New South Wales to support battery uptake (and VPPs) with interest-free loan program

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The New South Wales government has kicked off the consultation phase of its Empowering Homes Program, which will incentivise uptake of battery & solar+battery installations with interest-free finance. An eligibility requirement for the program is that the equipment used must be ‘virtual power plant capable’.

The government anticipates that the first round of installations under the program will begin this summer, with loans of up to $9,000 available for battery-only installations or up to $14,000 available for battery and solar+battery systems, subject to eligibility criteria.

The interest-free loan approach replaces an up-front incentive style program (‘Smart Energy for Homes & Businesses"‘) that was initially floated by the government.

The government is currently soliciting feedback on the proposed design and roll-out of the scheme, publishing a ‘Market Sounding Paper’ as well as a ‘Technical Specifications’ document to begin the consultation process.

Virtual power plant capability to be a requirement for eligible equipment

SwitchDin is encouraged that the government has incorporated considerations for virtual power plant (VPP) readiness into its initial conception of the program, and intends to prepare a submission on this aspect of the scheme’s design.

Below is an outline of the proposed requirements from section 4.5 of the Technical Specifications document:

The program’s intention is for inverter based DER systems to eventually comply with IEEE 2030.5 when this standard is adopted by industry. This is currently set for January 2020. Equipment providers may be given an opportunity to “upgrade’ systems to this standard post installation, if this can be achieved via remote software upgrade within 3 months of install.

VPP capability shall be included as part of the installation of a battery.

As per the government’s proposed requirements, key aspects defining VPP capability include:

  • Internet accessibility

  • Remote registration

  • Remote control

  • Operational commands including charge/discharge, scheduling, site import/export, ‘enhanced’ solar self-consumption, and charge/discharge modulation by volt-var, volt-watt & frequency-watt response modes.

SwitchDin’s Droplet controller provides an off-the-shelf, vendor-neutral, VPP-ready energy management system compatible with a broad range of popular battery & inverter brands.

SwitchDin is already in the process of building IEEE 2030.5 compliance into our Droplet controllers and Stormcloud platform, and our technology ticks the boxes for the specific requirements as an off-the-shelf, vendor-neutral energy management system compatible with most popular inverter & battery brands.

As we have noted here, virtual power plant programs - coupled with battery incentives - will help to improve the investment case for households considering battery storage. This in turn will build scale for VPP program uptake and accelerate the realisation of additional battery storage value streams as battery system prices continue their gradual decline.

Work with SwitchDin to offer your customers more

Get in touch to learn about how SwitchDin can help you to enable VPP-readiness for your customers. We work with energy companies, battery manufacturers, system integrators and solar installers (among others) to make it possible.