Victorian Solar Homes rebate brings back the stop-start 'solar coaster'

 
The Victorian government seems to have inadvertently resurrected Australia's solar coaster with its Solar Homes program, bringing back memories of feed-in tariff & STC multiplier application deadlines of yore.
 
Since coming into effect in July of last year, the Solar Homes rebate has helped to propel Victoria to an unprecedented position at the top of of the charts; historically, the state has had one of the slowest rates of solar uptake.
 
But as with many incentives, it's all fun and games until a deadline approaches or the funds/allotment run out. (Although we can also point out that - at least since the Abbott years - the steadily reducing but long-standing STC discount available through the national RET has been a great example of how an incentive can even-handedly support a market rather than engendering unnecessary volatility.)
 
For the Victorian Solar Homes scheme, the solar coaster reared its head for the first time in April 2019, when the rebates were exhausted for the financial year. This left a months long window with 'no oxygen' for installers in the state as many homes held out on purchasing a system until the program reopened in July - with interest-free loans and new incentives for home batteries & solar hot water systems.

How SunWiz has seen it

Charts below show just how dramatically the Solar Homes Package has impacted the Victorian solar market.
 
Chart 1 below shows the quote volume (in kilowatts) put through SunWiz's PVSell software for residential systems in select states relative to the same volume 12 months prior, making it a fairly accurate bellwether for consumer interest in solar. 
 
Editor: note we have identified a large part in the growth shown is due to rapid PVsell uptake. The chart below is smoothed and normalised, showing the average weekly residential capacity of our larger users. The growth is not quite as astronomical, but certainly shows the sales imperative created by the re-opening of the Rebate.
 
For many weeks from when the Solar Homes Package v1.0 came into effect in August, quote volumes were up by 150%. The clear exceptions are a) the Christmas holiday period and b) the weeks following the temporary closure of the scheme in April. Business started to pick back up again in late June as consumers readied themselves for its reopening - with a massive spike at the end of the month (300% over the previous year's volume for that week).
 
Chart 2 below shows the anticlimax of that moment, with the month's allotment of solar PV rebates running out in just three days. Under the new version of the Solar Homes Package (which was rejigged following April's chaos), the next round will be released at the beginning of each month. This means that customers and installers alike will once again have to hold their breath until 1 August.
 
 
 
While the Victorian energy minister has pointed out that rebates for renters, solar hot water and battery storage (in select post code areas) still remain, rebates for solar PV were by far the most popular - owing largely to the fact that PV systems are already mainstream, affordable and a good investment for most households even without the additional subsidy.
 
And Chart 3 shows the impact of the slowdown. It depicts the capacity of residential (sub-10kW) systems that registered STCs only in the first 24 days of each month (So we can show you a reliable comparison mid-way through July). You can see whereas all other states are on path to growth in July Some smoothing occurs due to a lag between installation and certificate registration, so most of the July registration will be from prior months' installations, so it will be interesting to see how the data pans out in coming weeks. 
 
 

How SunWiz can help

SunWiz has addressed Victorian solar retailers needs by developing services that will generate extra sales in this otherwise quiet time. We can help you generate business in system upgrades, battery additions, commercial sales, plus capture more of the available VSR rebates. Please contact warwick@sunwiz.com.au for more information.