Solar Victoria expands battery rebate scheme to pave way for VPPs

The Victorian government has flagged plans to expand its battery storage scheme, to pave the way for the establishment of virtual power plants made up of the state’s growing number of home solar and storage systems.

In its latest notice to market, published late last week, Solar Victoria said it would begin encouraging the aggregation of batteries funded under the Solar Homes Program to broaden the reach of the benefits of battery storage.

As it stands, Victoria’s solar battery rebate currently offers a rebate of $4,838 on a range of CEC approved battery systems for households in more than 250 postcodes across the state.

Starting July 01, the notice said the rebate amount would be reduced to $4,174 and households would be encouraged to participate in aggregation programs.

This would involve those houeholds agreeing to allow a power company to access stored energy from their battery system during peak energy events.

“Aggregation will increasingly become a vital tool to enable the increased visibility of energy usage across the grid, enabling technology to be deployed in key areas where there may be already high penetration of solar PV, and resulting in the increased reliability and security of the grid,” the notice says.

Already the rebate scheme requires subsidised battery energy storage systems to be on Solar Victoria’s Approved Battery List which are comprised of energy storage solutions considered ‘Virtual Power Plant (VPP) capable.’

The move follows in the footsteps of the South Australian Liberal government, whose hugely successful home battery scheme has so far resulted in the establishment of seven virtual power plant projects throughout the state, via “aggregators” including AGL, ShineHub, Simply Energy, EnergyAustralia, Stoddart Group, sonnen, and Tesla.

South Australia’s Home Battery Scheme initially offered a $6000 discount on energy storage, but just last week reduced the maximum subsidy to $4000, sparking a last-minute rush of more than 5,000 applications to the already popular scheme.

Uptake of discounted batteries has been much slower in Victoria, but is expected to begin to take off more as the state’s booming number of solar households look to get better value from their rooftop generation investments, and as battery costs come down.

Solar Victoria hopes to sweeten the battery deal even further by encouraging participation in virtual power plants.

“By expanding the battery program to include approved aggregators, Solar Victoria aims to maximise the benefits of solar batteries and support participating households to realise additional energy savings,” the notice says.

“By supporting the roll-out of aggregation programs we will work in partnership with providers of aggregation services to ensure additional benefits to non-solar households and the future of our energy grid.”

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