Victoria’s Independent Federal Member for Indi, Helen Haines, on Monday tabled her Cheaper Home Batteries Bill which would essentially act as a nationwide rebate for household batteries.
The legislation would cut the upfront cost of installing a home battery system by as much as $3,000 by amending the Renewable Energy Act 2000 to include residential batteries as eligible technology, just as Australia currently does for rooftop solar panels and hot water systems. “My bill builds on this Howard government framework and updates it for the 2020s,” Haines said in her speech to parliament introducing the bill.
The proposition is similar to that put forward by Tristan Edis, Director of Analysis and Advisory at Green Energy Markets, during pv magazine’s Insight Australia event in 2021. It appears Edis has in fact been in contact with Haines, with the MP referring to expert analysis by Green Energy Markets in her speech to parliament, saying it found the bill could drive the installation of up to two million home batteries by 2030.
The proposal has garnered widespread support, with Zali Steggall, the Federal Member for Warringah who ousted Tony Abbott in 2019, seconding the bill. Since then, Atlassian tech entrepreneur and billionaire Mike Cannon-Brookes applauded the move on Twitter, while the Smart Energy Council described the bill as “important.”
The exact amount Australian households could save would depend on the capacity of their installed battery as well as when they choose to install, as these both factor into how many small-scale technology certificates (STCs) the systems would be awarded.
Currently, the bill proposes determining the amount of certificates, and thus the cost cut from the initial price, by looking at the annual electricity discharge of the battery (MWh presumably) in conjunction with the estimated years the system will create renewable energy, known as a “deeming rate”. Like Australia’s rooftop solar scheme, the subsidy would drop over time.
As it stands, a “deeming rate” of 15 years would apply for all installations before 2026, before decreasing by one year until it arrives at 11 years in 2030.
Accelerate electrification of households 👏🏻
Bring down bills, create jobs & improve grid stability.
💚💛 → 🔋⚡️ https://t.co/leUtKxuvFw
— Mike Cannon-Brookes 👨🏼💻🧢🇦🇺 (@mcannonbrookes) February 14, 2022
In parliament on Monday, Haines pointed out that while around one third of Australian homes have rooftop solar, the highest uptake in the world, the number of households with batteries is less than 1%.
“The next step in the renewable energy boom is building storage,” she said. “But, right now, batteries are too expensive. They are out of reach for most Australians.”
“Right now, a 13.5-kilowatt-hour Tesla Powerwall 2 might set you back around $15,000 all in. That’s just way too much for most Australian households to even consider. My bill could drive down that price by around $3,000.
“Under my bill, as under the existing scheme, the precise amount you will save will depend on how big your battery is and how you use it,” Haines added.
Dr @helenhainesindi Cheaper Home Batteries Bill would be a win for the #grid, with more Australians able to embrace the benefits of renewable energy.
Read our full response at https://t.co/79CWGX1H6o #AusPol #HouseholdBatteries #CleanEnergyFuture pic.twitter.com/WYSzW9CGsJ
— Clean Energy Council (@cleannrgcouncil) February 14, 2022
Precisely what Haines means with “how” households use their batteries isn’t entirely clear, though the MP is likely referring to whether households sign up to Virtual Power Plant (VPP) programs, which can help cut payback time for the technology. VPPs essentially aggregate fleets of residential batteries, combining their capacity to enable trading on energy spot markets and the frequency control ancillary services (FCAS) market.
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I have worked in the solar industry for over 12 years, and I think this is a terrible idea. Was there any consultation done with people who actually work in the industry? Or has it been thought up by an STC trader, no guessing what their motives are. It is a terrible idea because the STC rebate is fundamentally flawed. Once the STC certificates are claimed and money taken, there is no responsibility that panels, or batteries, in this case will ever actually produce the power that the STC payment was based on.
Eg. You can install solar panels on a south facing roof directly in the shade of a big tree and you still get the STC rebate. Which is supposed to be based on those panels producing a certain amount of renewable power over a set number of years. – They never will. Even worse, because you installed cheap crap that doesn’t last the amount of time it is supposed to, you can replace it all and claim the STC rebate again! Even though the first lot of equipment never produced the renewable power it was supposed to. Ask anyone that has been in the solar industry for a while STC rebate attracts cheap cowboys looking to make a quick buck.
Hi Daniel, interesting to hear! I think the thinking is that the STC scheme – while not perfect – has enabled Australia to install more rooftop solar than anywhere in the world. So that perhaps by adding batteries, the country could stimulate similar uptake, which then starts a cycle of price depression by creating economies of scale. I also know the Clean Energy Regulator in 2021 took over regulating all aspects of the SRES scheme and they are currently bringing in suites of new tools to crack down on “cowboy” installers. I haven’t seen anything specifically about, say, installing systems on shaded rooftops, but I think they are definitely trying to use apps and other tools to gain some more oversight on installs claiming STCs
Daniel, you shared an important negative aspect, but after your vent, how about you share a positive aspect. What would YOU propose is a great idea in helping to bring the cost of home batteries down significantly?
It has been made clear that no scheme is perfect, but as you have a lot of justifiable anger toward the current scheme, based on your vast experience in the profession, put forward your suggestions.
It would be great to read what an industry insider has to say.
Daniel, you would hope accredited Clean Energy Council Solar installers wouldn’t install panels like you’re suggesting. If so, it probably wouldn’t be long before the CEC caught up with them as the customer would surely be disappointed with the solar generation outcome and report it. Also this type of install / installers are few and fair between so we shouldn’t look negatively on a good idea because of a small percentage. The difficulty with batteries is basically the return in investment. Some parts of Australia in peak power periods can benefit from batteries with a reasonable ROI but other states, like Qld for example are only paying around 18c kWh so ROI is over 10 years. As the price of power increases, which it appears is coming, this will assist with ROI. Thinking ahead, better battery prices and power price increases will make batteries more attractive so this is a great idea to put in place.
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