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Media release

Consumers investing in solar and batteries to control bills

New Australia-first research conducted in mid-2016, commissioned by Energy Consumers Australia, has looked at the motivators consumers have for investing in new technology like solar and battery storage.

A survey of 2,451 households was conducted by UMR with a sample of these households receiving onsite inspections. This was supported by related analysis conducted for the consumer body by KPMG.

Financial considerations were the primary driver with 92% saying they installed solar to reduce energy bills. Many said solar feed-in tariffs (80%) or government grants (74%) were also a factor in their decision to invest.

But the second biggest motivator was clearly a desire to become less dependent on traditional energy companies and ‘the grid’ (82%), while protecting the environment ranked fifth (72%).

The results for batteries were similar, with reducing household energy bills (73%) and reducing energy dependence (76%) on the grid the key reasons for installing or considering battery storage.

Energy Consumers Australia CEO Rosemary Sinclair said the results challenged our presumptions about consumers who were buying these technologies.

“There’s a lot of assumptions made about what motivates this group, but when we ask consumers directly, we find they’re a pretty mainstream bunch,” Ms Sinclair said.

“They’re looking for a way to cut their energy bills like everyone else and they’ve lost faith in the traditional market’s capacity to deliver value for money, and are taking matters into their own hands.

Ms Sinclair said these technologies are now being taken up in such numbers that consumer demand is driving significant change in energy markets.

She said batteries and solar are becoming more affordable and its coming quicker than many people in the sector expected. “We have gone past a tipping point, where many households either already say they have solar (15%) and batteries (5%) or say they are looking to install one of both of these technologies (34% & 27% respectively).”

“If we don’t listen to what consumers are telling us and monitor consumers’ experiences in this changing market, we’ll end up like other industries such as music and taxis where consumers and technology change shifts the ground under everyone’s feet and policy makers struggle to keep up with the transition.

“The market is moving faster and becoming much more complex, dynamic and consumer driven, so we need monitoring tools which allow us to manage the market in a different way.

“For example, while the solar market appears to be working well, policy makers need to be prepared to deal with any issues that could arise as demand for solar and batteries accelerates.

“Energy businesses also need to deliver value for money and align their products and services with consumer attitudes and preferences, or they risk missing the train.”

Ms Sinclair also said that as this market evolves, we must ensure that no-one is left behind.

“This means there is a need for innovation and policy solutions that directly address disadvantage,” she said.

The full research findings are available here and Rosemary Sinclair is available for interview.

Media Contact: Tim O?Halloran, 0409 059 617

Energy Consumers Australia was established on 30 January 2015 to advocate on national energy market matters of strategic importance and material consequence for energy consumers, in particular household and small business consumers.