Labor home battery plan could slash electricity bills by up to 80%: report

Federal Labor’s home battery storage support policies could help Australian families slash their annual electricity costs by up to 80%, a new report has found.

The analysis, from the Smart Energy Council, says the Labor Party’s “ambitious but achievable” target of 1 million home battery systems by 2025 – and the rebate and financing policies that underpin that target – could combine with existing solar rebates to deliver massive savings for households.

Bill Shorten’s Labor has promised, if elected in just over two weeks’ time, to provide a $2,000 rebate for 100,000 battery installations in households with a gross annual income of less than $180,000.

The party has also committed to providing low-cost financing through the Clean Energy Finance Corporation and has set a target of 1 million household battery storage systems by 2025.

As David Leitch said here at the time of their announcement, “these are excellent policies” which will not only catch the attention of power bill-obsessed voters, but could kick-start an industry that is “perhaps for the first time, ready to be kickstarted.”

Batteries have been poised to boom in Australia’s residential sector for some time now, with many expecting uptake to follow the trajectory of rooftop solar, which has now been installed by more than 2 million households – and counting.

But this has not happened, with battery prices remaining too high for mass uptake. And that’s a shame, says Smart Energy Council CEO John Grimes, because adding battery storage to rooftop solar would make sense for so many families.

The SEC uses the example of a suburban family with two adults and one pre-schooler, living in a free-standing house that uses 6,570 kWh of electricity a year, or an average of 18kWh per day, at a cost of $2,336 a year.

“If they install an average sized 5kW solar panel system and a 6kWh solar battery, their power bill could be reduced by 60-80 per cent to as little as $467 a year,” the report says.

The upfront discount of $2,000 on the cost of a solar battery system would also reduce the payback period to somewhere within the warranty period – usually 10 years – in all states and the ACT, removing another major barrier to uptake.

On top of these benefits, the report says home solar battery systems would also offer consumers energy independence; protection from black outs; reduced emissions; increased property values; and a head start on cheap and clean electric vehicle charging.

“(Our) analysis shows that Federal Labor’s commitment to reduce the cost of batteries by $2,000 means 100,000 families will be able to slash their power bills by up to 80 per cent. That is fantastic news,” Grimes said in comments on Wednesday.

“The Smart Energy Council strongly welcomes a national target of one million battery storage systems by 2025. With battery prices falling and electric vehicle battery manufacturing powering ahead, 1 million batteries by 2025 is ambitious but achievable.”

In its own comments on the SEC report, Labor described home battery subsidisation by governments as part of the “next big step” in helping families to reduce their energy bills.

“This is good for consumers – giving them more control over their power bills, as well as lowering power prices and improving reliability for all Australians by reducing demand on the electricity grid in peak times,” Labor energy spokesperson Mark Butler said on Wednesday.

“Scott Morrison and the Coalition don’t have a plan to support the uptake of household batteries – instead all they have are baseless scare campaigns and no plans to bring down power bills for Australian households and businesses.

“The Liberals and Nationals have pushed up power prices and pollution by undermining investment in renewable energy and backing power privatisations – and their chaos and division means industry can’t adequately plan and invest in the future.

“Only Labor will deliver real action on climate change and lower pollution, lower power prices and build a stronger economy.”

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