SolarQuotes Vodcast Episode 23 – Rebate Rumblings And Battery Blather

Finn and Ronald discuss the recent Victorian solar rally, SA Home Battery Scheme progress, Tesla Powerwall 2 price drop, Ronald locking horns with SA’s Energy Minister, EV charging from home batteries and more.

Victorian Solar Rally Wrap-Up

00:31A rally organised by the Smart Energy Council in partnership with Solar Cutters held on the steps of State Parliament in Melbourne last Thursday was attended by an estimated crowd of 300 protesting the damage being wreaked by the Solar Homes PV rebate.

This wasn’t a case of a bunch of installers saying, “give us more money”. They were telling the government to keep its money, or to run the solar power rebate in a manner that doesn’t destroy the industry.

Finn was among the hundreds who attended the rally.

“It was a theme of absolute human tragedy. Installers getting up, taking the mic, telling us how their business is, how they’ve had to lay people off, how they don’t know if their businesses are going to survive,” says Finn. “And again, these guys, before August, before the first tranche of the rebate was announced, were going great. They didn’t need the rebate. It was a really nice stable industry and this rebate has completely screwed it over.”

The lack of Clean Energy Council participation in the rally didn’t go unnoticed, with Finn suggesting perhaps the CEC feels it is too “white collar” to be out on the streets shoulder-to-shoulder with, and standing up for, its members in such a public way.

“If there was anyone from the Clean Energy there. I apologise, but I didn’t see them,” said Finn. “I think for the CEC, perception is everything. Perception of them not being seen at protests, perception of them being, well, whatever they want to be perceived as.”

Finn says he doesn’t hold anything against the Victorian Government or Solar Victoria for making what has turned out to be a monumental mistake; but it’s what happens next that counts – fixing the situation. However, at this point it doesn’t seem the Victorian Government will take appropriate action.

SA Battery Subsidy Uptake Sluggish

5:22 – Figures released by the South Australian Government last week indicate only 2,300 battery subsidies have been approved so far under its Home Battery Scheme – and just 1,500 battery systems installed. The subsidies have been available since October last year and were launched to support the installation of 40,000 battery systems.

“Out of 40,000, that’s 3.75% of the total,” says Ronald. “How many you think they expected to have at this time? Bit of a flop.”

Finn and Ronald also discuss a recently published paper out of Uni SA that claimed batteries subsidised under the scheme can pay for themselves in certain circumstances – and the dangers this claim posed; particularly given a battery will not pay for itself within its warranty period in the scenario of an average family’s usage.

Tesla Powerwall 2 Price Drop

8:24 – The pair touch on recent news that Tesla Powerwall 2 has dropped in price – but the decrease was less than a quarter of the price hike Tesla whacked on in October last year; just prior to the commencement of the SA Home Battery scheme.

Worst And Best Reviews Of The Week

9:06 – As chosen by SolarQuotes team member Ned.

Worst review of the week – 2 years after installation, the reviewer’s solar power system failed – but the installation company wouldn’t respond until the Ombudsman stepped in. Even with the Ombudsman’s involvement, the customer continued to get the run-around. TheĀ  issue was inverter failure (Aerosharp) and the customer was told a new inverter could be installed – at the customer’s expense.

To add to the customer’s woes, after a storm it was discovered the installer had broken a tile and used Mastic to repair it. When the Mastic degraded, this resulted in water entering the roof space, which damaged the ceiling. We’d like to point out the solar company in question was not one of SQ’s pre-vetted installers.

Best review of the week – a big thumbs up to a small company in Byron Bay called Denby Energy (a SolarQuotes client) from a customer who said the process from quote to installation of his solar power system was fantastic and he would have no hesitation in recommending the company to anyone.

Ronald Vs. Dan van Holst Pellekaan

12:32 – Ronald recently attended a Home Battery Forum hosted by SA Energy Minister Dan van Holst Pellekaan. Ronald challenged the minister on his claims concerning Tesla Powerwall 2 pricing and battery payback. In a nutshell, Minister van Holst Pellekaan wasn’t able to provide any hard figures on the battery payback claim at the Forum. So, Ronald is following up his conversation with a letter to the Minister.

“Dear Dan Pellekaan,


I spoke with you on Monday the 15th of July at the Marion RSL.


I pointed out home batteries don’t pay themselves for normal families at the moment, even with the South Australian home battery subsidy. You said:


“I can assure you it does, it absolutely does.”


“It doesn’t work for everyone, but it definitely, definitely works. There’s no doubt about it.”


Clearly you have screwed up big time in your calculations. If you send me details on how you determined that batteries can save normal households money, I’ll take a look and let you know where you lot messed up. I suspect you are using figures for blended payback where the good returns from rooftop solar hides the poor or negative returns from batteries.


After I’ve shown you where you’ve gone wrong, you can correct your mistake and dedicate yourself to making sure no south Australian family buys a battery system that will only lose them money and potentially cause them serious financial harm.


Yours sincerely, Ronald Brakels”

No doubt Ronald will keep us posted if the Minister responds.

Charging Electric Vehicles From Home Batteries

16:53 -Some EV owners may be considering charging their electric cars from a home solar battery instead of the mains grid for financial and environmental reasons. It’s a great attitude, but not a great idea.

“In fact, overall, it’s better for the environment to send your electricity into the grid during the day and charge your electric car from the grid at night,” says Ronald. “This can change in the future, but for now, that’s the case. Even in places like South Australia where we’ve got lots of renewable energy; because 99% of our spare renewable energy, it gets sent to Victoria.”

It’s also cheaper to charge from the grid than from a home solar battery – find out more here.

Massive Large-Scale Battery For Port Pirie

19:52 – The mention of a 560 megawatt-hour large-scale battery project in a recent large-scale solar roundup post on SQ caught Finn’s eye.

“That’s massive. Huge. That’s five times the size of the Tesla big battery and coincidentally, that is almost exactly the equivalent of 40,000 Powerwalls,” said Finn.

(added note: not quite – closer to 4x – Tesla Big Battery is 100MW/129MWh. Proposed Port Pirie system is 140MW/560MWh)

Finn says having the equivalent of 40,000 Powerwall 2’s in one place that you have direct control of, you’re going to be able to use that much more efficiently than the distributed battery systems due to complete control over the charge and the discharge.

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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. This is not quite on the topics in the vodcast, but it does touch on rebates/subsidies.

    In the US, Enphase is offering at cost upgrades to IQ7/8 inverters for people with 2nd gen inverters:

    Is there any suggestion that will happen here – and if so, is it worth upgrading from an S-series inverter? (I have S230s)

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