In a rather ironic twist, Tesla and its Powerwall 2 battery have been added to the list of choices for South Australia’s Home Battery Scheme, which aims to provide subsidies to 40,000 homes. The inclusion of the Powerwall 2 battery to the subsidy scheme comes amidst the ongoing progress of Tesla’s ambitious Virtual Power Plant in the region.
The update, which was recently reported by One Step Off The Grid, noted that Tesla’s 13.5kWh lithium-ion home battery systems are now eligible for the full AU$6,000 (US$4,300) subsidy offered by the SA government. As an additional means to attract buyers, Tesla has set up a temporary stall at the Rundle Mall in Adelaide, to showcase its battery storage technology. As noted by the Australian-based publication, though, customers are being informed that the installation of Powerwall 2 batteries would likely involve a lot of waiting.
Solar Quotes’ Ronald Brakels, who visited the Tesla pop-up store, was reportedly informed that there is an estimated 12-week waiting period for Powerwall 2 batteries. Brakels further added that he was quoted AU$9,300 (US$6,600) for the installation of the batteries after the AU$6,000 (US$4,300) subsidy is applied. That’s still a substantial amount, and would likely be out of reach for some homeowners who are in need of a system that can lower their power bills.
This was among the concerns that were raised last year when South Australia’s Home Battery Scheme was announced as a possible replacement for Tesla’s Virtual Power Plant project. Not long after he was elected, South Australia premier Steven Marshall expressed his opposition to Tesla’s proposal of establishing a 250 MW/650 MWh virtual power plant comprised of 50,000 residential homes and Powerwall 2 batteries. As an alternative, Marshall proposed a subsidy program instead, which would lower the price of battery storage units for 40,000 homes.
“(Former Premier Jay Weatherill) was doing (Tesla’s Virtual Power Plant) for Housing Trust homes in South Australia… That’s not part of our plan. What we are going to do is provide a subsidy to get (those with) solar rooftops systems with some storage capacity,” Marshall said before shortly before he was sworn in last year.
Marshall’s plan had stark differences with Tesla’s plan for a Virtual Power Plant. For one, the battery subsidy would be offered to homes that are already equipped with solar panels. Apart from this, homeowners would be required to purchase their own batteries, albeit at a discounted price. Tesla’s Virtual Power Plant, on the other hand, plans to provide solar panels and Powerwall 2 batteries to 25,000 Housing Trust households and 25,000 private low-income homes for free.
Seemingly after receiving flak for his lack of support for Tesla’s Virtual Power Plant, Marshall eventually took a softer stance on the project. By the end of May 2018, Energy Minister Dan van Holst Pellekaan announced that the South Australian government would be pursuing Tesla’s Virtual Power Plant and Marshall’s Home Battery Scheme side-by-side.
Since then, Tesla’s Virtual Power Plant has completed its first phase, which involves the installation of solar panels and batteries to the first 100 houses in the system. Marshall’s Home Battery Scheme, on the other hand, was launched last October, and is expected to add up to 400 MWh of storage to the state’s grid when complete. Ultimately, the 400 MWh from Marshall’s Home Battery Scheme would be a nice addition to the 650 MWh of energy storage that would be provided by Tesla’s Virtual Power Plant once all 50,000 residential units are connected and online.