Rooftop solar rebate reopens to “pent-up” demand in Victoria

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More than 1000 applications flood in as Victoria’s $1.3bn Solar Homes rebate kicks off in earnest. Batteries are on offer too – but just 200 from now to November.

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AAP Image/Dan Himbrechts
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One Step Off The Grid

Victoria’s residential rooftop solar market is set to take off once again, with the state government’s $1.3 billion Solar Home rebate reopening on Monday to “pent-up” demand that has seen one-third of the month’s quota snapped up within hours.

The launch of the first full year of the decade-long program follows a short but painful lull in business for the state’s solar retailers and installers, after the massively popular scheme – tapped by more than 32,000 in its first six months – was closed to new applications for the three months to July.

In an effort to prevent this sort of “solar coaster” effect from happening again, Solar Victoria is taking a staggered approach in 2019/20, by offering applications for 3,333 rooftop solar systems per month, to deliver a total of 40,000 systems for private homes and community-owned housing in 2019/20 (and another 2,000 for rented homes).

Nonetheless, demand appears to be red hot, with nearly 1,200 applications already lodged by 3pm on Monday, leaving just 2,157 remaining for the month.

Acting Solar Victoria CEO Jonathon Leake said the massive uptake on day one of the new scheme was likely due to a bit of “pent-up demand,” resulting from the aforementioned pause in the rebate.

But he said that making the application numbers visible, with live counters for each of the rebates on offer from Solar Victoria, was one of a number of requests from industry to help reduce the potential stop-start effect of the scheme.

“After the pause in the scheme, we got together with industry who said, set application numbers once a month, make them visible, and then we can better match supply with demand,” Leake said.

Monday also signals the beginning of the Andrews government’s home battery rebate – which offers discounts of up to $4,838 to households with existing solar systems.

The first 12 months of that program will be even more carefully managed, with a staggered roll-out to a total of 1000 homes – 200 from 1 July, 400 from 1 November and 400 from 1 March 2020 – restricted to a limited selection of postcodes (see list here) and eligibility criteria.

Whether the battery offering will be as well embraced by Victorian households as the rooftop solar rebate remains to be seen.

As Giles Parkinson noted in last month’s Solar Insiders Podcast, residential battery storage uptake remains slow and steady in Australia, even in states like South Australia where rooftop solar uptake is high and storage incentives have been in place for some years.

According to the Solar Victoria live tally, a total of five applications for the battery subsidy had been made by 3pm on Monday. It will be fascinating to watch.

To read the full story on RenewEconomy sister site, One Step Off The Grid, click here…

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