There are two main solar incentives available if you live in New South Wales. You can claim a solar rebate from the Small-scale Renewable Energy Scheme, which applies for all Australia. Also, the NSW government offers loans for solar power systems with batteries, and for adding batteries to existing solar installations. There is also a trial program that will install 3-kW solar power systems for 3,000 low-income households in specific regions of NSW.
New South Wales Solar Rebate 2020
New South Wales does not have a local solar rebate program as of 2020. However, solar power systems up to 100 kW can claim Small-scale Technology Certificates (STC) from the Small-scale Renewable Energy Scheme. Being a federal program, this benefit applies to all states and territories in Australia.
When a solar power system is installed, it gets one STC for every 1,000 kWh of estimated production, between its installation date and the end of 2030. This means that solar systems installed in 2020 get STCs based on 11 years of electricity production. These STC can then be sold to electricity retailers, who must accumulate a minimum amount under the Renewable Energy Target.
With the sunshine available in New South Wales, a 10 kW solar installation is earning around 150 STCs in 2020. Since STCs trade for $35 – $40 each, this is equivalent to a total rebate of $5250 – $6000, or $525 – $600 per kilowatt. Since solar power systems cost around $1600 per kilowatt in Australia, the rebate cuts their upfront cost by around 1/3.
More STCs may be earned if a solar power system is installed inland, farther from the NSW coast and closer to the Australian desert. Since STCs are calculated based on system capacity and local sunshine, sunnier places get more STC per kilowatt of capacity.
If you need further information about the Small-scale Renewable Energy Scheme, please visit the Australian Government Clean Energy Regulator website.
NSW Empowering Homes Program
New South Wales does not have a local rebate program beyond STCs. However, the Empowering Homes program offers interest-free loans for solar battery systems:
- New solar power systems with batteries are eligible for an interest-free loan of up to $14,000, which must be repaid in 8 years.
- Batteries that are added to existing solar power systems can claim a loan of up to $9,000, which must be repaid in 10 years.
The most affordable solar batteries cost between $500 and $600 per kilowatt-hour of storage capacity, without counting the solar panels. This means a loan of $9,000 can help finance a battery system with a capacity of 15 kWh or more. If solar panels and batteries are being installed together, the larger loan of $14,000 can also cover part of the cost of solar panels. All solar systems and individual dwellings have varied costs associated – based on how suitable the house or business is for Solar. Your chosen Solar retailer will be able to personalise your solar system and fees accordingly.
- For example, a 6 kW solar power system can be tailored to incur costs around $9600 before rebates and other incentives.
- The STC rebate can cover around $3600, potentially reducing the net cost to $6000.
- With an interest-free loan of $14,000, the remaining solar power cost could potentially be covered with $6000, while the other $8000 could contribute to financing a battery system.
(Note – In reference to the above 3 points, final solar & battery system fees are personalised to specific household and business eligibility and these mentioned figures should not be considered exact until you’ve had a personalised solar assessment).
The Empowering Homes program has the goal of enabling the installation of 300,000 solar battery systems within 10 years. According to the program website, it could draw investment of $3.2 billion, adding 3,000,000 kWh of energy storage capacity to the NSW grid.
The Empowering Homes program will cover all of NSW. However, in its first stage, the program is available in the following areas of the Hunter region: Cessnock, Dungog, Lake Macquarie, Maitland, Mid-Coast, Muswellbrook, Port Stephens, Singleton and Upper Hunter.
If you need further information about this solar incentive in New South Wales, please visit the Empowering Homes website from the NSW government.
NSW Solar For Low Income Households
New South Wales also offers the Solar for Low Income Households programs, which will deliver 3-kW solar power system for 3000 homes that qualify as low income. To apply for this program, homeowners must have a Pensioner Concession Card or a Department of Veterans’ Affairs Gold Card, while having an electricity consumption of at least 3600 kWh per year. The applicant must own the home where the solar power system will be installed, and homes that already have solar panels are not eligible.
The program is available in the following NSW regions: Central Coast, North Coast, Sydney-South, Illawarra-Shoalhaven, and South Coast.
If you need further information about this solar program in New South Wales, please visit the Solar for Low Income Households website from the NSW government.
New South Wales Solar Power Feed-in Tariffs
The feed-in tariff (FIT) is the rate paid by your power company for surplus electricity exported to the grid. When high FITs are available, they act like a type of solar incentive – consumers benefit from installing more solar panels and acting like a small-scale power plant.
The NSW government does not have a mandatory FIT for energy retailers, but they recommend a range of 8.5 to 10.4 cents/kWh. When comparing electricity providers in NSW, you will find feed-in tariffs up to 21 cents/kWh, while other providers don’t offer the benefit (0 cents/kWh).
Feed-in tariffs affect the financial performance of solar power systems. The following is a simplified example:
- Assume a 6-kW solar power system produces 9,000 kWh per year, but the owner only uses 70% of that energy (6,300 kWh). The other 2,700 kWh are exported to the grid.
- If the electricity price is 30 cents/kWh, the 6,300 kWh result in savings of $1,890.
- With a FIT of 10 cents/kWh, the 2,700 kWh of surplus generation will yield $270 in additional savings. However, this is increased to $675 with a more favourable FIT of 21 cents/kWh.
- With the FIT of 10 cents/kWh, the total savings are $2,160 per year. However, with the higher tariff of 25 cents/kWh, this increases to $2,565 per year (19% more). For a homeowner with no FIT, the annual savings are only $1,890 (13% less).
The operation of an actual solar power system is more complex since the production of surplus electricity depends on factors like the weather and home consumption. However, the estimated savings illustrate how FITs can affect the savings achieved with solar power.
*Numbers in the above calculations are estimate figures. For exact & current feed-in tariffs, please visit your energy retailers website as they all vary slightly.
If you need further information about solar feed-in tariffs in New South Wales, please visit the NSW government official website.
You might also be interested in our blog that addresses the current Solar Rebates for all Australian states – ‘Solar Rebates 2020’