Peter Dutton’s Home Battery Claim Half-Baked

Opposition leader Peter Dutton’s assumptions about home battery performance could do with some tweaking.

In a doorstop interview on Wednesday in Brisbane and in reference to Minister for Climate Change and Energy Chris Bowen, Mr. Dutton said:

“He wants you to throw out your gas oven, he wants it to be replaced with an electric oven. The electric oven, unless you’re using the oven during the day and you’ve got solar panels, if you’re using the oven at night time it’s going to be running off fossil fuels because the battery lasts about 45 minutes. It doesn’t get you through the hours of darkness.”

How big is the oven and how small is the battery Peter Dutton based on this assessment? And was this also a half-hearted attempt to create kerfuffle with an Australian version of the USA gas stove ban hoax?

Electric Oven Vs. home battery

We don’t have a solar battery yet and we don’t use our electric oven very much, opting to use a microwave and air-fryer mostly for that sort of work as there are significant electricity savings to be had by doing so. But I checked the power rating for our electric oven, and according to the label:

Electric oven power rating

So, 2.56kW. This means over an hour of use the oven will consume a maximum of 2.56kWh. But that’s only if the element is constantly on, and that’s not how electric ovens work in practice. Once the oven reaches the desired temperature, the element switches off for a bit until the temperature drops enough that it needs to kick in again.

But for the sake of this argument, let’s call it 2.56kWh for that hour of use, including warm-up time.

Now let’s look at a popular home battery – the Tesla Powerwall. It has a usable capacity of 13.5kWh. This means a fully charged Powerwall could run our oven for around *5 hours*. It’s not a great use of a home battery if there are other options, but it points to the “about 45 minutes” claim as whiffy at best.

On the SQ solar battery comparison table there are a bunch of home batteries available in Australia with 10kWh+ capacities. Where there are products with quite low capacities, these are usually modular systems intended to host multiple units in situations where an energy consumption profile requires more capacity.

Glass Houses And All That

Something else Peter Dutton said in response to the same question eliciting the home battery performance claim that needs to be called out again:

“The government was elected with a policy to reduce your power prices by $275,” said Mr. Dutton. “The Prime Minister promised it on 97 occasions and he’s never mentioned that figure or that promise once in the eight or nine months since he’s been elected. So, I just make that very important point.”

PM Albanese may be regretting that commitment even if Labor still has a couple of years to make good on it given the way electricity prices are tracked. Considering world events at the time and with a bit of probing, Labor could have exposed what was actually going to occur (in the reasonably short term anyway) no matter who was in power and perhaps gracefully re-jiggered this; as tricky as it may have been.

This is another “very important point” – there was a trap waiting.

The Liberals’ own electioneering right up to just days before the 2022 federal election stated “we are now turning the corner on power prices” – meaning things were looking good. They were anything but and given the circumstances, I suspect the Morrison Government had at least a pretty solid heads-up about it.

Peter Dutton’s predecessor was well known for pushing alternative interpretations concerning energy and related topics. For example, back in 2019 Scott Morrison said Labor’s embracing of electric vehicles would “end the weekend”. This statement didn’t make SQ’s Ronald’s subsequent “Top 10 EV Myths” article because, as Ronald put it:

“it was too stupid to make the cut.”

If Peter Dutton is trying to differentiate himself from Scott Morrison, he may be going the wrong way about it as it’s starting to sound more like the same.

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