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NSW Government Revamps Solar Feed In Tariff Scheme

27 October 2010 2 Comments

Effective midnight tonight, the NSW Government has announced a revamping of the Solar Bonus Scheme. Here’s the official press release.

Under the scheme, NSW households and businesses were paid a gross feed-in tariff of 60c per kWh for solar electricity they generated and supplied to the grid. That was ALL electricity generated, since it was a gross metering scheme.

This was an extremely generous scheme, and made installing solar electricity an extraordinarily good investment for NSW households. Combined with the 5xRECs federal rebate scheme, most systems would pay themselves back completely in under 4 years!

Such a good deal couldn’t last forever.

The scheme has now been wound back to a 20c per kWh gross feed-in tariff. Anyone who had committed to purchase of a system by midnight tonight (e.g. by paying a non-refundable deposit and signing contracts), and who applies to join the program within the next 21 days, will still receive the old 60c per kWh tariff. Many suppliers announced they were staying open to midnight to give customers as much chance as possible to qualify!

It will be interesting to see how this plays out for the Australian solar industry. It’s been a mad goldrush in NSW for many months, with solar installers pulling out all stops to sign up as many people as they could while the scheme was in operation. None would claim they didn’t see this day coming, but it’s sure going to put a damper on their businesses. They’ll have a backlog of installations to complete over coming months; after that there won’t be anywhere near the same level of interest.

Unfortunately, I wasn’t able to get in on the action. We bought solar panels for our previous house under the old SHCP rebate scheme, which made us ineligible for the 5xRECs scheme – even though we bought a new house and no longer own the previous one. Bummer.

2 Comments »

  • Gus said:

    I am about to install a 1.5kw system in NSW. I am still a little confused about nett and Gross feed in. Will I be credited for any electricity produced on a net system. Since I will be using most electricity at night I am not sure which to choose.

  • Darren (author) said:

    @Gus: Gross metering means you are paid for everything your solar panels generate (e.g. with 5 hrs of effective ideal sunshine, a 1.5 kW system will generate 7.5 kWh of energy per day, and that’s what you’ll be paid for). Net metering means you are only paid for the electricity you produce over and above what you consume – I believe this is calculated in realtime, not totalled up over the day. So if you have net metering and use 5 kWh during the daylight hours, you would get paid just for the 2.5 kWh you exported to the grid. Obviously under this setup it’s best to try to shift your electricity consumption to night-time as much as possible (e.g. don’t run your dishwasher, clothes washer, column heater, etc during the day, only at night).

    Note that under a net system, you would not be paying for the 5 kWh you consumed in the above example – you generated it yourself. So in the end, it all comes down to the price you are paid for what you generate, the price you are charged for what you use (which may vary depending upon the time of day, making it even more complicated!), and your usage pattern throughout the day. Usage patterns and generation patterns will vary with the seasons, too! You’d need to run the numbers and figure out which system will work best for your personal situation.