Registrations have opened for the ACT’s Solar for Apartments Program, offering up to $100,000 in grant funds and access to zero-interest loans to install rooftop solar at apartment complexes.
The ACT government says eligible owners corporations can now apply for the funding, 50 per cent of which will be in the form of a grant and the other 50% a repayable, zero-interest loan through Brighte.
“Most people living in apartments so far haven’t been able to access the benefits of solar power, and this program will help to change that,” said ACT energy minister Shane Rattenbury in a statement on Friday.
“It makes good sense to use available roof space to power our city and I look forward to seeing more solar on apartments as this program is delivered.”
The program is co-funded by the federal and ACT governments. The federal funds come from the Albanese government’s “solar banks” component of its Powering Australia Plan, which promised to cover 50% of the capital costs to get rooftop solar onto those households effectively “locked out” of the market – including renters and apartment dwellers.
For the ACT government, the incentives for solar apartments are part of an $80 million boost for the Sustainable Household Scheme in the 2023-24 ACT budget.
Much of that $80 million will be used to fund incentives home energy upgrades beyond solar, including switching out old gas appliances for efficient electric ones.
The portion of funding dedicated to solar in this budget has been restricted to homeowners who “most need government support,” the ACT has said.
Much of the cost of shared solar systems comes down to extra technology and installation measures – necessary to share the energy generated by the panels between the apartment residents.
There are technologies to do this – including from highly successful Australian company Allume Energy, which in 2019 allowed 52 low-income households in an apartment block to share solar and storage – but the costs and logistics can be prohibitive.
ACT chief minister Andrew Barr says he hopes to see more than 2,100 households benefit from the scheme, including from an up to 35 per cent reduction in electricity bills for apartments dwellers in the nation’s capital.
“This program supports our commitment to being a global leader in climate action and allows apartment households to share in the benefits of solar,” Barr said in a statement on Friday.