Victorian Solar Homes program: Solar and battery uptake soars in Melbourne’s growth suburbs

The Victorian government’s $1.3 billion Solar Homes Program has gained significant traction, with strong participation in Melbourne’s suburbs and the state’s rural north. Meanwhile, demand for home battery storage systems have increased over the last month, owing to the national energy crisis and a particularly harsh winter.

The city’s outer growth suburbs are leading the demand, with five metropolitan suburbs in particular accounting for over 10 per cent of scheme-assisted installations statewide. Tarneit Clyde NorthCraigieburnTruganina and Point Cook, located in Melbourne’s west, northwest and southeast have seen over 20,000 solar PV systems installed under the program so far, with many more applications in the pipeline.

The uptake is not just restricted to Melbourne, with both solar and battery installation numbers spiking in several rural areas including Wodonga, Mildura, Wangaratta, Wallan and Shepparton.

200,000 Victorians claim program rebates to date

Since 2018 when the program was first launched, Victoria’s Solar Homes Program has been successful in not only boosting solar uptake but also virtual power plants (VPPs) and residential batteries. It has also contributed to job creation, particularly in growth corridors.

The Victorian government claims the program has already helped more than 200,000 Victorians install solar, saving them an average of $1,073 each year on their electrical bill. Furthermore, a Solar Victoria customer poll revealed that 71 per cent of respondents would not have installed solar if it had not been for the initiative.

“Our Solar Homes Program is driving down the cost of living for Victorian households and reducing emissions,” says minister for Solar Homes Lily D’Ambrosio. 

“Solar Homes customers are well-positioned to absorb energy bill rises in energy costs, by time-setting appliances to run during the day when solar systems are operating at their peak.”

Solar rebate expansion

In April this year, the Victorian Government announced an expansion to its Solar Homes and Solar for Business Programs, allowing households and small businesses to have greater access to various rebates and loans.

Under the expansion, Victorian households will be able to access rebates for both solar panels and a solar hot water system. Previously, once you received the Victorian solar panel rebate, you weren’t eligible to “double-dip” and also receive a state-level rebate for a solar hot water or heat pump system.

The expansion means that some 190,000 residents who previously accessed a $1400 rebate to install solar panels will be able to access an additional 50% rebate – of up to $1,000 – to have solar hot water or a high-efficiency electric heat pump system installed.

Households are also eligible for a $1,400 interest-free loan, cutting up to $3,800 from upfront installation costs.

Battery rebate applications "double" in 2021-22 FY

A cold weather snap coupled with Australia’s current energy crisis which has seen power prices soar and the threat of outages has seen the demand for solar battery energy storage systems skyrocket. In an interview with The Guardian, Solar Victoria chief executive, Stan Krpan, claimed inquiries into battery rebates in Victoria have spiked significantly.

The program supports eligible Victorian households to install a solar battery by providing a point-of-sale discount up to a maximum of $2,950. At the time of writing, 748 rebates remain in the current release.

Krpan reported that more than 5,850 battery rebate applications were approved in the 2021-22 financial year, more than double the number received the previous year. “Phone inquiries to our contact centre have been 50% higher than the yearly average,” said Krpan. “We’re expecting this to lead to growth in installations over the winter months.”

Program expands into Virtual Power Plants (VPP)

In February this year, the state government announced an expansion of its Solar Homes program into the world of Virtual Power Plants (VPPs).

Households who installed a battery and signed up to one of six different VPP pilots before July 2022* received a higher rebate at a fixed rate of $4,174 (as opposed to a maximum $3,500 for non-VPP rebates). In addition to the higher rebate, these VPPs offered ‘guaranteed benefits’ and extra protections for consumers, such as discounts on hardware, reduced energy bills or regular compensation for taking part.

The government-backed program was capped at 2000 rebates and is limited to five approved battery providers; Tesla, Mondo, Reposit, Sonnen and Arcstream.

*Note: While the program was scheduled to close last month, 1,787 rebates still remain. At the time of writing, the program webpage is still live and appears to have been updated on July 1st, with applications for the rebate seemingly still open.

Current Solar Victoria programs:

Victoria is known for having some of the country’s most generous solar rebate programs and, coupled with favourable current solar prices, now is a great time to consider the switch to a solar PV system, a solar hot water system – or both!

Our professional solar installers in Melbourne will assess and determine your energy needs. We customise a solar panel system in Melbourne to fit the roof size of your properly, ensuring you receive the most suitable a solar panel system for your Melbourne home, meeting to property’s energy requirements.