Federal election 2019 results: what does it mean for solar and batteries?

The federal election results are in; the Morrison government will continue to lead our nation – now with a majority government. Energy policy has been an uncomfortable place for the coalition. So what does this all mean for Australia’s solar industry?

State governments will pave the way

The Coalition has regularly stated that they have no intention of replacing the Renewable Energy Target (RET) when it expires next year. But fortunately, state governments appear ready to step in. South Australia continues to lead the way, currently on track for 73% renewable electricity by 2020, Tasmania and the ACT both have renewable energy targets of 100% by 2020, and Victoria and Queensland (traditionally some of those most reliant on brown and black coal) have pledged 50% renewable energy by 2030.

For Victorians, roof-top solar continues to become more affordable with the Andrews government set to introduce phase two of the Solar Homes Package this year. Rebates for solar panels, heating and batteries means a greater incentive for Victorians to make the energy switch and move towards a solar powered future. Applications for the rebate reopen on 1 July, with interest-free loans for 50,000 properties across Victoria, and savings of up to $4,850 for solar battery systems. Read more about the Solar Homes Package.

In New South Wales, the Empowering Homes program, which includes a $3.2 billion investment in renewables, offers interest-free loans to install solar energy and battery systems for 300,000 households, over ten years. Likewise, Queenslanders can access interest-free loans of up to $10,000 for solar and battery systems, and South Australia’s Home Battery Scheme offers a subsidy of up to $6,000 on the cost of a battery for 40,000 households.

The power of water

The Snowy Hydro expansion is part of the Coalition’s $3.5 billion climate solutions package, set to drive down energy prices, and help cut Australia’s emissions. But what does the power of water mean for solar? It delivers a clean and cost-effective way to store energy from the sun or the wind. By using renewable electricity to pump water uphill, it can be stored and released downhill to turn turbines and produce electricity when it’s needed. The investment will support 888 megawatts of new solar and wind farms to be built across NSW and Victoria, generating enough clean power for 500,000 homes. And it will drive down prices, by pre-purchasing the electricity from these farms at lower-than-average wholesale prices.

While the intermittency of solar and wind may be a technical challenge, large-scale energy storage systems like Snowy Hydro can store and support these new energy technologies to ensure reliability. Examples of energy storage systems in action can already be seen across Australia, including the Hornsdale Power Reserve, the world’s biggest lithium-ion battery built by Tesla in South Australia. The giant battery has already saved almost $40 million in costs of stabilising the grid, helping to prevent blackouts, and generally restoring confidence in energy supply.

Australia’s solar future

Right now, there are over 2 million solar rooftops across Australia – and solar batteries aren’t far behind. An overwhelming majority of Australians are wanting their energy to be powered by renewables, such as solar. While the Federal Government does not have direct policies that subsidise rooftop solar and batteries, state governments are continuing to make renewable energy accessible and affordable, feeding the solar boom across the country. It’s safe to say that the solar revolution is here, and it’s here to stay.