While incentives for solar power systems have been winding back recently, there are still a number of key incentives available. In particular the Solar Credits scheme which brings down the up front cost of systems and the National Solar Schools Program which provides funding for schools to install solar power systems and energy efficiency measures.
The Solar Credits scheme allows solar power system owners to create additional renewable energy certificates which can then be sold or assigned to the installer in return for an up front discount on the system price. The Solar Credits scheme multiplies by 5 the number of RECs which are be produced by systems up to 1.5kW. Systems greater than 1.5kW will receive the multiplier on the first 1.5kW and the standard number of RECs for any additional capacity.
The scheme applies to all systems installed after the 9th of June 2009 which do not also receive funding from the previous, discontinued SCHP rebate. Both residential and commercial systems are eligible so long as there are no other solar power systems installed at the site and the system is not funded under some other scheme such as the NSSP.
Since the Solar Credits scheme is market based, value of the credits will vary over time. Currently a 1.5kW system in Sydney or Canberra would be eligible for an upfront discount of approximately $2,800 and a 5kW system would be eligible for an upfront discount of approximately $5,000.
Feed in Tariffs
Feed in Tariffs (FiTs) are schemes which pay a higher rate for electricity generated by solar power than that paid by the customer for electricity consumed from the grid. NSW and ACT had very generous FiTs which have now been closed to new applications. Existing customers under these schemes are not affected.
National Solar Schools Program (NSSP)
The National Solar Schools Program (NSSP) officially commenced in July 2008 and offers grants of up to $50,000 for any school in Australia to install solar power systems as well as other eligible items such as rainwater tanks and a range of renewable energy and energy efficiency measures. Schools need to install a 2kW PV solar power system or larger to be eligible for the full $50,000 grant. If no solar power system or a system of less than 2kW is installed, a grant of up to $30,000 (GST exclusive) is available to be spent on eligible items. Schools may only receive the grant once.
Funding is competitive with applications submitted in funding rounds from which the most competitive applications will receive funding. Therefore it is very important to work with an experienced partner for these applications and projects such as Autonomous Energy. For more information on solar for schools, please click here.
For more information on the National Solar Schools Program please click here.
Renewable Energy Credits
Renewable Energy Certificates (RECs) are a financial instrument designed to increase the proportion of electricity generated from renewable sources and to make renewable energy more cost competitive with fossil fuel electricity generation. RECs can be thought of as the ‘green' component of the energy produced by renewable generators. Some companies such as electricity generators are required to surrender a certain number of RECs based each year under the Mandatory Renewable Energy Target (MRET). Most of these come from wind farms which sell the electricity they produce as well as the RECs. The RECs provide them with an additional income stream that helps make the wind farm viable.
Small scale systems are also eligible and can ‘deem' up to 15 years worth of RECs up front. A fundamental difference between a wind farm and a residential solar power system however is that while the wind farm exports virtually all of its generated electricity and is happy to sell the ‘green' component of it, a residential solar power system owner generally wants to use the ‘green' electricity themselves. Selling the RECs would mean that someone else is using the ‘green' part of their electricity, effectively meaning that despite having a solar power system on their roof, the owner is still coal powered. This is simply because two parties can not both claim the rights to the ‘green' component of a solar power system – this would be double counting.
Autonomous Energy's philosophy towards RECs is to inform our customers of what RECs are and the implications of selling them and to then let our customers decide what course of action they wish to take.
Autonomous Energy can facilitate the sale of your RECs to a registered REC agent. Since they are a traded commodity rather than a rebate the value changes over time. Currently a solar PV customer could expect to receive around $850 per kilowatt for their RECs.