Will Abbott take Spain’s lead and start taxing solar battery storage?

tony abbott with wind turbines

Tony Abbott finally admits what we all knew. He despises renewables. What will be his next move? A Spanish style “battery Storage Tax”?

The government’s war on renewables went into overdrive this week. The nation shook its collective head in disbelief as we heard the prime minister say to Alan Jones, notorious shock jock and confirmed anti-renewable energy advocate, that wind energy farms were “visually awful”.

After gloating that he had reduced the funding available to wind farms, the prime minister told a clearly jubilant Jones that he disliked wind farms and appeared more than happy to denigrate the industry in front of listeners.

“I frankly would have liked to have reduced the number a lot more,” said the PM. “But we got the best deal we could, and if we hadn’t had a deal, we would have been stuck with even more of these things… I’ve been up close to these wind farms, there’s no doubt that not only are they visually awful but they make a lot of noise.”

Two things stick out:

  1. Wind energy has been an integral part of the Australian rural landscape since settlement.
  2. Where else would you find the nation’s leader talking of a growing national industry in such disparaging terms?

This reference to “noise” of course was an old fashioned dog whistle pitch at those who believe the ultrasound emitted by wind turbines causes health problems. This despite an overwhelming amount of evidence to the contrary.

Indeed in a recent appearance before the Senate the Association of Australian Acoustic Consultants (AAAC) told the hearing that, “To date, all of the studies have suggested that there is no reaction to that level of infrasound.”

Never let the facts get in the way of good old fashioned mud slinging session though…

So much for wind energy but what of other renewables — such as solar energy — that promise to anchor clean energy generation in this country. Where will the probable next stage be in the government’s war on renewables?

A hint may have come from overseas this week where reports have emerged of a Spanish draft decree that will impose a drastic tax on domestic solar systems  (previous link is in Spanish, click here for English translation).

Believed to be in the range of EUR 8.90 (USD 10) and EUR 15.30 per kW for systems of up to 15 kW connected to the low-voltage network appears to be designed to discourage the use of batteries by households connected to the grid.

Will we see a similar regime imposed on Australians? A tax on those looking to connect battery storage — the “next big thing”? How far will the government go to cripple solar energy, wind energy or any other renewables?

Or will Mr Abbott and Co. see that Australians overwhelmingly support renewable energy and end the government’s war on renewables? For surely they must see that to oppose renewables will be counter-productive at where it hurts most in a democracy: the ballot box. We’d like your thoughts please.


  1. This idea is insanity realised. We have a consumption tax called the GST, which taxes consumption of most goods and services and, like it or not, is easy to understand. This idiotic idea wants to tax people for NOT consuming, in this case, electricity from the grid. What next – I turn off some appliances because I’m not using them, in order to save electricity, and the Government taxes me for NOT using electricity? The fossil fuel industry in Spain must be even more powerful than it is here in Oz!

    • Agree Red, the idea’s got “nasty” written all over it.

      Thanks for the comment.


      • Come on guys! YOU voted for it ~ and pay taxes to support it.!

        This problem ~ among a good few others ~ lies in that ‘ordinary’ Australians persist in voting for bloody politicians and taxation. In fact, most of them froth at the mouth (and go to war!) to defend the so-called ‘privilege’!
        How is our ‘system’ any different from the Mafia-gangs’ protection-rackets??
        (ie: Give us your money or we’ll hurt you.)…..except we actually ELECT our mafia bosses, and our only copout is that some Godfather made voting ‘compulsory’.

        This country-full of forelock-tuggers never has had any guts ~ and is getting worse by the minute.
        But you’ve got no right to whinge. Fight..or bend over further.

  2. Everyone loves renewable energy, even Tony Abbott. Free energy is the ultimate goal. What the government is trying to do is to get the whole system back into balance. Solar energy is now just about as accepted as a washing machine, and thanks to China’s over capacity to produce good product cheaply, we can all have it. Wind energy has an entirely different cost benefit case to put. You still have to shift the energy through the grid, and the network charges we all cop just keep going up. I met a chap on the weekend who is off to Port Lincoln SA this week, to install giant battery systems to a big wind farm. That should smooth out the off-on nature of wind generation to some extent – but – the cost without massive government subsidies is horrendous. My son living in Adelaide, the only person in the house, gets a power bill as big as the bill for a family down the road with seven kids. The socialist system is working a treat in South Australia. Not. He’s renting, so there is no solution, other than to pay up. S A is closing two coal fired power stations. Just watch the S A economy and jobs market collapse over the next few years. It is already past the half way mark. Subsidies are not always the best option – someone has to pay – and sooner or later, you run out of other people’s money. I’m sticking with solar, batteries soon.

    • http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Civil_disobedience

      For all their faults, the Americans took on the might of ther British Empire over taxation.
      This nation of forelock-tuggers actually VOTES to install them.

      But note:- I got stuck into SP Ausnet about an effective increase 60+% pa of the iniquitous ‘Service to property charge’, and was sent the rates they charge the retailers. It turns out SPAusnet charges Origin 27 cents per day,
      ……and Origin charges me $1.38.
      Even allowing for the equally-iniquitous GST, that still means Origin charge me about FIVE TIMES what they pay ~ and produce NO added value.
      Who the hell do they think they are ~ politicians??

    • Fair enough, as far as the subsidy goes.
      I’m happy enough with the idea of paying for what you want ~ if it’s worth the asking price to you, personally.
      ….. and you have a CHOICE of whether you want it or not.

      What I resent is being told what I MUST have and how much it’ll cost me.

      But what I resent most of all is being taxed for something for which I’ve paid, and ‘own’. (and which they’ll confiscate if I don’t hand over the cash.

      This country needs a revolution the like of which we seldom see these days; as a matter of principle even more than a matter of cash.

  3. Interesting points as always thanks Colin.


  4. I reckon if I was given $400 million per year,I would with the assistance of CSIRO & inspired renewables enthusiastic staff,have by now developed “Super-efficient” solar batteries! Probably capable of six weeks running without sunlight! Because of the dastardly greed & power of the COAL lobby,this didn,t happen,more,s the pity.BUT Coal mining shareholders BIG RENEWABLE is well on the way,you won,t stop us now!

  5. And Tony Abbott is right, take a drive through the once beautiful Denmark, everywhere those big monstrosities wind farm have totally spoiled the landscape—Go to the beach and instead of the pleasant ocean view you will see more monstrosities going whoosh whoosh.

    All in favour of solar panels on the roof of houses, in fact it should be compulsory
    for all new houses to install them, but windfarms no.

    • That’s ‘eye-of-the-beholder’ stuff, Paul.
      Personally I think the sight of giant airfoils on slim sentinel-towers sighing along in harmony with the elements is among the more graceful and inspiring visions to be seen in this crude and harsh and often unforgiving ‘Sunburnt country’. (Much as I wouldn’t change anything about it.)

      The love of field and coppice
      Of green and shaded lanes,
      Of ordered woods and gardens
      Is running in your veins.
      Strong love of grey-blue distance,
      Brown streams and soft, dim skies
      I know, but cannot share it,
      My love is otherwise.

      I love a sunburnt country,
      A land of sweeping plains,
      Of ragged mountain ranges,
      Of droughts and flooding rains.
      I love her far horizons,
      I love her jewel-sea,
      Her beauty and her terror
      The wide brown land for me!

      The stark white ring-barked forests,
      All tragic to the moon,
      The sapphire-misted mountains,
      The hot gold hush of noon,
      Green tangle of the brushes
      Where lithe lianas coil,
      And orchids deck the tree-tops,
      And ferns the warm dark soil.

      Core of my heart, my country!
      Her pitiless blue sky,
      When, sick at heart, around us
      We see the cattle die
      But then the grey clouds gather,
      And we can bless again
      The drumming of an army,
      The steady soaking rain.

      Core of my heart, my country!
      Land of the rainbow gold,
      For flood and fire and famine
      She pays us back threefold.
      Over the thirsty paddocks,
      Watch, after many days,
      The filmy veil of greenness
      That thickens as we gaze …

      An opal-hearted country,
      A wilful, lavish land
      All you who have not loved her,
      You will not understand
      though Earth holds many splendours,
      Wherever I may die,
      I know to what brown country
      My homing thoughts will fly.
      Dorothea MacKellar

  6. john nielsen says

    Hi Rich,
    Solar power from your roof panels pose an enormous problem for our governments. The government don’t know how to deal with it. There is a solution but they cannot understand it. When half of the Australian single family houses have solar power and batteries for standalone systems, which will happen in the near future, then people in the streets who are renting and people who are in units, will have to pay for the cost of having the poles and wires. The government will then only receive half to the normal income while they still have all the expenses. A real problem. So what if they charge you if you have battery storage and being connected to the grid. Quit the grid. Install more batteries and tell the grid to come and collect their meters and wires. If we are to have schools, hospitals, roads etc., then the government has to have some sort of revenue available, understandable, but there are way in which the grid can join the club with solar. I is and has been done elsewhere, but perhaps the government is in deep with the fossil fuel industry to their own long term demise.
    It has been raining for nearly 3 weeks where I live and I haven’t been using the grid. The switch is OFF and if they impose a tax for solar batteries, then my grid connection will be removed. Yes, the grid really has a problem on its hand, but there are solutions for them. Just ask.
    John Nielsen, Silkwood

  7. Wind farms are visually awful. They are expensive & after installation & maintenance costs are much more expensive than conventional sources. Plus they kill birds & there seems to be much evidence that their proximity is dangerous to human & animal health by audio frequency damage.
    There is now much better wind generating technology being developed in the U.S., which does not involve rotating blades.

  8. Told y’so! ~ just the other day.
    Pay a huge price for these flash new batteries which apparently MUST be connected to the grid and watch the price of grid-connection go through the roof.
    Blind Freddy could’ve seen THAT coming.

    From the link:-
    “Industry will create a lien for consumption of light with batteries
    The draft royal decree includes a new fee for users who connect to the network and have private storage systems for renewable energy
    Tesla seeks to transform the energy industry with its battery for home ….etc.

    • Going crook about paying tax, or the cost of delivery for energy is a one sided argument. You want to use electricity, water, gas, roads, trains, medicare, and have access to Centrelink for back-up when things go wrong, or for a pension when you get old, but you object to the cost of those services being charged out. So do I for that matter, but reality is that no matter what we use it costs us. Nothing is free, not even the air. The last government taxed one of the smallest fractions of air, carbon dioxide, and that really was an insult to our intelligence. The water that runs off my roof into my tanks is free, although I have to pay for the tanks, the place to put them, the pipes and the pump, so, nothing is really free. My solar system cost a few dollars, and it pays its way. If I spent a few thousand on state of the art batteries I could possibly disconnect from the grid and tell them to take the meters away. But I would need a back-up generator which I have to pay for. So, even if you live in the bush with no connections at all. You still have to pay. It’s the old story, If you don’t work, you don’t eat, if you don’t eat, you don’t shit, and if you don’t shit, you die. Aah! It’s a great life though, isn’t it? The alternative is a bit bleak.

  9. Gee Colin, y’sound like my mum! (“Always pay your way, son, and count your blessings.”)
    And she was right, and so are you.

    My problem is that I have NO right to choose what it is I have to pay for, nor how much I have to pay (ever increasingly ~ at the behest of some politico/bureaucrat y’wouldn’t allow to pat your dog in case he ~ the dog! ~ caught something.). .
    No matter how many water-tanks I have to catch the rain I STILL have to pay the water-board for the ‘availability’ of the water-pipe they’ve chosen to run past my house without ever asking me. (and in fact the (privatised!) rainwater here in Vic. theoretically belongs to the water company too. In some places water-tanks/dams are forbidden unless you pay tribute to the water authority God…..father.)
    On the same basis, the discussion here had to do with the taxation of sunlight.
    There are more than 100,000 people sleeping rough in Victoria tonight in below-freezing temperatures because of the unjustifiable cost of housing, which, directly and indirectly has been (and continues to be) engineered by taxes and other costs decreed by the multi-levels of government to which we pay protection money.
    It wasn’t very long ago that where and how you lived was up to you.
    There weren’t even wasteful impositions like planning/building permits. If the roof fell in on you it was your problem.* Alternative energy meant a kero-pressure lamp for lighting (no longer permitted; electricity ‘required’ or the whole house becomes ‘uninhabitable’) and a woodstove for cooking/heating ~ also no longer permitted in many suburbs~ . ….among other, more exotic, options!

    I was a 4-yo migrant kid in 1949 and saw several million migrants (a deliberately-imported workforce from a bomb-shattered Europe ) make good in ‘The Lucky Country’. And all of them started further behind the 8-ball than is imaginable oday. Strangers in a strange land, couldn’t speak English, mostly without much education. Or money. No social security of any kind (nor other government assistance) and only the neighbours unstintingly helping each other out when necessary.
    But there was plenty of work, and they hard for the most minimum of wages and got ahead in time. It’s hard to imagine these days how proud they were of their achievements.

    The difference was that they were allowed to get on with it without layer after layer of ‘official’ interference: all of it expensive but adding NO value. Governmental departments/institutions were kept to a minimum and so were taxes, charges, fees, levies. etc. etc.
    Being an incomeless ‘housewife’ was an honourable ~ and productive ~ profession, and dad’s responsibility to provide was possible; people (and ‘authorities’) lived within their means ……..And there were no hungry kids living on the street or sleeping under bushes. No pensioners having to eat dogfood in order to shit.
    …and sunlight and rain were free.

    • I can think of a couple of sayings that you would be familiar with: We can only play the hand we are dealt, and We are the masters of our own destiny.

      In a free country, we all have to make our own choices. I chose to be a bit difficult as a 15 year old, and was told to leave by my father, in two words. I did. Found a job, a place to board, worked hard for two years, full time study for a year, and worked ever since. No one ever gave me a free ride. I know people who must be a lot smarter than me. They have lived in group accommodation in places like Moe, on welfare and are happy as Larry. Done so for over 40 years, some of them. I reckon the only way to get away from the energy and water outfits, is (a) for the state to privatise them, so that they cannot compel you to pay for their services, if you don’t use them. And (b) to set your home up in a location where they don’t run pipes past your place, or connect you to the grid without new infrastructure. Solar is fine in those places, but you have to live there for a long time to justify the capital outlay. Same goes for water tanks and pumps etc.

      It’s a hard life, but, like I said, the alternative isn’t all that attractive.

      • Quite right Colin: I am familiar with those sayings.
        And have never accepted them.
        Our destiny is to die: end of story, no options. What matters is how we conduct ourselves before that happens; ie playing the hand dealt. Here we do have options!
        Don’t play.
        Shoot the dealer.
        Take your own marked deck…..

        As a little kid I learnt that if you want to win a football match, take a cricket bat.
        Or:- If you insist on grazing with the flock you’ll probably never get a green pick ~ only the rough stuff trodden-and-shat upon by those ahead of you.
        … and I mostly learnt that: if a thing is the convention there’s something wrong with it ~ even if only on the basis that conventions are designed to cater to the Lowest Common Denominator.
        Ironically, all our heroes, in any field of human endeavour, are those who ignore the conventions:- Our gods, military paladins, Nobel prizewinners, Social Reformers, etc.

        And my point was that: Certainly: “In a free country, we all have to make our own choices.”
        Unfortunately I can’t think of a single truly ‘Free Country’ on the face of the planet. Can you?
        Throughout human history the most savage penalty for the worst of crimes was banishment your tribe, being driven ‘beyond the pale’. These days you nobody ~ least of all
        ‘criminals’ is banished; and in fact you CAN’T leave of your own volition without permission from the State…and paying an exit fee for the privilege!
        “Freedom is the freedom to say that 2+2=4” ~ INGSOC

        Do you remember the last sentence of Orwell’s ‘1984’ ?

        “He gazed up at the enormous face. Forty years it had taken him to learn
        what kind of smile was hidden beneath the dark moustache. O cruel, needless
        misunderstanding! O stubborn, self-willed exile from the loving breast! Two
        gin-scented tears trickled down the sides of his nose. But it was all right,
        everything was all right, the struggle was finished. He had won the victory over
        He loved Big Brother.”

        BUT…to get back on topic ~ from this morning’s news:- http://www.smh.com.au/federal-politics/political-news/government-pulls-the-plug-on-household-solar-20150712-gian0u.html

  10. HA!! —> Abbott:- ” I’ve been up close to these wind farms, there’s no doubt that not only are they visually awful but they make a lot of noise.”

    Parliamentarians too!
    (and not nearly as productive!)

  11. Taxing home solar generation and storage… what an absolutely insane idea, on so many levels:

    (1) Create an economic incentive to burn more fossil fuels in centralised power plants.

    (2) Create an economic disincentive for the one technology – distributed energy storage – that has any hope of extracting the full value from our expensive but woefully under-utilised electricity distribution infrastructure, which must otherwise be designed for the maximum power scenario: all aircons on for that one day in summer.

    (3) Tax the independent productive capacity of households for self-use. What will they tax next? The home veggie patch? The labour expended to clean the house or wash dishes?

    (4) Encourage the centralisation of power (physical, economic & political) with large, commercial energy producers rather than families. The very concept is against every principal that the Liberal Party claims to stand for.

    (5) Double-taxation: pay GST on equipment and installation, then another tax for battery storage.

    I’m sure there are other objections. Absolutely nutters…

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