The Australian state of Victoria has doubled down on its rooftop solar and home battery subsidy programme as part of a drive to help households cover the cost of their power bills while making properties more energy efficient.
Some AU$191 million (US$140 million) will be provided by the state government to expand its Solar Homes programme, meaning an extra 42,000 rebates for rooftop PV will be on offer over the next two years, while small businesses will be able to apply to the scheme for the first time, with 15,000 rebates available.
Fresh funding will also scale up the state’s home battery programme, with 17,500 household battery rebates on offer over the next three years.
The support forms part of a wider AU$797 million (US$584 million) package announced by the government today (Tuesday) that will be included in the state's budget, which is due to be announced next week.
The investment includes an initiative to replace old wood, electric or gas-fired heaters with new lower emissions systems that are safer and cheaper to run. The scheme will be open to low-income earners and save 250,000 households as much as AU$900 (US$660) per year.
“This pandemic has been hard enough without worrying about whether you can pay the power bill. Not only will we help cover that cost – we’ll help Victorians make their home more efficient and fight climate change,” said energy minister Lily D’Ambrosio.
According to the Clean Energy Council, scaling up the home battery programme will mitigate some of the challenges experienced by the existing scheme, which has seen demand outstrip the limited number of rebates previously available.
The renewable energy association’s chief executive, Kane Thornton, said he expects the battery rebate to improve standards for safety, quality and new technology, while also strengthening and stabilising the grid.
"Importantly, today's announcement allows energy users and the rooftop solar industry to reap the benefits immediately, unlike long-term projects. Rooftop solar and battery installation will be a welcome relief for stretched household budgets,” he said. “This sort of activity is critical in moving Victoria towards a clean recovery."
In a move to support economic growth following the impact of coronavirus, Victoria’s government recently launched a market sounding process to explore the addition of at least 600MW of renewables. The state has a target of 50% green energy by 2030.