Webinar Recap On Victorian Solar Homes Program With The Smart Energy Council

Smart Energy Council CEO John Grimes provided an outline of industry feedback on the impact of the Victoria Solar Homes Program provided to Victorian Energy Minister at a meeting on Tuesday 16 July.

The webinar included input from local solar suppliers Peter and Elias and also outlined the next steps for industry and consumers.

After gathering case studies regarding the Solar Homes Program from solar installers, retailers, customers who had received or waiting for the rebate and those who essentially gave up due to the process being so difficult, John Grimes went and spoke to the Minister of Solar Homes to reiterate the negative impact the Solar Homes Program has had on the industry and impel the urgency for change prior to August 1st when the solar PV rebate will re-open.

One customer stated that to be able to take a picture to match her passport photo in the application process she was required to take her glasses off but then had to somehow fit her face in the outline on the smart phone screen when she was practically blind. After the image wasn’t accepted, she was prompted to have her image certified by doctor, police officer or chemist etc. For this certified person to be approved as a someone to sign off on her proof of identity they also needed to upload their proof of identity.

Another stated “The process was more difficult than securing a mortgage”

Loss of work and jobs were a high concern in the webinar with companies who would usually secure 80 installations a month, drastically dropping to 1 in the past month and for a customer who did not apply for the Solar Victoria Rebate.

After discussing concerns like this and more with the Minister there was no indication that Solar Victoria is inclined to change the number, rates or criteria of the rebates, however was open to discuss transitional funding for solar providers struggling with the program (no clarity on what this would involve, possibly assistance becoming a CEC retailer?).

In response to this NO ACTION reply the Smart Energy Council wanted to get feedback back from the industry (those on the webinar) whether they were in favour of hitting the ground running with a strong campaign led by Smart Energy Council.

95% of those on the webinar were in favour of this and action for the campaign will commence immediately. The Smart Energy Council is set to create a plan of action and key changes in which they will rally with what seems will be backed by the entire solar industry in Victoria.

Some immediate action The Smart Energy Council are asking for is those in the industry to start contacting their local Minister’s stating how the program has negatively impacted them and the industry.

Some suggestions for program changes that were thrown around in the webinar were;

  • Eliminating the entire Solar Homes process and simplifying it so that any demographic can apply with ease
  • Halving the amount of the rebate and doubling the number of rebates

On Thursday 25th July (next week) in Melbourne the Smart Energy Council will be holding a conference (venue yet to be confirmed) where they will have the Plan of Action in place and provide more information on the campaign.

The webinar in now available on the Smart Energy Council Website.

View Webinar

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Understanding Batteries

Off-Grid Systems

For some households a battery system can be of great benefit and minimise a home’s reliance on the grid. However, it’s important to understand for a battery to be useful your solar system needs to be generating excess energy for the battery to store, which you can then use at night or when the sun is not out.

When selecting a battery, you’ll want to invest in a system that is most suited to your home and can drive the best return on investment (ROI). Despite a larger upfront cost, a higher quality battery may significantly increase your ROI.

    Battery systems start from $6,000 and costs can vary greatly based on the following factors:

  1. Cycle Life-Time

    The number of times a battery can fully charge and discharge.

  2. Battery Power (kW)

    How fast it can be charged or discharged.

  3. Storage Capacity (kWh)

    The maximum amount of energy a battery system can store.

  4. Battery Management System (BMS)

    An electronic ‘smart’ system that gathers data and manages the battery ensuring it does not overload or operate outside of its safe functioning zone..

  5. Inverter

    Battery systems require their own inverter if your solar system does not have a hybrid inverter.

  6. 'All-In-One Unit’

    A system which includes the battery, BMS and an inverter all in one unit.

  7. Warranty

    Length of time or cycles the battery system is under guarantee.

  8. Blackout Protection/Backup

    It’s important to note this is not a common feature of a battery system and could cost thousands of dollars to include. Blackout protection not only requires additional components but also a specialised installation and rewiring. For grid-connected homes, the cost for blackout protection can outweigh the benefit.

Additionally, if your purpose for adding battery is to go Off-Grid and become completely independent from the grid you will need to ensure your solar system can generate enough energy to power your home and your battery system is large enough to store this energy. For homes in metro areas going Off-grid is not cost effective and is only recommended for those in remote areas with limited access to the grid. Off-grid solar systems with battery start at approximately $30,000.