Queensland offers several incentive programs that make solar power more affordable. There are two solar rebate programs and interest-free loans for solar power and energy storage.
Queensland Solar Rebate 2020
As of 2020, there are two solar rebate programs available in Queensland:
- The nationwide Small-scale Renewable Energy Scheme, which offers Small-scale Technology Certificates (STC) for solar power systems up to 100 kW.
- The Queensland Solar for Rentals program, which offers rebates for landlords.
The STC rebate is available in all states and territories of Australia, not only Queensland. For every 1,000 kWh of estimated production between their installation date and 2030, solar power systems are awarded one STC. These credits can then be sold to electricity retailers, who have the legal obligation to purchase them under the Renewable Energy Target from the Clean Energy Regulator.
Each STC sells for around $35 to $40, and a 10-kilowatt system earns around 150 STCs as of 2020. This leads to a rebate of $5250 – $6000, equivalent to $525 – $600 per kilowatt of solar generation capacity. Solar power systems in Australia cost around $1600 per kilowatt, before applying any rebates. Therefore, the STC rebate reduces their upfront cost by around one-third.
If you live inland, closer to the Australian desert and far from the QLD coast, you may earn more STCs for a given solar power capacity. Consider that STCs are calculated based on system size, but the local sunshine is also considered.
If you need further information about the Small-scale Renewable Energy Scheme, please visit the Australian Government Clean Energy Regulator website.
QLD Solar for Rentals
The Queensland Solar for Rentals program offers an additional rebate for landlords and real estate developers. Since the program is still in a trial phase, there are several conditions:
- Only 1,000 solar installations will get the benefit initially, and they must be completed before June 30, 2020.
- The rebate is $2500 for solar power systems with at least 3 kW of capacity. The amount increases to $3000 at 4 kW of capacity, and $3500 at 5 kW or more.
- A solar monitoring system is mandatory for participating properties.
- Only one rebate is offered for each property, but landlords with multiple properties can claim an individual rebate for each.
- Currently, the rebate is only available for properties in the Bundaberg Regional Council, Gladstone Regional Council, and Townsville City Council.
- Participating properties must be detached or semi-detached, and must have their own roof space and power meter. They must be properties that currently have tenants, with a rent of no more than $350 per week.
- After the solar power system is installed, the landlord and tenant must renegotiate the contract for at least 12 months, reflecting a fair rent increase that transfers some of the solar savings to the landlord.
- A 5-kW solar power system in Queensland would get an STC rebate of around $3000, combined with the $3500 rebate from Solar for Rentals. If the solar system price before rebates is $8000, the net cost drops to only $1500, or $300 per kilowatt.
The Solar for Rentals program was created to incentive the use of solar panels in rented properties, which have been a difficult market for the industry. Tenants have little incentive to install solar panels on properties owned by someone else, while landlords have no incentive to purchase solar panels when tenants keep all the savings.
If you need further information about this solar rebate in Queensland, please visit the Solar for Rentals website from the QLD government.
QLD Interest-Free Solar Loans
In addition to the rebate programs previously described, Queensland has also offered interest-free loans for solar power and energy storage. While these funds must be paid back, they offer a major benefit compared with bank loans – not paying interest. Applications for 2019 closed on June 30, and funding for 2020 has not been announced yet. However, 2019 applicants could claim the following benefits:
- Solar power systems: Loans up to $4500 with a 7-year term.
- Battery systems: Grants up to $3000, loans up to $6000 with a 10-year term.
- Solar power + batteries: Grants up to $3000, loans up to $10,000 with a 10-year term.
This is only informational since new applications are not being accepted as of early 2020. Consider that these are the latest values used in 2019, and they may change if more financing is announced. Regardless of the installation type – solar power, batteries, or a combination – the product itself and the installer must both have approval from the QLD government.
If you need further information about interest-free solar loans in Queensland, please visit the official program website from the QLD government.
Queensland Solar Power Feed-in Tariffs
Feed-in tariffs (FIT) are the rates paid by energy retailers for supplying excess solar power back to the local grid. High FITs can be considered a type of solar incentive since consumers benefit from installing more kilowatts of capacity. On the other hand, when FITs are low, consumers will purchase a smaller solar capacity to avoid surplus generation.
Most FITs are established freely by energy retailers, but local governments may introduce a minimum tariff. Regional Queensland has a minimum FIT of 7.842 cents/kWh, but South East Queensland does not have a minimum tariff. As of early 2020, solar power feed-in tariffs of up to 20 cents/kWh can be found in QLD.
For exact & current feed-in tariffs, visit your energy retailers website as they all vary slightly.
The following is a simplified example that illustrates the effect of FITs on the financial performance of solar power systems:
- Assume a 10-kW solar power system produces 15,000 kWh per year, but the owner only uses 70% of that energy (10,500 kWh). The other 4,500 kWh is exported to the grid.
- If the electricity price is 25 cents/kWh, the 10,500 kWh result in savings of $2,625.
- With a minimum FIT of 7.842 cents/kWh, the 4500 kWh of surplus generation will yield $352.89 in additional savings. However, this is increased to $675 with a more favourable FIT of 15 cents/kWh.
- With the minimum FIT, the total savings are $2,977 per year. However, with the higher tariff of 15 cents/kWh, this increases to $3,300 per year (11% higher).
This is just a basic example, but it demonstrates how feed-in tariffs affect the annual savings obtained with solar power. A qualified company like Instyle Solar can estimate how much you can save based on the specific energy consumption and location of your property.
If you need further information about solar feed-in tariffs in Queensland, please visit the QLD government official website.
You might also be interested in our blog that addresses the current Solar Rebates for all Australian states – ‘Solar Rebates 2020’