SA Battery Rebate Buzz – ABC Radio Adelaide Discussion

SA battery rebate discussion
SolarQuotes founder and author of the Good Solar Guide Finn Peacock joined Sonya Feldhoff on ABC Radio Adelaide’s Afternoons program yesterday to discuss the South Australian Government’s battery subsidy.

Sonya’s first question to Finn was whether the $100 million budgeted for the Home Battery Scheme was money well spent. Finn said while it was great news for consumers looking to buy a solar battery, for the purpose of getting electricity prices down and environmental benefits, there were better options.

Finn believes the money would have been better spent on renewable generation, which will reduce wholesale costs, and specifically heavily subsidising solar panels for rental rooftops.

“If you own your own home, you can get solar and get a 3 or 4 year payback in SA. If you’re a renter in a home without a solar system; you’re pretty much stuck with high electricity prices,” said Finn.

Moving on to the mechanics of the program, Finn covered most of the eligibility details of the subsidy reported here and some of the issues with the SA battery rebate, based on information currently available.

The segment also took calls from South Australians with questions about the rebate.

Battery Payback And Savings

A caller asked how long would it take to achieve payback on a battery system with the benefit of the rebate/subsidy factored in.

A 10kWh battery costs around $10,000, so that would be reduced to $5,000 after the subsidy for most households. Bearing in mind that such a battery can store around $4.00 worth of electricity, that points to payback of around 3.5 years assuming ideal conditions where the full 10 kilowatt-hours is being stored and used each day.

However, Finn pointed out an issue often overlooked is the loss of feed in tariff on the electricity that is stored – so the value of that stored electricity would be around $2.00 based on a feed-in tariff of 20c, effectively doubling the payback period.

Again, that’s based on ideal conditions. Unfavourable weather will take its toll on some days – such as Tuesday in Adelaide when the interview took place as skies were overcast for much of the day. Added to that are system inefficiencies and battery degradation, which begins as soon as a storage system is put into service.

While battery systems are accompanied by a 10-year warranty, worked into most of these warranties is an allowable degradation rate. This something to check on when shopping for solar battery storage and will have an impact on payback.

Legacy Feed In Tariffs And Batteries

A couple of other callers were lucky enough to be on legacy solar feed in tariffs. These were based on higher rates in order to help boost solar power uptake in SA. South Australians who installed systems before the 30th of September 2011 could lock in a 44 cent feed-in tariff until the 30th of June 2028. It also appears some of these people are getting even more – 60.3 cents in the case of one caller, which would be the legacy FiT + retailer contribution (so it’s worth it for solar owners to shop around for energy deals).

As to whether it would make financial sense for this group of South Australians to install batteries, the answer is quite simple – definitely not. They will actually lose money and that’s something the SA Government should be making  very clear, as batteries will be of special interest to these solar owners.

Get In Quick?

Finn also pointed out there’s probably no need to rush a battery purchase decision. As SQ’s Ronald recently mentioned, AGL has had dirt-cheap deals on good quality batteries for some time in South Australia, but only appears to have moved around 900 systems.

Moving House

Another point made during the segment is homeowners need to consider how long they intend staying in their premises. On average, Australians move once every seven years and while a battery system may be easier to relocate than a solar power system, it’s still quite an undertaking. It’s not clear if this will even be permitted under the rebate scheme.

You can listen to the full ABC Radio Adelaide Afternoons segment here (starts at 1 hr 3 minutes, 15 seconds and runs for approximately 21 minutes).

About Michael Bloch

Michael caught the solar power bug after purchasing components to cobble together a small off-grid PV system in 2008. He's been reporting on Australian and international solar energy news ever since.


  1. Peter Schoneweiss says

    Whatever happened to ZEN energy proposed capacitor banks .It seemed like a good idea ,or was it killed off by stupidity and greed by lead acid / lithium .Governments are too slow ,lived in the Aldinga Arts Eco Village for 3 years ,had to get neighbours permission to build so as to protect your rights to sunlight.

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