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A great step for renewables in the Territory

For months you've joined us and NT solar industry leaders in calling for central battery storage for the Darwin-Katherine grid. At market stalls during the Johnston byelection, in meetings, calls, emails and Facebook posts, we told the Government we need battery storage to help provide reliable power to thousands of Territorians and facilitate renewable energy. 

And guess what? Yesterday, the NT Government finally approved procurement of a large-scale battery for the Darwin-Katherine grid. 

We see this as a good step forward in the government's implementation of the Roadmap to Renewables and reaching the government’s renewable energy target of 50% by 2030. 

And a big thank you to our volunteers that dedicated many hours campaigning for central battery storage at Rapid Creek Markets and to all our supporters that made their voices heard. 

The battery energy storage system (BESS) will have a project cost of $30M and is expected to pay for itself in approximately five years. The procurement process will begin in the coming months with the project expected to be operational in the second half of 2022. 

We now call on the government to embed into the procurement process support and use of local Territorian businesses. 

In addition to the announcement of a large-scale battery, the Government has released other changes designed to encourage the uptake of household battery.  

Batteries store energy when there is an excess of electricity generation, and at other times draw on that energy. They’re useful because for many households peak energy demand tends to be in the evenings coinciding with low to no solar generation. (This may be less the case for Territorians now working from home due to the Coronavirus crisis.) 

Until this announcement, there hadn’t been a strong incentive to install a battery in your home or business because the Territory had a one-for-one feed-in-tariff that was among the most generous in the country. 

Effective immediately for all new behind-the-meter solar installations of up to 30kW in size is a new feed-in-tariff of 8.3 cents per kWh. (An important side note: all businesses and households who currently receive the premium one-for-one FiT will continue to do so. They will only surrender the premium FiT if they upgrade the capacity of their system, move premises or take advantage of the battery subsidy.) 

8.3 cents per kWh is a huge drop, so in order to support the continued uptake of renewable energy we are calling on the government to implement an optional time-of-day tariff. 

A time-of-day tariff prices electricity differently depending on the time of day. During peak times, such as during weekday evenings when the network is most congested, electricity costs the most. With a time-of-day tariff, that peak period could become an opportunity for solar and battery owners to sell energy back to the grid and get the most bang for their back from their investments. 

A time-of-day tariff will continue to encourage greater uptake of rooftop PV and battery storage systems and could enable consumers to reduce their electricity costs during the most expensive times of the day, promote energy efficiency, and increase reliability and security by reducing demand pressure on the system at times of high demand. 

The Government has also announced a $6000 grant available to households and businesses for the purchase and installation of solar PV systems with eligible batteries and inverters, or for those who already have solar, for batteries and inverters. An initial allocation of $800,000 will be provided for the scheme, funding grants for about 130 batteries. 

In the scheme of things, 130 batteries across the Territory doesn't sound like too many – which is why we’re encouraging the Government to continue to support the uptake of solar panels and battery storage through an optional time-of-day tariff.  

It’s one thing to install solar and batteries, it’s another to know how to maximise this smart technology! Did you know you could time your household appliances (such as pool pumps and washing machines) to shift your energy use and take advantage of when you have an abundance of solar energy or in the future, a time-of-day tariff? 

Our COOLmob energy efficiency education and auditing programs have been well received by Territorians and the Northern Territory Government should support expanding our programs to promote a similar scheme for solar PV and battery systems. 

Another great reason many Australians are choosing to install batteries is to shore up their own energy supply. With the right type of installation, solar panels and battery storage can transform your house or business into a standalone system and maintain your energy supply during blackouts. 

Read the Government's full release on this announcement: More batteries, more renewables, more local jobs.

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