says that it has attempted to give the industry and householders certainty in this next round of the program. 

The government also reported today that the application process has been simplified, with it set to be handled by the retailer, rather than the householder. 

In an attempt to avoid ‘pink batts’-style safety problems, experienced under a federal initiative around a decade ago, the Victorian Government says that only accredited installers using approved products will qualify for the Solar Homes program. It has allocated an additional $9 million for the training of installers and new apprentices. 

“We’re making sure free training is available to installers and apprentices, so our workforce has the skills they need to rollout this program as safely as possible,” said the Minister for Training Gayle Tierney in a statement. Tierney was accompanied by both Premier Daniel Andrews and Energy Minister Lily D’Ambrosio in making the second-round Solar Homes announcement today. 

The first round of Solar Homes saw 32,000 residential solar systems installed, the government reports. 

Smart Energy Council CEO John Grimes said that it was essential that installers read the “comprehensive” Notice to Market issued to installers who wish to participate in the next round of the Solar Homes program. 

Under the program, the Victorian Government is providing an up-front grant of up to $2,225 for a rooftop PV system. Alongside this, interest-free loans that will cover a system size of 4 kW – meaning that households can install PV with no cost up front. 

The solar battery rebate will provide up to $4,838 for the installation of a residential battery. It is available for households that already have a rooftop PV system, but have not accessed a rebate under the Solar Homes program. 

The battery program is targeted at areas where there are high levels of rooftop PV penetration. Alongside this, it appears that the government is targeting “mortgage belt” suburbs as they must be considered “a growth suburb” to qualify. 

Beyond being “a growth suburb”, to qualify for the battery program Solar Victoria specifies that at least 10% of homes in the suburb have rooftop PV and that the grid must be assessed as being suitably robust to deal with the battery capacity. 

An initial list of the suburbs qualifying for the battery subsidy has been published. 

Responding to the announcement Solar Citizens highlighted that 2,000 rental properties will qualify for round two of Solar Homes. “Great step towards helping everyone access clean, heap renewable energy,” Solar Citizens tweeted. 

The renters’ component of the subsidy scheme comes in two ‘streams’. The first sees the up front subsidy paid to the solar retailer for the rental property, subsidising the landlord’s capital outlay. This will provided on the basis of a ‘Solar Homes Landlord-Tenant Agreement’ being signed – which delivers the electricity bill savings directly to the tenant. 

The second ‘stream’, Stream B, of the renters program combines both the upfront payment with an interest-free loan, of an equivalent value, allowing both the tenant and landlord to pay off the PV system over time. 

WorkSafe and Energy Safe Victoria have both been charged with increasing auditing and inspections both during and after system installation. Solar Homes is administrated by Solar Victoria.