Want A Battery? Then Don’t Claim The $2,250 Victorian Solar Rebate

Victorian solar panel rebate vs. battery rebate

Hey Victorians, do you want the $2,250 panel rebate or the $4839 battery rebate?

Update 17 May 2019: Solar Victoria have provided us with two clarifications

  1. The VIC battery rebate is capped at 1,000 per year for 10 years. So there is a chance you won’t get it even if eligible. Bear that in mind if you decide not to claim the VIC panel rebate.
  2. You can pay a deposit before you apply for your rebate – but it is recommended that your installer confirms, in writing, that it will be refunded if you don’t get the rebate.

At the moment the Victorian solar industry is at a standstill. Phones that were ringing off the hook two weeks ago have fallen silent.

Victoria’s solar rebate1 has closed to new applications until July 1. Victorians who want solar panels cannot buy now and claim the rebate in July. They need to apply for the rebate on or after July 1, then get approved, then pay the deposit, then get the solar power system installed. If they don’t do everything in that order, the Victorian bureaucrats will not pay out their rebate.

About the only thing that can be done before July 1 is get quotes for solar.

Yes, I know this is going to sound very self-serving, but getting quotes now is a good idea. At least if you have a valid quote come July 1, you can be all ready to get your rebate application in first thing Monday July 1st.



A few details to note about applying for your VIC rebate on July 1.

The administration of the scheme is changing from Sustainability Victoria2 to the Department of Environment, Land, Water and Planning  (DELWP).

Here’s the new VIC rebate application process (as I understand it):

This can happen immediately:

1. Consumer goes to solar retailer for a quote

2. Retailer prepares quote. Gives quote to consumer and also uploads to DELWP solar rebate portal.

This can happen from July 1:

3. The consumer jumps onto the DELWP solar rebate portal, runs through the application process and uploads a copy of their quote. Their chosen retailer should guide them through the application process.

4. The portal will process the consumer’s application in real time providing the uploaded documents all check out.

5. If the consumer is accepted as eligible, the consumer and their retailer will be advised of eligibility and retailer is free to install. 

6. After installation, the consumer will pay the retailer the system price with VIC rebate deducted. 

7. Post-installation, the retailer uploads Certificate of Compliance, final invoice and other documentation to DEWLP portal.

8. DEWLP bureaucrats ensure all the documents are valid and match up. Payment to retailer is authorised. Payments will be issued 1st and 15th of every month.

(phew – this scheme sounds expensive to administer!)


 

Why You Might NOT Want To Claim The VIC Solar Panel Rebate

If you haven’t already had the rebate approved, you’d have to be crazy to install solar power before July 1, and pay an extra $2,250 wouldn’t you?

Not necessarily.

Hello Victoria’s Battery Rebate!

On July 1 another rebate opens for applications: the Victorian battery rebate.

It is worth 50% of the cost of a battery or $4,839 : whichever is lowest.

Here’s the kicker: you can have either the solar panel rebate or the solar battery rebate. You can’t have both.

So if you have your heart set on buying solar and a battery there is no need to wait until July 1 for the solar panel rebate. You can install the solar power system now, add the battery later and (if you are eligible) get the $4,839 battery rebate after July 1.

In fact, if you claim the VIC solar panel rebate, you’ll be $2,589 worse off because you’ll lose the more generous battery rebate.

The question then, for anyone who is undecided about batteries is: ‘should you claim the Victorian battery rebate or the VIC solar panel rebate?’

Let me be very clear here. If your main motivation is saving money then, even though it is less generous, the Victoria’s solar panel rebate will save you more than the battery rebate.

Example Solar Panel Payback

For example, take a 6.6kW solar panel system that might sell right now for $6,000. After the VIC solar panel rebate that drops to $3,750 (assuming the rebate stays at $2,250 – it may be reduced). The payback will depend on electricity usage patterns, but will typically be from 2-4 years.

Example Battery Payback

If you buy a good value 9-10 kWh battery-only system (for example an Alpha ESS, Redback or LG Chem) you’d pay around $11,000 right now for the retrofitted battery system. After Victoria’s battery rebate, that drops to $6,161. If you consistently used 8kWh per night, pay 25c for electricity and earn a 12c feed-in tariff, your daily benefit would be 8 x $0.13 = $1.04 a day, or $380 per year.

Your simple payback based on current tariffs would be over 16 years.

This would improve if feed-in tariffs dropped and electricity prices increased. But clearly a battery subsidised by Victoria’s battery rebate is a much worse return than a solar power system using the VIC solar panel rebate – despite the larger handout.

But People Buy Batteries For Lots Of Reasons!

Perhaps the poor economics don’t scare you off. That’s cool. You may want a battery for other reasons. Usually these are environmental, techno-geekery and backup.

Unfortunately home batteries are an environmental negative at the moment.

But perhaps you are a geek: “I want the cool technology!”. That’s as good a reason as any. That’s why I’ve got one.

And finally, for backup. The price you put on backup is up to you. It is pretty cool though when your suburb is blacked out and your house is the only one with the lights on.

I discovered this for myself when cycling home the other day into my blacked out street:

If you are planning to buy a solar battery for backup or geekery – it makes sense to get Victoria’s battery rebate – which means you must forfeit the Victorian solar panel rebate.

If that includes you – then please consider buying your solar power system before July 1st. You’ll still get a generous federal ‘solar rebate’ to help pay for the solar panels and you are likely to get a very good deal before July 1st (it’s a buyer’s market in Victoria at the moment!). But most importantly you’ll be supporting a local solar company whose phones have stopped ringing and could really use some business right now.

Footnotes

  1. was $2,250 or 50% off your solar power system whichever is lowest – but may be reduced from July 1
  2. A fun fact: about 10 years ago someone at Sustainability Victoria threatened to sue me for copyright infringement. My crime? Republishing some appliance efficiency data in a more useful format
About Finn Peacock

I'm a Chartered Electrical Engineer, Solar and Energy Efficiency nut, dad, and founder of SolarQuotes.com.au. My last "real job" was working for the CSIRO in their renewable energy division.

Comments

  1. AdamAnt says

    You forgot to add in the “This can happen from July 1” list that the DELWP solar rebate portal will probably crash a few minutes after opening due to overloaded servers.

  2. Ray Havill says

    Another great example of a well intentioned but not well thought through Government scheme.

    Notable that battery prices have risen since the rebates have been handed out, certainly in Qld anyway.

    How painful for the Solar industry in Victoria to have to wait 2 months to get back on a roll.

    Does nothing to help the consumers for suppliers to be subject to boom bust demand periods,

    Just do not understand why they want to proliferate uneconomic toxic chemical batteries when fully recyclable, non toxic supercapacitors are already being made that can deliver 3c/kWh storage over a 40 year lifetime.

    So many of these schemes just put money in the pockets of manufacturers when prices are raised when it would have been better to fund battery development, especially to support grid level storage for solar farms and wind farms.

    • “non toxic supercapacitors are already being made that can deliver 3c/kWh storage over a 40 year lifetime”

      Could you please provide any links for this product? It sounds too good to be true. 3c/kWh sounds as a non-science fiction. Even $33/kWh is impossible.

      Thank you. Tim

      • Just to put that in perspective, that would be 3c/kWh over all the cycles of the capacitor over 40 years, not 3c/kWh of capacity. I don’t know what assumptions they made, but at one cycle a day over 40 years that’s $438 per kWh of capacity which still sounds very cheap, but at least is not in the realms of complete impossibility.

        As you said though, claims like that should come with a link to an actual product that can be purchased so we can evaluate it ourselves. For all I know they might be assuming multiple cycles a day which puts a completely different perspective on the cost.

  3. Yes it does look bureaucracy may have added a few more hoops to the process. I had my panels installed in September 2018 and didn’t have to get the pre approval code that is now needed before installation. Mind you, there were all sorts of problems uploading documents and getting communication from Solar Victoria in a timely manner. Thankfully after a slew of complaints and some media involvement, the rebates started flowing and i received mine suddenly in Feb 2019. I can see that the July 1 restart date would put a brake on solar installers and only able to work on previously approved systems for the next 7-8 weeks. I commend the state governments program, but it’s off to a rough start that I hope will settle and continue in our transition. I’m hoping a battery rebate may be expanded in a few years to everyone in Victoria.

  4. Thank you, Martin. You confirmed my suspicions.
    It looks like a very dodgy mathematics to cover up extremely high purchase cost. When I built my off-grid system I paid $11,000 for 20kWh of lithium batteries (cells plus management system). That makes $550 per kWh and that was in 2014. So, supercapacitors do not look cheap compared to batteries even by those creative calculations.
    When I google I get “Sirius Energy Storage Super Capacitor Module 3.55kWh, 48V – Kilowatt Labs $4,950.00” That is $1,394 per kWh – much more expensive than any batteries.
    And I don’t need a product to last for 40 years – I don’t expect to live that long.

    • Tim – just so you know everyone is questioning the Sirius – it’s not really super capacitors as claimed but rather everything points to them being lithium titanate batteries, with maybe some built in small super capacitors. Not surprising as although $1394 per kWh sounds expensive, for super capacitors it would actually be extraordinarily cheap.
      Where did you get 20kWh for $11K? Sounds cheap for Australia

  5. “If you consistently used 8kWh per night, pay 25c for electricity and earn a 12c feed-in tariff, your daily benefit would be 8 x $0.13 = $1.04 a day, or $380 per year.”

    Sorry I don’t understand why you subtracted 12c feed in – at night a solar system doesn’t produce so nothing to feed in, therefore the power costs 25c per kWh at night – and if you had a battery big enough to cover a night, then you would save 25c x 8kWh = $2 per night.

    • Ronald Brakels says

      You have to put energy into the battery from somewhere.

      • Ronald, yes of course. Clearly it comes from a solar array, the energy from which doesn’t have a cost so therefore it would save $2 per night.

        • Ronald Brakels says

          But it does have a cost. If your solar feed-in tariff is 12 cents then you are forgoing the 12 cents you would have received if you had sent that electricity into the grid.

  6. I have solar in the home I purchased, so the rebates were done a long time ago.
    Can I get a battery rebate

    • Ronald Brakels says

      If you live in Victoria then from July the first you can get a battery rebate. Unfortunately, batteries will not save any normal household money at the moment even with the rebate. Victoria’s electricity prices are too low and battery prices too high for it to make financial sense.

      But if you want a battery for non-financial reasons you can get quotes now and go ahead from the 1st of July.

    • Hi there,
      Could you let me know if the battery rebate applies to people who are completely off grid?
      I am off grid and have 12 year old batteries on their way out that need replacing this winter.

      Regards,
      Sandy

      • Ronald Brakels says

        Hi Sandy

        Victoria Solar says details on the battery rebate will be available shortly. If it is like South Australia’s battery subsidy off-grid homes won’t be eligible and it won’t apply to lead-acid batteries.

        • Jack Watson says

          Not enough of a take. ……And again say stand-alone L/A batteries @ well under $2 per Ah ~ with a 3-year warranty* ~ are as good a proposition as ANYTHING else ~ and better than most.
          * which, properly looked-after, will return at least 5 years of useful life.
          Anybody who’d pay for a dodgy service (loaded with escape-clauses) they don’t need is seriously deranged.

  7. Keep in mind the 3rd rebate option available (as in instead of the PV or battery), solar hot water rebate. I would be curious of the SQ POV on the value of solar hot water with the rebate as I have already installed PV (April 2018 – that was a bit of a bitter pill) and not interested in a battery.

  8. Darren Hocking says

    video suggests your cycle light needs an upgrade, so you can see and be seen.

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