How To Claim STCs
You can claim small-scale technology certificates (STCs) by assigning them at the point of sale to a registered agent like a retailer or solar installer. Each STC claim is unique to an installation. However, you can make more than one STC claim if you use different addresses for each installation.
Going solar has a powerful financial incentive. The Australian federal government introduced STCs to save you money when you switch to renewable energy before the end of 2030.
With STCs, you can save a chunk of the upfront costs when installing solar power systems. How big the ‘chunk’ depends on your location, the application date and the STC cost.
Unfortunately, some unscrupulous installers and retailers have used STC programs to exploit innocent solar system owners. They have been deliberately misinforming system owners for their economic interests.
You will not fall prey to these unscrupulous businesses if you have the correct information. That’s why we share everything you need to know about STCs.
This article will cover:
- how much STCs are worth
- the requirements for STCs
- how to claim as an individual
- how to claim through an accredited agent
- and how much you can save by going solar
Let’s dive in!
What are STCs?
Small-scale Technology Certificates (STCs) are part of Australia’s Solar Credits program, which fall under the Small-scale Renewable Energy Scheme (SRES). In this initiative, you could be eligible for renewable energy certificates for every megawatt-hour (1000 kilowatt-hours) of renewable electricity.
The small-scale power systems that are eligible for STCs are:
- solar panels
- solar water heaters
- hydro systems
- air source heat pumps
- wind turbines
Though infamously called ‘rebates’, STCs are federal government incentives for going solar. Different territories or states may have additional incentives at the local level.
The government introduced STCs in 2011 as part of the Australian Renewable Energy Target. Their purpose is to lower the cost of solar installations in our homes and commercial buildings.
The STC program is ongoing until the year 2030. Since 2019, the value of the STCs has been reducing by 8.3% annually. It will continue reducing until the STC value reaches zero by the end of 2030.
If you’re in a position to purchase and install solar before the program’s end date, you’ll have time to maximise the benefits of the solar power system.
How do STCs work?
STCs begin from your solar installer. When you purchase a solar system, the quoted price is most likely a discounted value. This value is the final price after STCs.
When you purchase a solar panel after STC, you assign the certificate to a third party like a retailer or solar installer. The third-party makes a claim by placing the certificate with an aggregator. This initiates a 4-week process (or less) of converting the STC into money.
The solar retailer or installer usually places this claim by combining STCs until they’re about 5,000 STCs. This is roughly 50 installations. Once they do this, they place the STCs on the market using the current price.
Presently, the price ranges between $35 and $40. The current price depends on supply and demand of STCs.
Once the installer places a claim on STC, the client’s role is to pay for the after-STC value of the solar PV system. Note that this after-STV value depends on your geographical location and the year of application.
What are the requirements for claiming STCs?
The Clean Energy Regulator outlines the following requirements for claiming STCs:
- The installation occurred within 12 months at the date of applying for the STC
- The Clean Energy Council (CEC) has approved your solar power system.
- The installation meets Australian standards provided by the CEC and requirements at the territory, municipal and local state levels.
- You are using CEC-approved inverters and solar panels.
- The installation has a maximum capacity of 100kW.
- The installation was done by a CEC-accredited solar contractor such as Instyle Solar.
The CEC also outlines the installation requirements for retailers and solar retailers.
- Compliance with CEC code of conduct
- Compliance with standards for different components or processes such as lighting protection, structural design actions, secondary batteries and electrical wiring
- Fulfilling the design-stage and installation stage standards.
Beyond installation, the Small-scale Renewable Energy Scheme provides document requirements for all small-scale system installations. For instance, it specifies that once a certificate is created, you should retain all forms, invoices, reports, photographs, and compliance statements for at least 5 years.
The Clean Energy Regulator can issue a random request for any of these documents to help them verify STC eligibility.
Further, the installation and documentation requirements are applicable in all Australian territories, states and municipalities.
It is worth noting that you can become ineligible for STCs if your solar system and installation does not meet these requirements. Verifying these details with an approved solar installer would help you avoid this problem.
You can find more information about the installation and documentation requirements for earning STCs from the CEC regulator.
How do I claim STCs?
In most cases, system owners do not directly claim STCs. This is because the quoted price of your solar PV system often has STC. When you purchase an after-STC system, you assign the certificate to your accredited installer, who will initiate the claim.
STCs do not operate like cheques or bank orders. Your installer or retailer can claim STCs through a clearing house or open market.
Trading through a clearing house has its benefits:
1) The Clean Energy Regulator controls the operations.
2) There is no need for buyers and sellers to negotiate sales.
3) STCs are only sold when a buyer appears. The certificates are added to an STC transfer list when there is no buyer.
4)The current maximum price of an STC has been set at $40.
An agent can also choose to trade through the STC market. The merits of trading in the STC market are:
1) Buyers and sellers interact more. They negotiate and agree on a direct sale.
2) You can make a quick sale if there’s a ready seller.
3) Market supply and demand determine the daily certificate price.
One challenge with the STC market is that there are no regulations. The Clean Energy Regulator does not supervise transactions or regulate the open market.
Nevertheless, you can estimate the number of STCs for a solar water heater using the REC Registry Calculator.
Should you claim STCs yourself or through a registered agent?
It is easier to claim STCs through a registered agent. Registered agents have the networks and the cash flow to sell STCs to a liable entity (such as large polluters) as recognised by the Renewable Energy Target.
Claim through a registered agent is appropriate when:
- You need help trading the STC in an open market or clearing house.
- You don’t have time to engage in the trade
- You need to predict cash-flow
You need an easier way to claim a large STC amount upfront.
At the very least, a registered agent would need to have a REC registry account for trading STCs. The agent has also cultivated the skills and experience to trade STCs in a clearing house or the open market.
You could also claim STCs yourself if you are the solar system owner. If you choose to sell as an individual, you could find yourself bound by the documentation and installation requirements.
Claiming STCs through an agent
This is a popular option among retailers and small-size installers. Your agent can be an installer or other third party with a particular skill set, such as aggregator or system wholesale.
Steps for claiming STCs through an agent
- The client or system owner assigns his/her STCs right to the agent. In most cases, the owner has purchased the solar system at a pre-discounted price (after-STC).
- If you’re not registered for GST as the owner, then you cannot make a claim on GST credit.
- If the system owner has GST registration, then they can make a taxable supply and assign their STCs.
- You can then sell or transfer STCs after paying GST on the trade.
How to claim STCs yourself
If you’re interested in doing it all yourself, you can choose one of two options:
- Register yourself and get a trader to sell
- Register and sell everything yourself
Steps for Claiming STCs Yourself (Using a Trader)
- Become a REC agent. It is ideal to start applying early because it can take a few months or longer.
- Create the first 250 STCs via the REC registry.
- Audit these registered STCs. After the first 250 certificates, any additional one would need to cost at least 47 cents. This would be the baseline cost for each additional certificate. With this baseline, you can predict your business profit.
- Negotiate the STC price with traders. Offset the certificate costs by negotiating a higher price, say $1.
- Use the REC Registry to transfer ownership of the STC to the trader via REC.
Steps for claiming STCs yourself (without a trader)
- Sign up for the REC registry.
- Create STCs
- Place the STCs in the market. You could have them in a clearing house or sell them to big polluters directly.
- If you sell via the STC clearing house, you’ll get a guaranteed amount (excluding the GST). If your spot price is in the $40 range, then those liable to pay have an added incentive to buy your STCs.
- Your certificates are added to the list of STCs. This list is processed on a first-come, first-served basis.
- Wait for official communication of a sale. You may receive an email alert.
- Receive and verify that your account has received money.
- Maintain all the paperwork involved. This will cover you when you face an audit from the Clean Energy Regulator.
When can you claim STCs?
You claim STC rebates at the point of purchase from an accredited retailer or solar installer. This rebate is a discounted value of the price of the solar power system.
Can you claim STC twice?
Yes, you can claim STC twice. This applies when you are applying for additional credits on a second installation.
The condition for claiming STC more than once is that both installations should not share the same address. So you would need separate sub-lot addresses for each installed system.
If the solar structures are listed on the same address, you’ll not be eligible for claiming STC more than once.
How are STCs calculated?
From our projections, if you purchased a 6.6kW solar power system in 2021 from Melbourne, you would have been entitled to 78 STCs.
With $39 as the projected price of an STC, you would save $3,042. This saving is offset from the buying price.
If you choose to buy the solar system in 2022, you’d have to consider the compounded yearly reduction on the STC value.
In 2022, the STC incentive in Melbourne would have dropped to 70. If we estimate the price of an STC will be $39, then your total rebate would be $39 X 70 = $2730.
In 2023, the incentive would have declined between 8% and 10%. This leaves you with a lower rebate compared to the 2021 rebates.
Other than the year (time), other factors that could affect the STC price are:
- The rebate value
- The geographical zone
Each zone has its unique multiplier. Here’s a summary:
What is the current STC price?
You can check the current STC price of solar installations with this online STC price calculator. Once you know the current STC price, you can calculate the incentive quite easily.
See our detailed tips on how you can calculate the STC incentive here.
Is there GST on the STC rebate?
No, there is no requirement to pay GST during STC registration. You may, however, be required to pay GST during the purchase, sale and assignment of the STC.
Before you make an STC claim, you will need to verify that you have satisfied all the requirements. Otherwise, your eligibility may be declined.
It’s much easier to let a professional provider like Instyle Solar do all the heavy lifting. We are a CEC-accredited solar retailer who can install your solar power system and claim.
Contact us to learn how we can help you!
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