More than two million Australian households now have a rooftop PV (photovoltaic) system – that’s one out of every five homes in the country. It’s not surprising there has been such a significant uptake in recent years, solar panel systems in Perth have never been more affordable thanks to Government solar rebates.
If you’ve been considering whether or not to install a solar system because you’re unsure about solar rebates, we’ve answered all the common questions below. Koala Solar has been installing solar panel systems in Perth for more than a decade and can help you better understand the solar incentives that may be available to you.
Why should I choose solar power?
The most common reason homeowners choose to install solar power is to reduce their seemingly ever-increasing electricity bills. A CEC-approved solar system will help reduce costs by reducing the energy required from the mains grid. Choosing renewable energy also helps reduce Australia’s greenhouse gas emissions, as well as our reliance on environmentally damaging energy practices.
With the economic uncertainty of a global pandemic, solar has also become an important home fixture for energy security. Many young families see solar as the norm on their home build to keep the family budget under control. With Australia’s Baby Boomers hitting retirement age, solar energy can be useful in managing the pressures of a fixed income. While other investments vary wildly (even housing prices can take a dip), we can guarantee that the sun will rise tomorrow, and solar can help keep the lights on.
Perth also has more sunny days than almost any other capital city in Australia, so our weather means that many solar systems in Perth can fully pay for themselves within 4-5 years, especially with a solar rebate.
How much will I earn or save with a solar rebate?
In WA, homes typically pay around 28-cents per unit, measured as a kilowatt-hour, of electricity used from the grid. A kilowatt-hour (kWh) is a unit of energy equal to 3600 kilojoules. By using power generated by your solar system, you’ll save that cost during daylight hours. If your solar system generates more than you use, your electricity provider will pay you for what you send back onto the grid.
Rates may vary between electricity retailers. In the Perth Metro area, the Feed-in Tariff is presently around 7.1 cents per unit. If you’re a regional homeowner, the rate can vary anywhere from 7.1c to 51c per kWh depending on your provider.
You’re probably thinking, ‘Why don’t I get paid the same amount for producing electricity as what I pay for it?’ According to the Western Australian Department of the Treasury, energy providers have to factor in the costs of maintaining the grid network (most solar system owners will remain connected to the grid) as well as their business systems such as call centres and metre reading. Grid maintenance includes upgrading poles, wires and transformers to cater to peak usage.
Even though the rapid uptake of home and PV systems reduces the load on the grid, most homes still draw on grid power during peak periods, such as late afternoons in the hottest few days of summer. WA’s grid systems must be maintained to cope with ‘peak periods’ – even though these are infrequent – to ensure there are no blackouts or brownouts during peak periods.
Those looking for increased energy independence might also look at battery systems. Lower prices and improved efficiency in SENEC battery systems means they are becoming increasingly popular for Perth family homes, or are installed as a ‘phase II’ of the system.
What is a solar rebate and how much do I get per kW size?
Solar rebate incentives differ between each state in Australia and change from time to time. Note, the STC solar rebate from a solar installer is not provided as cheque payment, but a line item discount on your quote that reduces the final payment of your solar system.
The national program delivers homeowners an installation rebate based around Small Technology Certificates (STCs). More commonly referred to as a ‘Government Solar Rebate’, the way it works is that you (the property and system owner) receive one STC certificate for every Megawatt the system is predicted to produce.
So, if a 5kW system were estimated to produce around 88 Megawatts over the following 11 years, as the owner you’d be entitled to 88 STCs. STCs can be sold on an open market that fluctuates daily, but you probably needn’t worry about that.
There is some complexity surrounding creating and selling STCs for small home systems. The CEC points out that ‘assigning the right to create small-scale technology certificates to a registered agent is the preferred option by the majority of system owners.’ It’s often a much simpler and faster process compared with trading the certificates yourself through the open market or STC clearinghouse.
As mentioned above, Koala Solar estimates the STC rate which is shown as an upfront reduction in the quoted price.
Is a solar rebate the same as feed-in tariffs?
Sometimes referred to as the “buyback rate,” feed-in tariffs refer to the money that energy companies pay for power generated by your environmentally-friendly power generation system. The amount you’ll earn depends on the kilowatts of electricity sent to the grid from any renewable energy source, including solar and wind. If you don’t use the energy as it’s generated, or store it on-site with a battery, your grid energy provider will reduce your energy bill based on what they receive.
After installation of a renewable energy system, we’ll assist you in applying to the relevant electricity distributor for a FiT which can be for either gross or net metering. In most cases, homeowners will choose net metering, where the FiT is deducted from their regular power bill.
Why do some households get paid a higher solar rebate?
Every home is different. The direction a property faces and the roof pitch will affect the energy generation capacity of your solar panels. The size and quality of the system also make a difference to your electricity bill, as do your household’s energy habits. The date that a system was installed can affect the feed-in tariff.
Some older systems are earning more due to a specific Feed-in Scheme that was open from July 2010 to August 2011. For systems that were installed during that period, the Government offered households an additional 40 cents per unit for their excess electricity, applicable for ten years from the installation date. The more generous rate reflected the higher cost of systems then, which could be up to three or even four times the price they are now. Once the Scheme reached the target of 150 megawatts of new generation capacity, the Feed-in Scheme closed to new applications.
The solar rebate and tariff rates are obviously lower now, but so too are the costs of a solar system installation. The quality and efficiency of solar tech has also improved since those older schemes have ended, meaning a fast ROI, especially in Western Australia’s fine climate.
What is the REBS scheme?
REBS stands for Renewable Energy Buyback Scheme. It’s the current scheme that offers eligible residential customers, non-profit organisations and educational institutions the chance to earn money as a credit on their bill for power generated and not used on site. REBS applies to smaller systems, between 500 Watt and 5kW.
To be eligible for REBS, your system requires:
- An approved, bi-directional meter
- All necessary approvals to connect your system to the grid
- A total generation capacity of 5kW or less
We’re happy to discuss if the REBS scheme will be applicable to your solar system installation in Perth, and what the estimated solar rebate might be.
Choosing the right solar installer
There are dozens of solar installers in Western Australia, so what makes a solar installer stand apart? Consider the following when choosing a solar installer:
1 – The warranty offered on the inverter, panels, battery AND installation.
2 – The installer’s policy around warranty repairs and remediation.
3 – Their experience in solar installation and ability to service the warranty.
4 – Whether they are independent operators or tied to a single brand/provider.
5 – Whether they are CEC-accredited electricians.
It’s also worth considering if the solar installer regularly carries out the types of installation you require. Some installers only have experience with small residential systems. Koala Solar carries out installations for individual homes, apartment buildings, warehouses and commercial properties. (By the way, if your body corporate agrees to a solar system installation, they may be eligible for an additional government rebate or discount.)
Getting a quote for a solar rebate in Perth
To get the full picture of what rebates you could expect, get a free quote for your solar installation. Koala Solar can visit you to carry out a detailed estimate of your home or business’s solar capacity. We also have a showroom at 5 Erceg Road, Yangebup, where you can browse the solar products available and ask any questions about your proposed solar installation.