Discounted home batteries gather dust in Victoria, as solar flies off the shelf

As tension mounts over the lightning-fast uptake of the Victorian government’s rooftop solar rebate, barely one-quarter of the first allocation of home battery rebates has been filled in the first month of its launch.

The solar battery rebate, which offers discounts of up to $4,838 to households with existing solar systems – was launched on July 01, alongside new allocations for rooftop PV and solar hot water, and new offers of subsidised solar for rental properties, and zero interest loans.

Like the rooftop solar component of the Solar Homes scheme, the battery offer is being restricted to 1000 applications in the first year, with an initial 200 on offer in the first three months.

Stan Krpan, the CEO of Solar Victoria, which oversees the Solar Homes policy, says this initial offer is considered a sort of pilot, geographically targeted to 24 postcodes in growth areas and areas with “high” penetration ( above 10%) of PV.

In an interview with RenewEconomy’s Solar Insiders Podcast, Krpan said the amount of battery rebate applications had been staggered to prevent demand exceeding supply, as has so controversially happened with the rooftop solar component of the scheme.

But the battery rush has yet to come, with the website showing just 55 of the allotted rebates taken up so far, and 145 remaining until October 31 (as at the time of publication).

“We were expecting the batteries to be fully committed and that hasn’t happened,” Krpan told Solar Insiders.

“(And that’s) probably still the price point, for most people.

“Solar PV is obviously very attractive with the rebate,” especially when you factor in the zero interest loan,” Krpan says.

“Whereas on batteries … we’re providing … about half of an average 11kWh system, but that’s still a substantial capital outlay for most households.

“And for most households (if they’re factoring in a return on investment) it’s probably not tipping in favour of purchasing a battery right now. …Even after the rebate.”

This is not altogether a surprise – indeed, the same trend has been observed in South Australia, where subsidised batteries have been on offer to households since October 2018.

But Krpan, like countless other industry observers, is confident the tables will turn on battery storage uptake.

“For those who are committed, who have got solar PV and are looking for even greater control and greater optimisation… we think over time and as the industry grows and gets more mature and as the price comes down, that (uptake) will grow,” he said.

As a side note, the Solar Homes policy has not seen a huge take-up of solar for renters and landlords, either, and Krpan notes there are still 6000 discounted solar hot water systems on offer – and without a cap.

“So there are some marketing opportunities there,” he says.

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