The South Australian government’s Home Battery Scheme has reached a major milestone, securing 5,500 installations and orders, and adding significant new storage capacity from the “virtual power plant” technology that enables their resources to be combined.
According to the South Australian government, the 5,500 systems already installed or on order can store up to a combined 62MWh of electricity, the equivalent of around half of the state’s Tesla big battery, officially known as the Hornsdale Power Reserve.
The Tesla big battery remains the largest lithium-ion installation in the world, with 100MW/129MWh of capacity. It is getting a boost in size to 150MW/194MWh, and while other big batteries are also being installed and proposed around the country, so too are VPP schemes that seek to combine the resources of thousands of individual household installations.
The South Australian government aims to install 40,000 additional residential battery systems through its VPP scheme, which it is supporting with the provision of subsidies of up to $6,000 per system.
“More and more South Australians are realising the Marshall Government’s subsidies of up to $6000 and low interest loans for home batteries and rooftop solar can free them from the burden of electricity bills and provide blackout protection,” South Australian energy minister Dan van Holst Pellekaan said.
“Falling prices for home batteries, access to low interest loans and word of mouth from satisfied customers have combined to drive the growing uptake.”
“New virtual power plant (VPP) retail offerings from AGL, Tesla, ShineHub, Sonnen and Simply Energy enable homeowners to save even more on the upfront cost of a home battery and achieved greater ongoing savings through their energy bills,” the minister added.
The battery storage systems installed in South Australia under the scheme will participate in virtual power plant systems, which will allow for the batteries to be coordinated in a way that will assist the operation of the wider electricity system.
Already, the South Australia VPP – using hundreds of batteries installed in mostly low income and state housing – played a key role in keeping the lights on when the country’s biggest coal unit, at Kogan Creek in Queensland, tripped in October, causing the power system to drop well below the normal level of system frequency.
A surge of households applied for the home battery subsidy in the last couple of months of 2019, with the number of households with a battery installed or having been approved for the battery subsidy, now exceeding 5,500.
Interest in battery installations has surged after the scheme kicked off with a relatively sluggish start.
“After an expected slow start 40 per cent of the total number of approvals have occurred in just the last two and a half months as South Australians realise the subsidy of up to $6000 makes purchasing a home battery financially attractive,” van Holst Pellekaan said.
The highest rates of uptake of the battery subsidy have been outside of Adelaide, with households in the state’s mid-north near Port Pirie and south-east near Mount Gambier, leading the adoption of battery systems.
The South Australian government has developed a battery sizing tool and is providing battery pricing information to households, to assist potential scheme participants in choosing the right size and type of battery system for their household.
Eligible South Australian households can receive a subsidy of $500 per kWh of battery energy storage, with the rate increasing to $600 per kWh for concession holders. In both cases, the total maximum subsidy is capped at $6,000.
The scheme is being funded by a $100 million commitment from the South Australian government, along with an additional $100 million in loans available to support the installation of systems being financed by the Clean Energy Finance Corporation.