Adelaide leads again, with rebates for shared solar, V2G, demand response

Four years after it was first out of the blocks to incentivise the uptake of home battery storage, the City of Adelaide looks set to lead once again, with new rebates targeting shared solar, electric vehicles, virtual power plants, and demand response.

In a series of changes to its 2015 Sustainability Incentives Scheme, announced on Wednesday, the City hopes to extend the benefits of rooftop solar to those who can’t easily install it, to boost the uptake of EVs and vehicle to grid technology, and to encourage electricity load-shifting, to better balance the state’s heavily renewable grid.

The shared solar incentive, which will come into play alongside the others on July 1, will offer a rebate to help consumers in  co-invest in solar systems and share the electricity those systems generate.

Up to $20,000 will be made available, per site, with a maximum of $500 per premise, and no more than 20 per cent of installation costs for shared solar on multi-storey premises – systems must be larger than 20kW.

“As shared solar can bring benefits and bill savings for owners, tenants and residents of multi-storey developments, it is an area of technology and energy market innovation that we would like accelerated progress,” said Adelaide Lord Mayor Sandy Verschoor.

On electric vehicles, incentives aim to boost the use of innovative two-way EV charging stations with smart controls that allow car batteries to feed into the grid and form virtual power plants.

To this end, the City will offer up to $250 rebates for electric bicycle charging stations; up to $1,000 for EV one-way charging station (7 kW to ≤ 50 kW); and up to $5,000 for a two-way EV charging station (7 kW to ≤ 50 kW), or an EV charging station (> 50 kW).

“By 2025 or 2030, car park operators could be partnering with electric vehicle fleets to charge when electricity prices are low and sell when prices are high,” Verschoor said.

“Adelaide is preparing for a future where workers could be ‘paid to park’ or visitors might ‘plug and play’ while they are at a City festival, because they can sell energy in their vehicle battery back to the national electricity market.”

Verschoor noted the scheme could also provide an opportunity for the City’s car park operators, to support businesses and commuters in the uptake of electric vehicles.

“Sustainable technology development moves extremely fast,” she said. “Electric vehicles can charge up to eight times faster than four years ago, travelling over 450km on a single charge.

“As a city designed for thoughtful innovation, Adelaide is inviting entrepreneurs and researchers to come and build businesses around electric vehicle-to-grid technologies, that will have global markets.

“With these technologies already on the market, we are getting ready for the day when they can act like a big battery for Adelaide and all South Australians.”

And in another forward-looking policy move, the City will also offer incentives for businesses and households that shift their electricity use to times when renewable electricity is abundant and offering power for around half the normal cost.

This part of the scheme will offer up to $500 in rebates for smart systems that control approved appliances, including pool pumps, hot water, underfloor heating and electric vehicle charging.

It will also offer up to $1,000 for an energy management system that controls four or more electric vehicle charging stations; and up to $10,000 for an EMS that controls four or more electric vehicle charging stations with virtual power plant capabilities.

“Shifting when we use pool pumps, water and under-floor heaters and electric vehicle chargers helps ‘even out’ demand through the day, contributing to a more stable grid that can run increasingly with renewable energy,” Verschoor said.

As we reported here on Wednesday, load shifting, or demand response, is widely considered to be a vital ingredient to renewables heavy grids like that of South Australia.

In Australia, however, the usual speed-humps of policy inaction and regulatory barriers have so far stood in the way of any real progress in the area.

Schemes like the City of Adelaide’s, while working within existing regulatory confines, will at the very least serve to raise awareness of demand response, and to educate consumers about the opportunities open to them if they participate.

The City’s leadership on such innovative approaches to energy technology dates back to 2015, when it introduced Australia’s first energy storage and electric vehicle charging station incentives in July of that year.

That scheme, co-funded by the state government, has seen 476 applicants invest more than $7.3 million in sustainable technologies, according to Verschoor. Better still, every $1 contributed by the scheme has secured almost $8 of private investment.

“Our incentives have helped dramatically increase the number of solar systems generating clean energy across the city and reduce power costs for many residents and businesses alike.

“Adelaide is staying ahead of the curve and helping ratepayers and entrepreneurs take up opportunities in the low carbon economy that save money, support business innovation and employment.”

Incentives will also be available for organisations, precincts, buildings and events to secure carbon neutral certification and use leading rating tools to benchmark and improve their environmental performance.

The City said it was also winding back or stopping some existing rebates, including residential energy storage, LED replacements, and energy monitoring systems.

Remaining rebates, however, include up to $5,000 towards the purchase of energy storage for businesses, multi-storey commercial, non-profit community and sporting organisations; and up to $1,000 to households and businesses towards upgrading or installing a solar hot water system.

More details of rebates, eligibility and the application process will be released when the incentives are introduced, on July 1.

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