Solar Wholesalers and Battery Storage – our stance<< Back
The recent battery subsidy announcement from the South Australian State Government has, as intended generated a lot of interest in residential battery storage here in SA.
From October this year, 40,000 South Australian households will have access to $100 million in State Government subsidies to pay for the installation of home battery systems.
There is also finance options available from the Commonwealth Government’s Clean Energy Finance Corporation. While the subsidy will be applied to the battery component only, households are able to apply for finance to assist with the purchase of new or additional solar panels as well as the battery system.
The subsidy is available to all South Australian households and scaled in line with the size of the home battery system being installed. Initially the subsidy available will be $500 per kWh of storage installed, capped at a maximum of $6000.
The Government expects the subsidy levels and the subsidy cap to reduce overtime, however this will depend on the uptake. The reality is there is $100,000,000 for 40,000 homes.
In South Australia there are only a limited number of companies that are able to install batteries and even fewer that are approved to install batteries under the scheme, most of these companies being quite small. If the government actually plans to reach 40,000 homes under this scheme this will take at least 12 months. There is no rush.
For the first 9 weeks (essentially until Christmas/New Year) only locally “assembled” or “manufactured” batteries are approved. Initially this was just Sonnen and now a couple of others in Alpha ESS and Eguana Technologies. SW have decided that none of these offerings are the best solution mainly due to costs, capability and business structure.
At SW we think that there is still no real available solution that will work without issues and just as importantly offer a positive financial return. For both consumer and SW satisfaction our advice is still to wait until battery technology matures and pricing reduces further. If you do not agree with our stance and choose to press on and have a battery installed please take extra care when selecting a battery and just as importantly the company to install it.
Why are you not already a system provider?
I touched on why we have no plan on installing the batteries that are currently approved under the Scheme above and the main reason I isolate is cost. As it stands today, even with the full $6,000 offering from the government it is still almost impossible to install a residential battery with a positive financial return. In short none of us here have installed a battery on our own homes yet. Also, again being honest we have limited experience in installing lithium batteries on grid, everyone does.
Three of our fully employed electricians are CEC accredited battery installers and we have also teamed up with the most highly regarded off grid battery installation company here in SA to help with design and installation. So there is a huge argument that we are probably the best prepared to take this on as I am sure there are not many other companies in SA with our CV. We have installed only 25 on grid lithium solutions prior to the announcement with mixed results. What we do know is it is absolutely crucial to get the design of both the PV and the battery spot on.
The process to become a system provider is relatively straight forward should you fit all the criteria (we do).
There is currently also a considerable cost for us so we have held off until we are ready and happy with an offering. Approved installers are listed on the Governments website and again we don’t want this until we are ready to be contacted and help people out with design and pricing.
Our priority here at SW is to ensure we offer a product that we know and we can support. I can not yet say this for any on grid battery. We are working on it! We are also changing our internal structure to give us more technical knowledge in the office for design and support. These things take time, training and money.
Is SW going to participate?
Yes, we think so, when the timing is right.
From January on many more batteries will be approved to be installed under the scheme and as issues are encountered and rectified the products and product knowledge will only improve.
At the moment we see LG Chem and BYD as our preferred battery solutions, teamed with either a SMA Sunny Boy Storage, Victron charge controllers and probably SolarEdge for new hybrid installations.
When we find the right product and the right financial conditions to be happy to offer that product, we will again contact all interested parties.
The recent announcement from the Federal Labor Government may change the the landscape again, should they be elected.
“Federal Labor will today announce a national target of 1 million battery storage systems in Australia by 2025. A Shorten Labor Government will back the target with a Household Battery Program, which will offer a $2,000 rebate for 100,000 households on incomes of less than $180,000 per year, as well as low-cost loans for batteries.”
The desired functionality and affordability is not far away. I think the day will come in the next 6 to 12 months. The upcoming Federal election will play a huge role in the future of battery storage.
Thanks for both your interest and your patience. We are just making sure we get this right, we want systems that work and happy customers.<< Back