See the light: Why more WA homeowners are opting for solar energy
More and more West Australians are realising the benefits of powering their homes with solar energy – and it’s no wonder given the cost and environmental savings?
Not only are there a range of incentives and rebates to make purchasing your own solar power system more affordable, but your hip pocket is likely to take less of a hit paying your regular electricity bills.
When it comes to installing a rooftop residential solar set-up, most homeowners are driven by the prospect of financial savings. So, crunching the numbers in advance to compare the initial outlay to ongoing savings may make the decision a whole lot more attractive.
In WA, the solar panel rebate can reduce the cost of a 6.6kW system by as much as $3700. But you will only receive the solar rebate if the panels and inverter you buy are listed on the Australian Clean Energy Council’s list of approved products and if it is installed by a CEC accredited installer.
Solar installers generally arrange applications for incentives and rebates, including the Federal Government’s Small-scale Renewable Energy Scheme, so customers receive a discount on the purchase price upfront (and save themselves any bureaucratic red tape).
According to Australian website Solar Calculator, which compares different solar systems and offers advice about new technology, Western Australia typically provides the fastest payback on solar power in Australia due to the vast amount of sun the state receives, high solar rebates and competitive panel prices.
“It is not uncommon to payback a system within four or five years, though there are many variables including your electricity usage habits and your property’s suitability for solar,” the Solar Calculator website says.
But that also depends on the position of the panels, electricity prices, household consumption and your solar feed-in tariff, which varies in WA according to your location. Savings estimates on your electricity bills vary from 30 to 60 per cent.
When the system starts generating electricity, the output is first used to meet your household consumption and excess electricity can be exported to the grid. When the system is not generating power, you will need to purchase electricity from your retailer at the regular tariff rate.
If you opt for a system without batteries to store power, solar-run homes will still need to be connected to the grid for power at night.
In WA, the Distributed Energy Buyback Scheme offers eligible customers a time of export payment for electricity they export to the grid, including from solar systems and batteries. Generally, the time of export means a higher buyback rate at peak times when electricity is worth more.
In January, WA Energy Minister Bill Johnston said WA households were embracing renewable energy technology at record rates, with 3000 homes installing rooftop solar panels every month.
“Over the past 10 years rooftop solar has increased by over 600 per cent, with 50 per cent of WA households expected to have solar panels by 2030,” Mr Johnston said.
More than 400,000 WA homes and businesses – around 36 per cent of all customers – now have rooftop solar connected to WA’s main grid. It’s estimated that the collective capacity exceeds the gross output of WA’s largest power station, Muja.
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