Editor’s Note: updated 11th January 2019.
In the second half of 2018, Steven Marshall revealed the State Government’s plan to reduce the cost of electricity. $100 million of subsidies and $100 million in loans will pay for the installation of home solar batteries, through the new Home Battery Scheme (HBS).
This is not to be mistaken with Tesla’s virtual power plant, as announced in February of 2018. The Tesla scheme will use homes as ‘rental’ space for government-owned systems. The payment for using your rooftop is cheaper electricity.
In contrast, this new scheme allows consumers to choose from a variety of systems which they will then own. However, excess energy generated from solar or stored in a battery will be available for use by the grid.
Update, 11 January 2019: Since the launch of the HBS in October 2018, we have learnt a lot more. Let’s take a look at what we now know, and what you as the consumer can do.
What we know
1) The basics of the budget
The State Government announced that 40,000 South Australian households from October 2018 will have access to two distinct offerings: subsidies and loans. The details are as follows:
- $100 million in battery subsidies
- $100 million in loans to pay for the installation of home battery systems
- The subsidy will be available to ALL South Australians at $500 per kilowatt hour (kWh).
- Energy Concession Holders will be able to access a higher subsidy at $600 per kilowatt hour (kWh).
- The subsidy is for the BATTERY ONLY.
- The subsidy will vary depending on the size of the battery, but there is a cap of $6,000 per battery installed.
- The loans are available for the entire solar system or for the expansion of existing systems.
- Households will be able to apply for finance through RateSetter (contracted by the Clean Energy Finance Corporation to distribute the funds).
- Not all battery products will be eligible for the subsidy.
2) The battery criteria
To be eligible, battery systems will need to be virtual power plant (VPP) capable. Not all batteries on the market currently have this capability.
A VPP capable system:
- Includes communication and control functions beyond basic battery system functions.
- Needs to be capable of registering to a VPP with minimal or no additional hardware.
- Will be able to respond to remote commands once registered to a VPP. This allows the energy provider to discharge your battery when the grid needs more power.
Battery systems must meet minimum technical specifications. These include:
- The system must be designed and installed by a CEC-accredited installer.
- The installed system must have a minimum 5-year warranty, including workmanship. The battery component must have a minimum 7-year warranty (under daily cycling application).
- The system must be VPP capable (as above).
A priority will also be given to providers who commit to installing systems that are manufactured or assembled in South Australia.
3) Some approved batteries
There are only a handful of brands that are currently on the list of approved batteries. This list will grow in time, but the approval process is no simple task. As such, some battery providers won’t see the value in applying for approval, and may sit this one out.
Here are a couple of brands that are on the list, and that are compatible with almost all existing systems:
- Enphase ACB
- sonnenBatterie by Sonnen
- LG Chem
4) Some approved retailers
Solar providers and installers are required to meet a set of standards in order to qualify for the HBS. These include CEC accreditation, contribution to the South Australian economy and company reputation.
Update, 11 January 2019: Energy SA is now proud to be a CEC approved retailer and a Qualified System Provider for the South Australian Home Battery Scheme. We have worked hard to achieve these approvals, and are proud to be contributing to the future of South Australia.
What can you do?
Keep informed. Research your options. Get the ball rolling and get a quote.
If you’re waiting for your favourite brand to get on the list, it’s worth contacting the company to see if they are applying for approval. Otherwise, we highly recommend brands like Enphase and Sonnen – each of which has different benefits, depending on your needs.
If you’d like to know more about what works for your situation, give us a call on 1300885359 or enquire online.