Central Victorian solar-system suppliers are hoping new technology will help the sector stay competitive when lucrative feed-in tariffs are scrapped at the end of the year.
From New Year’s Day more than 67,000 Victorians will lose a tariff paying them a minimum of 25 cents per kilowatt-hours for excess energy sold back into the grid.
Many Victorians will also lose a ‘one for one’ tariff, which allows them to trade their solar energy for grid power at night, when the sun was not shining.
From 1 January electricity retailers will pay a minimum of 5 cents per kWh for excess energy sold into the grid.
SB Solar Battery Services manager Stephen Breheny said many people were looking at ways to bypass the grid and store their own power.
“It’s gone to the point where people are saying (installing a solar system) is not going to be cost effective unless they also install a battery system,” he said.
Mr Breheny organising an information session in Castlemaine on new batteries in stock, including a Tesla battery capable of storing half some household’s daily energy output.
He said people would also be able to see Tesla’s new Model S electric car, which could be recharged overnight from energy captured in solar batteries.
Cola Solar business operations manager Julian Miles-Keough said the end of the tariff would not slow demand for solar power.
“The prices for systems have never been better and electricity prices have never been higher,” he said.
The industry’s future was in technological advances and cheaper components, rather than householders making money off energy sold into the grid,” Mr Miles-Keough said.
He noted that the end of a 66 cent tariff a few years ago triggered a drop in the price of components which customers were still benefiting from.
Advocacy groupSolar Citizens’ consumer campaigner Reece Turner was broadly supportive of the cuts.
He said high tariffs had been a good idea in the days when solar systems were more expensive and demand needed a kick-start.
However he hoped the Victorian parliament would adjust next year’s tariff to include variable rates, perhaps 8 cents during periods when more people were using the grid.
SB Solar Battery Services’ Ste
The information session will take place at the Castlemaine Town Hall from 6pm Thursday.