Victorian homeowners who purchase battery storage now have the option to join a new Virtual Power Plant Pilot (VPP) through the Victorian Government’s Solar Homes Program. If eligible, homeowners will receive a boosted battery rebate of $4,174 as well as financial incentives from their VPP provider.
Each VPP plan is different. Most provide ongoing electricity bill credits in return for drawing power from your battery. Some offer discounts off the battery purchase price, and one plan even goes as far as providing a longer warranty on the battery.
The boosted battery rebate is worth $4,174. This compares with $3,500 for a battery rebate if you decide not to join a Solar Homes VPP.
The boosted rebate is only available until 30 June 2022 for eligible households who join one of the six approved VPPs, according to Solar Victoria, the government body that runs the Solar Homes Program. After that, it is expected to fall in value but, to what, we don’t know yet!
The Victorian Government has also announced a cap of 2,000 battery rebates for those joining an approved VPP pilot. They’ve also said that the pilot program will only last two years, ending December 2023.
As with all good things from the government – rebates in particular – it’s a good idea to get in quick before they run out!
At this point, you may be wondering what a VPP is – and whether it’s worth joining one.
This post explains:
- What VPPs are
- Benefits provided by VPPs
- What’s on offer from each of the six VPP pilots
- Eligibility criteria
- What’s the best Solar Homes VPP Pilot for me?
What are Virtual Power Plants, or VPPs?
A Virtual Power Plant is a network of homes with solar batteries, connected using smart software. To take part in a VPP program, you need to have solar panels and a solar battery installed.
The purpose of creating a VPP is to share energy between homes on the network and improve the resilience of the electricity grid. VPPs also increase the amount of renewable energy flowing through the grid, reducing the requirement for power from traditional generation sources such as coal-fired power stations.
VPPs are the next big thing in the transition of the national electricity grid to renewable energy. They also have the potential to reward participants more fairly for their part in supplying the grid with clean solar energy.
Benefits provided by VPPs
Benefits provided by VPPs fall into three categories:
1. Benefits for participants:
Homeowners joining a VPP will be rewarded in a variety of ways, depending on which VPP plan they join.
Most VPPs provide an ongoing financial incentive in the form of credits against your electricity bill in return for drawing on power from your battery. This is generally at a much higher rate than you’d get with the feed-in-tariff.
Your battery will generally only be drawn upon at times when the grid is under stress; that’s also when the wholesale rates for electricity go through the roof. It means your electricity retailer doesn’t have to buy as much power from the wholesale market at super-inflated prices. They benefit, and so do you!
VPPs may also provide other financial benefits to participants. Each VPP program is different, with different pros and cons. Checking out the fine print on a VPP program is important and something we can help you with.
2. Benefits for non-solar households
There are two big benefits for non-solar households. Neither are immediately obvious, but both have long-term advantages.
First, we all pay for infrastructure upgrades to the national electricity network through our electricity bills. This is hidden within the network supply charge which is typically around $1.00-$1.20 a day. By rolling out VPPs throughout Victoria, the need for expensive upgrades to the poles and wires that carry electricity to our homes is reduced. With VPPs handling spikes in demand, upgrades will no longer be as necessary. This means less costs flowing through to household electricity bills. Everyone stands to benefit!
Second, non-solar households will benefit from improved quality of power supply to their homes. With VPPs providing greater resilience to the grid, there will be less incidents of voltage variance causing appliances to trip (even shortening their lifespan) and fewer power outages.
3. Benefits for the environment:
In 2020, renewables contributed 24% of total electricity generation. Looking at it the other way, around 70-75% of the national electricity grid is still made up of dirty electricity from fossil fuels. Clearly, a lot more needs to be done to make the grid 100% renewable. Utilising the excess solar electricity from millions of solar rooftops across Australia to power the grid is the obvious solution. There’s little doubt that VPPs will be at the forefront of the transition to a 100% renewables electricity grid.
What’s on offer from each of the six VPP pilots
The main features of each of the six VPP Pilot Programs approved by Solar Homes are shown below:
Solar Homes Virtual Power Plant Pilot Programs, February 2022
|VPP Name||Region||Key benefits||Contract period|
|Arcstream 100% Green by Q Cells||Eastern Victoria and eastern Metropolitan suburbs||
||Exit anytime. No exit fees.|
|Reposit “No Bill” by Reposit Power||Victoria wide||
||5-year contract. No exit fees.|
|SonnenConnect by Sonnen||Victoria wide||
||1 year contract. No exit fees.|
|EDGE (Energy Demand and Generation Exchange) by Mondo||Hume region||
||4-year contract. No exit fees.|
|Virtual Power Plant Reliability by Mondo||Hume region (for homes with history of outage issues)||
||4-year contract. No exit fees.|
|Tesla Energy Plan by Tesla||Victoria wide||
||1 year contract. No exit fees.|
To be eligible for the VPP Pilot battery rebate, households must meet criteria including:
- The applicant is the owner-occupier of the property where the system is to be installed.
- The property is valued at under $3 million.
- Combined household taxable income is less than $180,000 a year.
- The applicant(s) have not already received a rebate as an owner-occupier under the Solar Homes Program – nor has the property.
- The property must already have a solar panels system with a capacity of 5kW or greater, or the property owner will install a solar panels system of 5kW or greater at the same time as the battery.
- The battery is on Solar Victoria’s approved battery list.
- Distributed Network Service Provider (DNSP) approval has been received to connect a battery to the grid. (This is normally done on your behalf by your Solar Retailer, e.g. Specialized Solar).
In addition to Solar Homes criteria for the VPP battery rebate, each of the Solar Homes approved VPP Programs have their own eligibility criteria.
We’re happy to help if you’d like advice on the application process and eligibility. Feel free to get in touch!
Which Solar Homes VPP program is best for me?
Before answering this question, it’s worth saying that VPPs are not for everyone.
If energy independence is your #1 goal when you install a battery, the VPP may not help you achieve this. By signing up to a VPP, you’re giving the VPP Program right to draw power from your battery; this may not be convenient if you want enough power to cover your household in the event of an outage.
VPP plans vary enormously. Some will draw power as often as they require and as much as they require, even draining your battery completely. Others will state exactly how many times a year they’ll access your battery and the percentage charge they’ll draw down to. As with most things in life, reading the fine print is important.
OK, let’s answer the original question: which solar homes VPP is the right one for you.
Reposit “No Bill” VPP: if you want a guarantee of zero electricity bills for 5 years, this sounds enticing. However, it’s light on detail. How much will you have to pay upfront to get this benefit? Does the upfront outlay justify zero bills; and do you really want to go into a 5 year contract?
Mondo VPP Plans: Both Mondo VPP Plans offer decent upfront discounts on your battery. But what brand of battery are they offering? Also, you’d need to delve into the detail on how much they’d draw from your battery and how often.
SonnenConnect: is a quality battery and comes in a variety of sizes. It is a premium battery in terms of the cost per kilowatt hour of storage so you’d need to check the overall value you’re getting from this plan. Sonnen know what they’re doing with VPPs as they have a lot of experience of VPPs in Europe. Their batteries are solid but, depending on size, you may need more than one battery to power your home through the night.
Tesla Energy Plan by Tesla: We recommend the Tesla Energy Plan, particularly if you are a fan of the Powerwall battery. The Tesla Energy Plan is Australia’s largest Virtual Power Plant. It provides regular monthly credits as well as an extra 5-years warranty on the Powerwall battery bringing it to 15 years in total. The plan also ensures you have a minimum 20% back-up reserve in your battery in the event of a grid outage.
Unlike other plans, with the Tesla Energy Plan you can purchase your solar panels and battery from the Solar Retailer of your choice. We think that’s an advantage because you can shop around for the best Tesla-accredited Solar Retailer with the best prices and services to meet your needs.
Get in touch for a quote and VPP advice
If you are interested in joining a Victorian VPP and purchasing a suitable battery, get in touch. We are a Clean Energy Council accredited Solar Retailer and have CEC accredited solar and battery installers on our staff. We supply and install several leading battery brands and can advise you on which is best for your home and budget.