Solar Owners Ready to Unlock More Storage Than South Australia’s Big Battery
Friday, May 4: Survey results show that solar owners on a premium feed-in tariff (PFiT) are ready to upgrade their system and install batteries but are held back by the prospect of losing their tariff.
A new report by community group Solar Citizens shows that a voluntary buyout of premium feed-in tariffs which provides participating households with an upfront sum for an expanded solar system or battery storage offers a viable solution.
In Queensland alone there are over 250,000 households on the PFiT. The buyout scheme would open the floodgates for the uptake of battery storage across Australia, potentially leading to three times more battery storage than South Australia’s big battery.
“We surveyed 340 solar owners on a premium tariff and found that 76% were interested or potentially interested in participating in a voluntary buyout,” said Shani Tager, Solar Citizens Senior Campaigner.
“Early adopters of solar have seen firsthand the benefits of producing their own clean power and many are ready to go that step further and upgrade their system or install a battery.”
“The premium feed-in tariffs did an excellent job of kicking off the rooftop solar industry in Australia, creating thousands of jobs and helping households generate clean power and take back control of their energy bills."
However, the rules of the premium tariffs mean that early solar adopters are unable to upgrade their system and add storage, which many households want to do with the price of solar and household batteries coming down.
In addition to providing a lump sum for participating households, the proposed buyout scheme would also split the payment to establish a fund to help low-income households get solar.
The survey found that 46% of solar owners were more likely to participate in the scheme if the savings were shared with low-income and vulnerable households.
“This scheme could generate up to $400 million in funding for low-income and vulnerable households to access solar, storage and energy efficiency, providing much needed relief to households who are feeling the pinch of high electricity prices,” said Ms Tager.
“We emphasise that any premium feed in tariff buyout must be completely voluntary - these homeowners have contracts that give them a right to continue with the higher feed in tariff if they prefer."
Solar owner in Premium FiT:
Brisbane locals Gordon and Mary installed a 1.2kW system in 2009 and think the buyout scheme is a fantastic idea.
“The Premium Feed-in Tariff I’m on is very generous, but with the reduction in the price of new panels and batteries it’s like having golden handcuffs,” said Gordon.
“I’m increasingly feeling trapped by the contract we signed as we can’t invest in additional panels or batteries without losing the PFiT. So I’m open to the idea of some kind of buyout scheme.”
Low-income household looking to go solar:
Susan Maygar, a pensioner from Victoria who’s looking to get solar and storage for the savings, thinks it’s absolutely a good idea to give low-income households a helping hand – both financially and by providing more advice on reputable installers.
“There’s an awful lot of people who are really struggling in Australia and they’re the ones who need solar.”
“As far as I’m concerned solar with a battery is the only way to go so that I can afford to run my air conditioner in the future.”
“In Winter, I’d say 90 percent of our pensioners are rugging up instead of using heating to save.”
This report was funded by the Lord Mayor’s Charitable Foundation and is available here.