NSW Battery Rebate: How To Triumph Despite The Confusion

So you’ve heard about NSW offering an incentive between $1600 and $2400 to install a home battery. It’s great news but if you’re confused about exactly how this battery rebate works, don’t worry, so is the solar industry. Installer angst is palpable; but read on and I’ll explain there’s opportunities to make this work for everyone.

What’s Good About It?

The aim is to lower the cost of entry for people to buy solar batteries. Great.

For years, the whole energy industry has known we need great gobs storage to smooth out the ebb and overwhelming flow of cheap renewable electricity. Large scale deep storage on seasonal timelines is difficult, but batteries are well suited for shifting sunshine from one day to the next.

Having them behind the meter is energy efficient and will lower costs for augmenting the grid & building new generators. Everyone wins when you leverage those with the money to buy a battery.

Are These Batteries Lithium Or Unobtainium?

To qualify, the battery must:

  • endure an ambient temperature range of -10°C to 50°C,
  • offer a 10-year warranty, provide a throughput of 3.65 MWh per kWh,
  • and retain at least 70% capacity.

Those are staunch numbers, however in a quick search I couldn’t find a battery that ticked all the boxes.

It appears that the NSW Government has failed to consult the industry they’re supposed to be helping.

At least they’re trying to ensure the scheme isn’t flooded with poor quality batteries. Unfortunately, we may find that the cheap suppliers are the ones willing to fudge their numbers to get on the program, while more conservatively rated options remain ineligible.

Installers have raised a working group and are hoping this scheme will be modified but that’s no sure bet.

Home Building Compensation Fund Insurance Is Mandatory

Building work over $20,000 means the contractor must have Home Building Compensation Fund (HBCF) insurance. This scheme compensates you if your installer goes bust before completing the job. This requirement will both discourage dodgy operators and cover their disappearing acts.

If you want to check whether a NSW installer has HBCF insurance, have a look at their licence on the Service NSW site:

service nsw hbcf

How To Take Advantage Of The NSW Battery Rebate Now?

Despite some electricians hibernating in winter when the roof is slippery & interest is low, this scheme may damage NSW solar businesses in the short term, while everyone waits for the scheme to start.

But homeowners don’t need to sit on their hands. There’s plenty that they can do between now and November.

1) Move Early And Beat The Rush

If you need a 3 phase upgrade, an EV provision or perhaps your switchboard wants smartening up, 5 months offers time to finance, design and specify the system properly.

‘Battery Ready’ isn’t just marketing. These days, great value hybrid options are available, with inverters offering software upgrades paid once you decide on a battery.

2) Measure Up Your Consumption

Whether you’re starting fresh, augmenting or replacing your old solar, knowledge is power. Installing a consumption meter like CatchControl will give you real data, so you don’t have to guess what size battery is best for your place.1

As an example:

  • start with some quotes to find the right installer
  • tidy up the switchboard
  • add a Catch Control with relay to power your hot water service

This initial investment not only provides information to help you identify efficiency measures and the right retail plan, but it also becomes an integral part of your new solar and battery once the system is decided on and installed.

3) Add New Solar Now

Once you have a decent-sized solar system, there will be a lot of sunshine to capture between now and November. Remember that no one ever complains about having too much power; “decent” means as much as will fit on the roof. You want surplus energy to charge a battery.

With the right design, the battery install in November could be as simple as your electrician wheeling in, plonking down, plugging in & claiming your battery rebate.

What’s Bad About The NSW Battery Rebate?

I must do some ranting here for context.

The solar industry has been historically volatile. Established operators will tell you it’s called the solar coaster for a reason. In the early days, margins were high, wholesalers were few, and everything involved waiting—whether it was for stock or for customer approval for a federal government grant.

I vividly recall a staff meeting when the minister unexpectedly ended the $8,000 Solar Homes and Communities Program rebate three weeks early. We dropped everything and headed for our nearest prospects, getting papers signed and mailed by 5:00 PM. While we had work booked, the replacement solar incentive was yet to pass parliament.

Running a capital-intensive business is tough when you’re at the mercy of exchange rates and power prices. It’s even harder when there seems to be no clear plan from the top.

Solar Installers Are Grumpy

While farmers are generally unhappy with the weather, solar installers are generally unhappy with government. And they have every right to be. Unlike rain, it shouldn’t take divine intervention to learn from years of industry input and climate wars.

Right now NSW looks like an episode of Utopia. They have an announcable; which apparently starts a 25 year program. Yet the authorities overseeing the scheme haven’t even organised their compliance structure. Worse still, the available information is so arcane, full of acronyms and impenetrable jargon, it does my head in trying to read it, even with 15 years solar expertise.

I defy anyone to read all these Acronyms and tell me they feel smarter.

What’s Really Bad About It?

November is 5 months away.

Whatever interest there was in batteries has been iced for the duration. Even people who’ve paid deposits and booked installs will now be asking for delays when really expensive stock is already on hand.

Worse still, November is already solar season. The used sportzball stars will be pushing the fact that solar rebates (routinely) drop in the new year while everyone else wants things finished before Xmess. The timing for this new wave of demand is nonsensical.

And early adopters are excluded! An existing battery must not be installed at the same National Metering Identifier(s) so those who have the will or wherewithal to invest more, can’t.

One might ask how difficult it is to abolish a supply in NSW and connect a new NMI.

Generating Certificates May Generate Distrust

The scheme involves installing approved equipment, under the guidance of approved companies, who create approved certificates, which are then bought by approved participants. Of course these certificates are tradeable, so spare a thought for the raft of brokers trying to make an honest living.

PRC volatility graph

PRCs are volatile

In Our Next Article

We’ll explore the other component announced in this incentive scheme, a payment designed to put your battery on a virtual power plant, one that could work well with the recently announced and very controversial Ausgrid Two Way Tariff.

If you’d like more detail without the jargon, Billy Davis of Tru Blu Solar Co has a simplified explainer.  He’s knocked the NSW Government’s info into a cocked hat.

Footnotes

  1. If you can wait a couple of weeks, we’re about to launch our ‘Add A Battery Calculator’ which will let you upload your smart meter data to see which battery best suits your home’s most recent 12 months’ imports and exports.
About Anthony Bennett

Anthony joined the SolarQuotes team in 2022. He’s a licensed electrician, builder, roofer and solar installer who for 14 years did jobs all over SA - residential, commercial, on-grid and off-grid. A true enthusiast with a skillset the typical solar installer might not have, his blogs are typically deep dives that draw on his decades of experience in the industry to educate and entertain. Read Anthony's full bio.

Comments

  1. Madden Broadbent says

    Hi,
    I read the CISRO were doing tests on home batteries, what was the outcome and how can it help me choose what battery to install?
    Thanks

  2. How does anyone know if I have a battery already installed and use this scheme to add a module or two to say, a byd HMV system?
    There are no records via certificates like there are for panels.
    So how would anyone other than the installer know?
    If the installer comes in, disconnects the existing system and then “installs” it and the extra modules?
    Don’t understand how they will regulate adding more storage using this system.
    This may lead to a similar issue to dodgy warranties so a battery qualifies. Dodgy installers may be more happy to fudge “new l” installs?
    If there is a way that my nmi identifies that I have a battery, how? Was the installer supposed to report it to ???

    • Anthony Bennett says

      Good question Matthew,

      If the installer has put solar in and claimed STC credits, then the app they use to generate the certificates asks for a battery serial number… if they selected the option to begin with.

      Most inverters have 133% overdrive of panels connected… going to 150 or 200% means the form must have a battery serial number.

    • Going by the explainer provided…

      https://trublusolarco.com.au/nsw-solar-battery-rebate/

      If you scroll down to Part 1 Eligibility: (near the bottom)
      “There must not be an existing battery installed at the same National Metering Identifier(s).”

      Yeah, I was looking to do the same thing and add additional battery capacity. But it looks like thats not possible. The question is, can we look up whats at our NMI?

  3. I suggest no battery will be able to deliver a throughput of 3.65 MWh per kWh over the 10 year warranty period unless it experiences zero storage degradation over that 10 years.
    e.g Tesla Powerwall 13.5 Kwh fully cycled every day for 10 years with no degradation = 3.652 Mwh throughput per KWh of battery storage over those 10 years.
    If 70% capacity remains after 10 years (per warranty) and we assume degradation occurs at a linear rate (same amount each day), then we achieve 3.104 Mwh throughput per KWh of battery storage over 10 years.
    The Solaredge 9.7 Kwh battery achieves exactly the same throughput figures.
    Perhaps I’ve misunderstood the eligibility critera or perhaps my woeful Excel & maths skills have let me down (or both) or, perhaps, the NSW Govt in their haste forgot to factor in battery physics in their eligibility requirements ?

    • John Mitchell says

      Well battery deg is never linear. It tends to be more at the beginning and then flatten out. The way I read “must be capable of” is more a theoretical thing. They aren’t saying you have to put 3.65MWh throughput and practically, not many will. Technically the battery can’t deliver the full 13.5kWh without recharging because there are losses (I believe most of the Powerwalls brand new actually have about 14kWh so maybe they can).

      Bottom line I think they used the PW2 as a baseline for the scheme and just did a theoretical calculation based off the warranty, not taking into account any real world degradation or losses. Because they are politicians not scientists!

    • I think there is a typo in the rule, it should state 3.65MWh per kW, not per kWh. As that is the realistic figure to achieve.

      Why? The minimum battery installed is 2kWh. Assuming 5kW is maximum power, that is 10kWh per day, over the year = 3650 kWh or 3.65MWh. Coincidence?

      Based on that rule:-
      So, for the Powerwall2

      3.65MWh * 5 (kW) = 18.25MWh

      PW2 capacity is warranted for 37.8MWh
      13kWh * 365 * 10 = 49.275MWh @ 100% cycling, possible maximum
      70% warranted capacity = 34.492MWh

      These specs are well within the 3.65MWh per kW of the battery (at 18.25MWh), assuming the rule is based on 3.65MWh per kW of battery, not per kWh as it doesn’t make sense using energy per energy (MWh per kWh) vs energy (MWh) per power (kW)

      Thoughts?

      I think someone needs to contact the NSW Government to ascertain that ruling of 3.65MWh per kWh should really say 3.65MWh per kW.

  4. Thanks for that info . Didn’t know how that worked.
    Our system had battery and panels to take it up to 150% added well after initial instal. Complicating that is the modules are about to be swapped to hvm as they installed hvs, not what I paid for. Will find out if it was reported.
    Guess the serial number used would be the on the BCU so that would not change.
    Maybe I will have to “sell” it and buy it back with an extra module or 2 added in Nov.

  5. So if I want to upsize my dinky 9kw battery to support a VPP or Amber I get nothing from the state gov? Owch.

  6. Michael Paine says

    “An existing battery must not be installed at the same National Metering Identifier(s) so those who have the will or wherewithal to invest more, can’t…”
    That answers my question in a related post – does the rebate apply if I add a second Powerwall 2 to my home? No!

  7. So can we add extra panels to an existing Inverter/Solar Rebate system (NSW)? Where the inverter has the capacity to take more? :/

    Also, the New ‘Add A Battery Calculator’ sounds like a great tool & addition to the site! 🙂

    • Anthony Bennett says

      Hi Paul,

      We have a series of “how to add solar” articles coming shortly. It really depends on the age of your system.

      The NSW incentive is for a battery whereas STC credits (the rebate) on solar is a federal scheme.

      Stay tuned

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