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Victorians embracing solar at record levels

The Labor Government is helping make Victoria the renewable energy state, with more than half a million households now generating their own energy through solar and saving hundreds a year off their power bills. As many as one in every five homes have solar panels on their roof – with that number set to rise further still with the Labor Government’s latest incentives to get more Victorians making the renewable energy switch.

The latest data shows there are now 510,000 small-scale solar PV systems in Victoria – all together they generate almost a third of the state’s total residential electricity demand, with more than 15,000 households also having a solar battery.

The Government is working to continue to make it easy for more homeowners to go solar, with eligible Victorians able to access both a rebate and interest-free loan of up to $1,850 each when installing solar panels or up to $4,174 off the cost of installing a household battery system.

Households with solar panels can save up to $890 a year and another $640 with a battery. Given the popularity of battery rebates, postcode restrictions have now been lifted, meaning households across the state can apply.

Recent data on the program – which will create at least 5,500 jobs over its lifespan – also shows November 2020 was the biggest month for solar battery rebate uptake (429 applications), while December 2020 was the biggest month for battery installations (183).

Almost 1,900 Victorian households have now applied for a Solar Homes household battery since the program started in July 2019 – and fortnightly allocations are being snapped up almost as soon as they go online. The Government is making 17,500 rebates available over the next three years to keep up with demand.

While grid connection and the associated feed-in tariff is a motivator for some households to install a home battery, the best opportunity for savings comes from using the power that a solar system creates during daylight hours and storing excess energy in a battery. For more information about solar rebates, go to solar.vic.gov.au.

The region’s Minister for Solar Homes stated that Victoria has embraced renewable energy – and the aim is to see these impressive figures rise even higher. Solar is good for jobs, it’s good for the environment and it’s good for bringing down power bills. The recent expansion of the Government’s solar battery rebate program will help Victorians store their affordable rooftop energy and boost local solar businesses as Victoria’s economic recovery continues.

A recent article noted that Australia saw a surge of small-scale utility solar in 2020 owing to the path of least resistance found by systems around the 5 MW range. At that capacity, the systems can fly under the radar of much of the network’s congestion woes. A solar farm in South Australia’s Mid-Murray region was completed in February and is just one example.

Another Renmark-based electrical services company has already developed 80 MW of small-scale solar farms in the last five years, and this year they teamed up with Sustainable Energy Infrastructure to develop another 20 MW by the middle of 2021.

As evidence enough of the small/medium-scale surge in provided by the fact that in December the sector found its first dedicated investment vehicle – Solarion Renewable Fund – which aims to fill the gap in medium-scale solar in Australia with a target portfolio of over 200 MW in the next few years.

Australia’s largest free-range chicken farm also switched on one of the biggest solar plus energy storage systems of any commercial farm in the country in November. With 1.4 MW of rooftop solar combining with 2.28 MWh of energy storage via 5 Tesla lithium-ion batteries, the farm is excited to save enormous amounts on its energy bill and its emissions.

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