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100th ACT Battery Installation Milestone

Lainie and David Shorthouse with their solar battery system. Photo: Georgina Connery

ACT Government is rewarding early-adopters of solar battery storage technology with $25 million in grants subsidising the systems used by homes and businesses by 2020.

A move ACT Climate Change and Sustainability minister Shane Rattenbury said was "one of the biggest roll outs of battery storage in the world" and help to safeguard the territory's grid against outages in peak use periods.

"The batteries mitigate the need to make the grid bigger," he said.

He said issues with power outages were linked in general to peak use and increasing grid capacity to cater these intermittent usage spikes was expensive.

"If we can avoid building capacity we save a whole lot of infrastructure investment and batteries can play a part in helping with that," he said.

Counterparts in federal politics have been tussling over energy security and claiming batteries are not there yet, but Mr Rattenbury disagreed saying their use to hold off grid expansion could save the ACT Government between $60 million and $220 million dollars in infrastructure investment.

More than 100 homes and businesses have installed discounted battery storage systems to help reduce their energy bills and stress on the electricity grid and the scheme aims to have 5000 homes participating by 2020 generating 36 megawatt hours capacity back into the grid.

Lainie and David Shorthouse began their solar revolution with solar water heating in 1976 and now live as retirees in their Lyneham home of 30 years paying no electricity bills or fuel costs for their electric car.

The pair, both in their early seventies, said the $12,000 upfront cost of the battery storage system might be a big ask for working families, but they felt it was worthwhile to keep control over their household bills.

David explained they invested several thousand in their initial photo-voltaic solar panels 10 years ago but have a high feed in tariff rate of 50 cents per kilowatt hour, compared with the 7 cents per kilowatt hour they receive for excess put into the grid through the new unit.

"Its an investment over the long term," he said. "It removes the day to day costs, electricity bills, and it builds the profile and value of the house as a sustainable property when we eventually downsize and move out."

Minister Rattenbury said early investors such as the Shorthouses made a tangible difference in the market.

"Their private investment helps to leverage a quicker uptake of the technology and a faster drop in the prices," he said.

Mr Rattenbury said the Next Generation Renewables Energy Storage Grants scheme would improve Canberra's clean green energy reputation.

"It will drive further interest in Canberra," he said.

"The data we are going to generate from these 5000 batteries will be one of the biggest databases in the world of battery performance in a real environment. That will make us of interest to researchers, academics, businesses and that again drives further economic activity for the city."

Source: The Canberra Times


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