Going solar in Tasmania
Over 24,600 homes in Tasmania have already installed solar panels on their roof. Generating your own solar electricity can:
- save you money on your home or business electricity bill,
- give you more control over future power costs, and
- make your personal contribution to the move to clean, sustainable energy.
Until 30 August 2013, Aurora paid 28.3c/kWh for solar electricity exported to the grid (the feed-in tariff or FiT). For systems ordered since this date the rate dropped to 8c and more recently to 6.1c.
The upfront cost of installing solar PV is reduced by the Renewable Energy Target. While this is currently under review by the federal government, most commentators expect at least the part of the RET that supports domestic PV to be retained.
When discussing purchase of solar PV make sure your supplier has the most recent information on these changes.
Is it still a good investment?
Recent reductions to the feed-in tariff only affect the value of electricity exported to the grid from your solar PV. The electricity that solar PV generates saves you up to 24.7c for each kWh you generate and use at the time it is generated. The economics of solar PV will be maximised if you:
- size your system so that you can use (rather than export) most of the electricity generated, and
move your electricity consumption to the time your solar PV is at maximum output. If you are not at home during the day, one way to do this is by setting timers on your dishwasher, washing machine and dryer.
How do I ensure a good quality installation?
Solar PV is a medium to long term investment. Make sure you do your research and buy a good quality system from a TREA member who:
- can design a system for your individual requirements,
- understands local Tasmanian requirements, and
- will accept responsibility for the total installation including relevant warranties.
Why should I buy from a local company?
A reputable local supplier should tailor a proposal that takes into account:
- Local regulations: do you need a building permit? Might your installation be affected by planning regulations including heritage areas?
- Tasmania’s electricity prices and feed-in tariff arrangements, including the implications of Aurora Energy’s different tariffs for light & power and heating.
- Your individual consumption patterns including the time of day you use electricity.
- Site specific issues such as shading and roof orientation and roof structure.
- Grid connection issues specific to your location.
Some internet and phone based solar sales companies will offer a quote without visiting your home, based just on satellite imagery of your roof. These companies may send installers from interstate once they have sold you a system, or may engage a local installer. Either way, important local factors may be overlooked and it can be harder to get ongoing support and warranty service.
How do I find a good supplier?
Members of the Tasmanian Renewable Energy Alliance are reputable local businesses that are either based in Tasmania or are national organisations with on-the-ground staff in Tasmania. Our members are listed at: http://tasrenew.org.au/about/members/
What about solar hot water?
Some TREA members can give you advice on solar hot water as well as solar PV.
What will I earn?
If you buy a 3kw system for $4345 and install it on a roof with ideal orientation and tilt it has the ability to produce 3547 kWh per year.
If you use 50% of the power at the 24.7c tariff and export 50% at 6.1c you will save $548 per year – ROI approximately 7.9 years.
If you use 70% of the power at the 24.7c tariff and export 30% at 6.1c you will save $678 per year – ROI approximately 6.4 years.
Case study – solar for small business
An IGA supermarket near Burnie in northern Tasmania has recently installed an 18 kW solar array. The system will produce 18,856 kWh per year saving the business nearly $5,000 per annum. As a 7 day a week business, solar is an ideal investment to save money and show their clean, green credentials.
With an ROI of 4.5 years even their accountant is smiling!
- How to connect to solar
TasNetworks information on requirements for connecting solar PV to the electricity network. Includes downloadable TasNetworks/TREA guide How to connect to solar energy
- Consumer booklets from the Clean Energy Council
The Clean Energy Council offers free, downloadable guides on buying solar PV for both households and businesses.
- Learn About Solar Power, Solar Quotes website
This site contains a series of well written introductions to issues around the choice and installation of solar PV.