Today there are more than two million Australian households with rooftop solar.
More people are making the switch to save money. Added benefits, like becoming less reliant on the electricity grid and climate change are also driving factors.But despite the benefits, the initial costs of installing solar can feel expensive. Luckily, there are government rebates and incentives to put more money back into your pocket.If you're still on the fence about embracing solar, there's no denying the long-term financial gain. Australia has become a renewable energy powerhouse. Those who make the switch are rewarded with financial support, green energy anda sustainable way to generate your own power from natural resources.
Here's how to get the most of your panels with subsidies.
How Much Can You Save with Solar?
Investing in solar panels reduces your power bills between 30% and 60%.
Typically, they take three to eight years to pay off. How much your household saves depends on:
- Battery size
- Available sunlight
- Position of panels, roof angle
- Electricity prices
- System cost
- Amount of self-consumption
- Feed-in tariffs
- Your retailer
High-quality solar panels have become more affordable. A 5kW system install costs about $6,500, saving a household $1,300 to $1,800 per year. Smaller systems (3kW) have potential savings of $800 to $1,200. Costs vary depending on where you live and how many panels you need.On average, a four-person household uses about 18kW per day on a year-round basis, but this varies between seasons.
Renewable Energy Scheme
The Small-Scale Renewable Energy Scheme (SRES) provides home and small business owners with financial incentives across Australia.
It encourages more people to install a small-scale system, like solar panels or wind and hydro, by legislating demand for Small-Scale Technology Certificates (STCs).
The scheme covers:
- Incentives for small-scale solar (residential and commercial under 100kW)
- STCs to stimulate the demand for solar in households and small businesses
How to claim:
- Check accreditation and approval for your system and its components to tick safety and quality boxes
- Use a Clean Energy Council licensed solar installer who will claim the benefit (STCs) on yourbehalf and apply the reductions to your system, this process is best-practice
- No one is means-tested under this scheme
Small-Scale Technology Certificates
STCs come with a dollar value and reduce the upfront costs of solar. The government allows for these certificates to be sold at an average price of $30-$40. The higher the STC price, the more rebate you get back, which is paid directly into your bank account.
They were introduced in 2011 to help meet Australia's renewable energy target. STCs are a leading driver behind the solar boom and a financial push in the right direction.
The amount of STCs you can get depends on a few factors; where you live, the deeming period(which decreases yearly) and market value. On average, a 6.6kW system gains about 100 STCs ($38 per STC). This gives you a rebate of $3,800.
Use this tool to calculate how many certificates your system could earn.
- The value of STCs fluctuates with market conditions
- When you buy a system, the price is listed after STCs
- STCs are turned into real money, usually a 4-week process
- The renewable energy target and STCs are facilitated via the REC Registry which creates, validates and transfers the certificates
- STCs are slowly phasing out (7% each year), but they will still be available until the end of 2030
Tip: Be wary of solar retailers and installers who create urgency to buy with the lowering STC amount.This is a gradual process that started in 2017 and won't make a huge impact until 2030.
To claim you need the following documents:
- Solar system invoice (mandatory)
- Compliance certificate for electrical safety, provided by your installer (mandatory)
- A clear photo of barcode label (only if asked)
Feed-in tariffs are government payments for electricity fed into the main grid by a renewable energy source. Some electricity retailers offer them as well.
Rates and conditions from these tariffs are dependent on what state you live in. For example, in NSW the tariffs are only payable on system generated power, not off-peak electricity.
- There is no one program for Australia, benefits change between states
- Some retailers offer an extra incentive over the government amount
- GST isn't payable on the income generated from feed-in tariffs
- The average rate is 6c to 16c/kWh, depending on the retailer
How to claim:
- Check state-by-state requirements
- You must be connected to the grid within the National Energy Market
- Compare deals between retailers
State Government Incentives
Some states also offer further solar financing and incentives.
In the ACT, residential homes and businesses get discounts for battery storage installation, from The Next Generation Energy Storage Program. Other states such as SA, NSW and Victoria are eligible for environmental upgrade financing, which is for solar and/or battery storage. Unfortunately, WA has no other rebates beyond the federal STC incentives.
Although solar power was expensive and out-of-reach, it's become the leader of electricity. Solar is now more cost-effective than power generated by new coal and gas developments in most countries.
If you want to save money, utilise renewable clean energy and be part of a bigger future, solar power is a sustainable investment.
Written by Jayde Walker
Image: Deposit Photos / supplied by author