Australia has one of the highest take up rates for solar in the world. There’s good reason for this. Other than the abundance of sunshine, we’ve had a number of rebates and schemes in place to help us adopt solar panels. Some of them are coming to end; some of are still available. In this post we’ll demystify which subsidies are available to help make installing solar even more affordable.
Feed-in-tariffs … getting paid for excess production
When you think of solar, you usually think of savings. You own a house, you install solar, it offsets daytime electricity and over time the savings pay off the investment in panels.
To accelerate the benefits, feed-in-tariffs have traditionally paid, sometimes very high, rebates to homeowners for exporting unused or excess power from a home, back into the grid.
But feed-in-tariffs are being wound back in most States. These once generous 60c/kWh tariffs have been replaced with discretionary 4c or 6c tariffs.
This is a lot less than your peak grid electricity rate, better than nothing but it really means that for solar to work, you need to be at home during the day to get the benefit of the savings that are created.
Are there any rebates that help with the install cost?
You may have heard about solar subsidies being cut. In most cases people are referring to the State-based feed-in-tariffs being reduced but there’s still a valuable scheme available to support the installation of new solar systems.
Officially called Small-scale Technology Certificates or STCs, this federal scheme reduces the upfront cost of solar power by providing credits based on the size of system installed.
Its worth around $700 per kW installed. That’s a saving of $3,500 off a typical 5kW system. And happily, it is in place until at least May 2017.
The exact value of the saving depends on the market price for STCs at any given time and your location. Your solar installer will be able to tell you what you can get and will credit you at the point of sale to make things easy.
The only criteria for claiming STCs are:
1) Your system is less than 100kW in size (average residential installs would be 3kW to 5 kW in size);
2) You get it installed and designed by a Clean Energy Council accredited professional; and
3) You use panels and inverters that are approved for use in Australia by the Clean Energy Council.
So what does mean for Digital Solar installs
To recap how Digital Solar works: a landlord installs solar on their rental property and during the day, tenants pay their landlord for lower cost solar electricity rather than grid power.
Unlike a traditional owner-occupier that benefits from a combination of savings and feed-in-tariffs, with Digital Solar value is created when a tenant switches their daytime grid electricity to cheaper, solar power. Tenants save on their energy bills and landlords recover their investment in solar. You can read more about the maths here.
It’s possible for the tenant (or landlord) to get a feed-in-tariff in addition but the real value is created when daytime electricity use is from the solar.
And how do STC rebates help? Well, a landlords’ business case for Digital Solar is driven by their tenant’s electricity tariff, the amount of daytime solar they use and the installed cost of solar. If it costs less for a landlord to install solar, their payback will be reduced and there’s more value to be shared.
Our online business case calculator takes into account the current price of STCs, so if you’re interested in seeing what you could save, or if you’re a landlord, what you can make, why not give it a go?