The Victorian Labor government’s Solar Homes program has notched up a new milestone, with the amount of new PV capacity installed via the $1.3 billion rebate scheme passing the 1 gigawatt mark this week.
The 1GW milestone was announced on Friday by Victorian energy minister Lily D’Ambrosio, who in June described her role as minister for Solar Homes as one of her proudest political achievements.
D’Ambrosio said the solar panel rebate, which currently offers a discount on the cost of a rooftop PV system of up to $1,400, plus the option of an interest-free loan, had led to the installation of 3 million panels on more than 165,000 Victorian rooftops.
All told, the Solar Homes Program had boosted percentage of the state’s homes with rooftop PV from 14 per cent to 22 per cent in the relatively short period since its launch.
And according to Solar Victoria, which runs the rebate scheme for the state government, 71 per cent of respondents to a recent customer survey said they would not have installed solar if it weren’t for the government rebate.
“The impact of this program is clear – with Victorians continuing to embrace the opportunity to be part of the energy revolution,” the minister said.
“With summer just around the corner, now is great time to join the more than 180,000 households and small businesses who have applied for $340 million in rebates since the Solar Homes Program began in 2018.”
“People will save on energy bills but will also be playing a key role in Victoria’s transition to a clean energy economy.”
The Victorian Government’s landmark Solar Homes program is one of my proudest achievements as Minister. We are putting renewable energy into the hands — and on to the roofs — of hundreds of thousands of households right across Victoria.
— Lily D’Ambrosio MP (@LilyDAmbrosioMP) June 22, 2021
According to Solar Victoria, uptake has been particularly strong in certain parts of the state, such as Tarneit, Craigieburn, Clyde North, Point Cook and Truganina, in metropolitan Melbourne, and Mildura, Shepparton, Wodonga, Wangaratta and Wallan in the regions.
In Tarneit and Truganina, more than 40% of homes have solar panels – both through Solar Homes and through other providers. While in Wangaratta, in Victoria’s north-east, almost half the homes have solar, Solar Victoria said. Read more about where, and how much, rooftop solar is being installed, here.
As well as bolstering the Labor Andrews government’s chances of reaching its targets of 40% renewables by 2025, and 50% by 2030, the boost in rooftop solar uptake delivered by Solar Homes has also contributed to new records in minimum operational demand on the Victorian grid.
As the Australian Energy Market Operator explains here, minimum operational demand – the lowest level of demand from the grid in any given day, week or year – is extremely sensitive to ongoing uptake of solar PV.
“When consumers’ energy needs, particularly during daylight hours, are being met by their own distributed energy resources (DER) such as solar PV, that results in low demand for energy from the grid.”
On October 31, a Sunday, Victoria set a new minimum operational demand record of 2,402MW, down from the previous 2,529MW record on 25 December 2020. According to AEMO, at the time of the new record rooftop solar provided 47% of underlying demand, compared to 40% on 25 December 2020.
Victoria also saw a new minimum operational demand record on Sunday of 2,402 MW, down from the previous 2,529MW record on 25 December 2020. At the time, rooftop solar provided 47% of underlying demand, compared to 40% on 25 December 2020. #NEMrecord pic.twitter.com/lMmISpuZj1
— AEMO (@AEMO_Energy) November 1, 2021
Rooftop solar has been pushing down wholesale power prices in the state, too. In AEMO’s most recent quarterly report, it noted that an abundance of rooftop solar generation helped send the average spot electricity price in Victoria down to around zero for six-hours of each day in August and September.
To be precise, average spot prices between 10am and 3:30pm fell from $30/MWh in 2020 to just $0.01/MWh during August and September, AEMO said.
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