Solar power is certainly becoming Australian's renewable energy source of choice, with solar panels, solar hot water, and solar thermal systems gaining popularity. Since there are many renewable energy rebates and credits available (varying across the States), and with increasing solar cell efficiency, the cost of installing a solar system has dropped.
In addition to the obvious electricity cost savings, other benefits are:- A Solar System will increase the value of your home (its also detailed on a sustainability report when selling)
- Knowing that you produce electricity with zero carbon emissions
- Your home remains cooler in summer because the system protects the roof's surface from direct solar radiation.
- Offset future electricity bill increases and know your power usage is in your hands
While everyday Australians can't immediately stop the coal being burned in this country, we can now replace much of our own fossil fuel needs with energy from the sun. As more people take up solar panel and solar hot water systems, our hungry thirst for coal will gradually reduce.
Most businesses or residences opt for a and#8216;grid connect' solar power system. This is where you are still connected to the mains power supply. An 'off grid' solar power system is completely separated from mains power and needs a deep cycle battery bank for storing electricity.
On a 'grid connect' solar PV system, when you have more sunshine and less energy usage, any amount above your household's usage is fed back at a minimum rate set by each State. So you're paid for any excess! And it's not taxable either.
There are two types of feed in tariffs. A and#8216;net feed in tariff' pays the solar PV system owner only for surplus energy they produce. A and#8216;gross feed in tariff' pays for each kilowatt hour produced while connected to the grid, so it's the more generous tariff.
Each State has varied regulated tariffs for unused power. Queensland has the Solar Bonus Scheme, giving 44 cents per kWh as the net tariff on each phase of power supply, up to 10kW.and#160; That's three times the price that consumers pay for power (16c kWh). There are some conditions to the Bonus scheme, including a maximum consumption of 100 MWh per year (which is 10 times the average) and an agreement to have adequate metering installed.
Recently NSW slashed their gross tariff from 60c down to 20c/kWh. While 44c per kWh for Queensland may seem generous, unfortunately Australia lags behind other nations in solar production owing to these fairly low rates. But check with your local electricity retailers for their specific "feed in tariff", because they normally offer a bonus few cents on top.
We also advise to choose solar-friendly electricity retailers, because after installation you need to access feed in tariffs without being penalised in another way. If you are worried about losing the off-peak electricity rates by installing solar, the fact is we are all going to lose them as the nation gradually moves to smart meters and time based metering.
With electricity prices forecast to rise by up to 60% in some regions, many Aussies are considering the return on investment on installing solar panels.
Because it depends on the feed-in tariff available to you and the amount of energy your household consumes, payback time for solar panels varies widely. That said, most solar electricity systems will have paid for themselves within 5-7 years.
In addition, with a grid-connected solar PV, you might go on holiday and come back to a healthy credit on your connected electricity account.