Home battery scheme to shore up power supply ahead of summer

Updated October 30, 2018 00:17:50

South Australia’s Energy Minister has warned there is still a 10 per cent chance of load-shedding blackouts this summer, ahead of warmer temperatures in the state this week.

Key points:

  • The SA Government says it is working to combat the blackout risk ahead of summer
  • Very hot weather is expected in parts of SA and Victoria later this week
  • A home battery and solar loan and grant scheme is now available in SA

Parts of South Australia and Victoria are expecting a sweltering start to November, with temperatures forecast to reach the low-40s in regional areas.

The Bureau of Meteorology expects temperatures to reach 36 degrees Celsius in Adelaide on Thursday, and as high as 40C in the Riverland and Mid North.

Temperatures will also rise into the 30s across Victoria, with a top of 41C forecast for Mildura on Thursday.

Australia dodged load-shedding blackouts last summer, despite the closure of Victoria’s coal-fired Hazelwood power station, but the upcoming heat is looming as an early test to the power grid ahead of summer.

SA Energy Minister Dan van Holst Pellekaan said there was still a chance load-shedding blackouts would happen in the coming months.

“We’re working incredibly closely with the Australian Energy Market Operator (AEMO),” he said.

“They are incredibly optimistic that we will be well positioned coming into this summer to deal with those challenges.

“They, as the public already knows, have predicted a one-in-10 chance of the need for load shedding and every day we are working to reduce that chance.”

The SA Government’s long-promised home battery scheme became available to the public on Monday, with hopes to serve the dual purposes of shoring up the power grid and bringing down bills for 40,000 homes.

From Monday, South Australian households can access up to $5,000 towards a battery system or $6,000 if they hold a concession card.

Low-interest loans are also available through the Clean Energy Finance Corporation, which is providing half the cost of the $200 million scheme.

Premier Steven Marshall said South Australia had the highest amount of rooftop solar systems in the world, and the investment would ensure some of that electricity was stored and saved.

“Plenty of homes at the moment are producing power, but unfortunately it’s not available when they want to use it, so we want to get households off the grid during those peak-demand periods, that will be a massive advantage,” he said.

During the first nine weeks of the scheme, households will only be able to buy and install Sonnen batteries made at the former Holden factory.

“We think that’s important because we want to encourage more people to do manufacturing here in South Australia,” Mr Marshall said.

Battery scheme ‘out of reach’ for some according to Labor

Opposition energy spokesman Tom Koutsantonis said despite the loans and grants, the Government’s scheme would still require homeowners to make substantial investments which could be unaffordable.

“The Liberals’ home battery scheme is out of reach for too many middle-to-lower income earners,” he said.

“South Australians struggling with the cost of electricity are unlikely to have thousands of dollars lying around in the bank to spend on a battery system.”

Mr Koutsantonis said a so-called “virtual power plant” involving Tesla batteries at 1,100 Housing Trust homes, which will be trialled next year, was much more generous.

“The Tesla virtual power plant introduced by the former Labor government offered free batteries, meaning a household’s income was not a barrier,” Mr Koutsantonis said.

“A specific number of batteries were set aside for lower-income earners.”

The Government said households that did not participate in either scheme would benefit from reduced power prices as demand on the grid dropped.

Topics: alternative-energy, environment, electricity-energy-and-utilities, solar-energy, wind-energy, states-and-territories, adelaide-5000, sa

First posted October 29, 2018 15:58:33