Adelaide Solar Update 22 July 2014

With the well publicised Federal Government review under way (and the findings to be released shortly) into the Renewable Energy Target and the abolition of the carbon tax there has been a lot of media coverage on the pro’s and con’s of small scale renewable energy systems including residential solar power systems. Adelaide has seen a massive uptake in solar panels installation over the last 7 years. This has largely been driven by the following factors:

  • Relatively generous solar feed in scheme (State Government) which paid people in S.A. installing solar systems for excess electricity, generated by the solar system, that was fed back onto the S.A. energy grid. This scheme has been wound back since 2013, in line with most other States and territories. The solar feed in tariff payment to solar system owners was very beneficial to system owners when a substantial percentage of the electricity produced by the solar system was not used within the home and was ‘exported’ back onto the electricity grid and payment was received for that electricity. Currently, electricity retailers are only obliged to pay the so called minimum retailer payment of 7.6 cents /Kwh which should drop to 6 cents with the repeal of the carbon tax. Hence solar system owners in Adelaide now benefit by using as much of the solar electricity generated by their system within their home – so as to reduce the electricity they need to draw from the grid – reducing their power bills.
  • Subsidisation for the cost of having a solar system installed. As part of the renewable energy target, subsidies (via generation and selling of renewable energy certificates as part of the Small Scale Renewable Energy Scheme) mean that there is a reduced cost to installing a solar system. Whether this will continue remains to be seen as the current reviews into renewable energy could impact the current scheme/s.
  • Concerns over price increases in electricity. Energy demand globally is increasing. There has been announcements recently (as an example) of hikes in natural gas pricing at wholesale and retail level. Solar systems provide a way of having a degree of ‘separation’ from state, national and international energy price uncertainties. Producing a reasonable percentage of your homes electricity requirement means having more certainty on your electricity bill for years to come.

Solar Power Is Here To Stay

It seems more likely than not that the long term benefits of solar panels systems in Adelaide will outweigh reductions in various state and federal based subsidisation. Solar system prices have decreased hugely in the last 10 years (where, for example, a wholesale price of a 200 watt mono crystalline panel has decreased in price from $800 to $130) and price trends for solar systems remain down. For homeowners having a substantial electricity demand during daylight hours – the time when a solar system is producing electricity, producing your own electricity via solar means that all, or a percentage of the homes electrical demand comes from the solar system. Many homeowners installing large (5Kwatt for example) systems intentionally change there pattern of electrical usage so that appliances like dishwashers, washing machines, swimming pool pumps and the likes are set to run during the daytime and that electricity is supplied predominantly from the solar system, meaning greatly decreased electricity bills. Most solar installation companies can determine the optimum solar system size (1.5Kwatt, 3 Kwatt etc) for you, based on your electricity usage, patterns of usage and historical electricity bills.
Adelaide Solar Power Update july 2014