A scheme intended to make the transition to renewable energy less of a financial burden on Canberra households has dished out more than $60 million in loans this financial year.
More than 6300 households applied for the Sustainable Household Scheme, which provides zero-interest loans of between $2000 and $15,000 for products like rooftop solar, battery storage, electric heating and cooling, and electric vehicles.
The majority of the approved loans (3351) were for rooftop solar.
This was followed by electric heating and cooling (944), battery storage (476), solar and a battery system (876), and hot-water heat pumps (372).
Some loans were handed out for new (26) and used (23) electric vehicles and chargers (15) and electric stovetops (40).
Launched last year with a month-long pilot, the $150 million scheme gives eligible homeowners 10 years to repay their loans. There are also no upfront costs and zero interest associated with it.
Participants are required to attend a one-hour live online workshop as part of the application process.
The ACT is committed to achieving net-zero emissions by 2045. According to the government, the scheme alone has helped reduce CO2 emissions by 802 tonnes and has lowered the annual running costs of ACT’s households by more than $12.4 million.
It has also been able to generate about 25 MW of renewable power, catering to about 1.5 per cent of the Territory’s energy demand.
In April this year, the scheme also won the ACT Government’s national sustainability award.
Mondiaux Solar project manager Howard Lian knows firsthand just how popular the scheme is. He reckons the majority of the clients he’s dealing with are people who have acquired a loan through the scheme.
As the government’s data would suggest, most people are using the loans to purchase rooftop solar, although Mr Lian’s noticed an uptick in households coming back for a second go.
“With solar, the space on your roof obviously runs out so I’ve seen some homeowners applying for a second loan to get a battery to get even better value out of it,” Mr Lian said.
“Some customers are also considering heat pumps.”
That’s perfectly acceptable and even encouraged by the government, as long as the total loan doesn’t exceed $15,000.
Even if a household’s loan hits that threshold, it would only cost homeowners about $30 a week to pay it back over its decade-long lifespan, which Mr Lian said many of his customers saw as highly appealing.
“It’s nothing compared to the benefit you get from solar and a battery system,” he noted.
But he still thinks more could be done to advertise the scheme to older people as well as those who might not have access to the internet for whatever reason.
“It does deserve some more attention, I think – there are a number of Canberrans who don’t seem to know about it,” Mr Lian said.
“Maybe they need to have some more ads on the radio or on the TV.”