There are two main forms of financial assistance that households receive for their solar panels:
- Small-Scale Technology Certificates (STCs), which are issued by the Federal Government when you install solar panels; and
- Feed-In-Tariffs for solar electricity you generate and send to the grid. Tariff schemes are managed by state and territory governments, and payments are made to you by your electricity retailer.
Small-Scale Technology Certificates
You receive STCs when you install solar panels on your roof. The number of STCs you get is based on how much solar electricity your system is expected to produce in the region where you live, over a period of 14 years.
STCs are issued by the Federal Government to recognise your panels’ contribution towards Australia’s Renewable Energy Target (RET). Under the RET, a proportion of the power that energy companies generate needs to come from renewable sources such as solar and wind. You can sell your STCs to energy companies, who can then count your solar panels as part of their contribution to the RET.
If selling your STCs sounds hard, don’t worry – it isn’t. Your solar installer will sell them for you, and will pass on the value of the STCs to you in the form of a reduced price for your panels. The reduced price is what your installer will quote you.
STCs have usually been worth around $30-$40 each, and a 3kw system receives approximately 50-60 STCs, making the total value of these around $2,000. The average 3KW system costs around $4,000, so if STCs weren’t around you’d actually end up paying around $6,000 instead.
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Solar panels work on a “use it or lose it” basis. If you don’t use solar electricity as soon as it’s produced (or store it in a battery for later use), you have to sell it to the grid. The Feed-In-Tariff (FIT) is the amount you get paid for each kw/h of solar electricity you send back to the grid.
Your electricity provider pays you for any electricity you send back. FITs vary between states and territories, and can also vary between different providers. The table gives you an indication of the rates to expect in different cities.
|City||Net Feed-In Tariff||City||Net Feed-In Tariff|
|Adelaide||15c per kw/h||Darwin||25.67c per kw/h|
|Alice Springs||25.67c per kw/h||Hobart||8.5c per kw/h|
|Brisbane||16.1c per kw/h||Melbourne||9.9c per kw/h|
|Cairns||9.4c per kw/h||Perth||7.135c per kw/h|
|Canberra||11c per kw/h||Sydney||12.5c per kw/h|
Table 1: Net Feed-In Tariffs by city as at 1 July 2018. Canberra rates sourced from Actew AGL. Sydney, Melbourne, Brisbane and Adelaide rates sourced from Energy Australia. Alice Springs and Darwin rates sourced from Jacana Energy. Hobart rates sourced from Aurora Energy. Perth rates sourced from Synergy. Cairns rates sourced from Ergon Energy.
You should note that the price you pay to buy power from the grid is normally around 20-30c per kw/h, which is a lot higher than the FITs you get from selling power. Therefore the more electricity you use during the daytime, when your panels are at work, the more profitable your panels will be.
Are Solar Panels Still Worth It?
Solar panel rebates aren’t as high as they were around 5 years ago, but panel prices have come down a lot since then too. We recommend installing solar panels if you can recoup your investment in less than 8 years. Some households will be able to achieve this, some won’t. A lot depends on where you live, your electricity usage patterns, and the price you pay for your panels.
Deciding whether or not to install solar panels is a 3-step process:
- Understand what’s involved: installing solar panels can be tricky. Our Buyer’s Guide helps you understand whether solar panels are right for your home, and what to look for when buying them;
- Get a quote: we can arrange up to 3 free quotes for you from local installers;
- Calculate your payback: plug your quote into our Solar Panel Savings Calculator, and work out how long it’ll take you to get back your investment. You can then decide whether or not to buy.