The Sunshine Coast, Queensland, is a great place to install a solar PV power system. Queensland residents who install an eligible solar PV systems are currently eligible for the most generous Solar Feed-in Tariff in Australia, at 44c for every kilowatt-hour of solar power exported to the electricity grid.
Why is the Sunshine Coast a good place for solar power?
Lots of sunshine means lots of potential for Sunshine Coast homes to harness solar power
The Sunshine Coast receives an an average of around 4.2 hours of full sun per day, making it one Australia’s sunnier cities, as well as one of the best places to install solar PV. 4.2 hours of peak sun means that, with a 1.5kW solar PV array, a home will generate 6.3kWh per day on average. A 3kW system will produce around 12.6kWh per day, and a 5kW system (the maximum capacity allowed under the Solar Bonus Scheme) will produce around 21kWh per day.
Household demand varies by the size of family and the appliances used and how frequently, but let’s say that an average 3-person home uses 20kWh per day, averaged over the course of a year. This means that with a 5kW solar system, the home’s energy production is just about covered by the system’s output. This is why, when considering whether and how to go solar, one of the first questions a homeowner will ask themselves is ‘Do I want to offset my electricity bill, or cover it completely with my solar power system output?’
This is a decision that ordinarily depends on the amount of capital that of capital that a household has at its disposal for making an investment in solar power. At the moment, solar PV systems offer superb returns on investment, thanks to strong government incentives and record-low cost of components.
More sunshine means more up-front Federal Government Solar Rebates
The amount of the Solar Rebate depends on a number of factors. Under the Federal Government’s Solar Credit Scheme, households are awarded a greater or smaller number of Renwable Energy Certificates (RECs, also known as Small-scale Technology Certificates), depending on their location, the size of the system that they install, and the REC price agreed on between the customer and solar installer. (REC prices fluctuate–although customers do have the option to hold on to the RECs generated upon completion of their installation and wait for the price to rise, most usually opt to have their solar power system installer take on the liability in order to receive upfront discount on the system installation.)
A 5kW solar power system installed on the Sunshine Coast, located in REC Zone 3, would result in eligibility for a base number of 103 RECs/STCs, but when the Solar Credit REC Multiplier is taken into account (currently 2x until 1 July 2013), the system would pick up an additional 34 bonus credits, bringing the grand total to 149. With an assumed REC price of $30, this means an up-front discount of $4,470. With solar PV system prices at unprecedented lows across Australia and the world thanks to increased competition and a glut of stock, solar systems are a very wise investment for the right households and businesses.
Returns from Queensland’s Solar Bonus Feed-in Tariff Scheme for Sunshine Coast residents
Depending on the electricity usage of the household, solar-generated power could save a Sunshine Coast resident a significant amount of money on their power bills. Queensland currently has a 44c/kWh net Solar Feed-in Tariff–although this may not always be the case. This means that for every kWh of electricity that a solar system feeds into the electricity grid, the the owner is paid or credited 44c, which is (at least for now) more than twice the average retail rate for electricity in the state.
It is important to bear in mind that time management with regard to electricity use is integral to squeezing the most financial benefit of solar power. Since it is a net feed-in tariff, households are only paid for the excess energy fed into the electricity grid. However, homes also save money every time they use electricity directly from their solar panels (referred to as self-consumption). In fact, as time goes on and electricity prices rise in Queensland, it will start to make more financial sense to opt for self-consumption over export, because self-consumed solar power will in effect be worth more than 44c thanks to the savings it affords. This means that even in the event that Queensland’s Solar Feed-in Tariff rate is reduced, solar is a safe and rewarding investment for homes and businesses.
Update 10 July 2012: The Queensland Solar Bonus Feed-in Tariff rate has been reduced to 8c/kWh, but returns on investment for a solar PV system are still good, especially in light of the rising cost of electricity. What are the economics of solar power in the Sunshine state under the new rate?
How can I find the best deal on Solar Power in the Sunshine Coast?
Solar Choice, as Australia’s free Solar Energy Brokering and advice service, connects solar PV customers with installers who service their area. We provide comprehensive quote comparisons of solar power installations throughout the country–including in the Sunshine Coast. With a bird’s eye view of the solar power market, Solar Choice is uniquely poised to identify the best deals on offer and facilitate our customers to find the solar system that best suits their needs and budget. Request a Solar Quote Comparison today by filling out the form to the right of this page, or call us on 1300 78 72 73. Queensland State Manager Henry Walcott can also be contacted directly on 0406 979 853, or via email: firstname.lastname@example.org.
Download a Solar Power System ROI Calculator for the Sunshine Coast, Queensland
How to use the calculator*:
1. Download one of the files below,
2. Open in Microsoft Excel or Google Docs,
2. Request a Solar Quote Comparison of the solar system installers in the Sunshine Coast to obtain system prices,
3. Visit SwitchWise or a similar site to find the best deal on solar electricity,
4. Find out which electricity retailer is offering the best solar Feed-in Tariff rate in Queensland,
5. Alter the variables in the light blue boxes (system size, system price, etc) in column B to calculate system Return on Investment (ROI).
(You may also open the file in Google Docs if you have a Google account.)
*Calculator outputs are indicative only–please keep in mind that electricity rates, as well as Queenslands’s Feed-in Tariff rate, may change over time.
Sunshine Coast Solar Power System Return on Investment Calculator (Excel .xls file, can also be opened with Google Docs)
© 2012 Solar Choice Pty Ltd
(Top image via Wikipedia)
He holds a master's degree in Environmental Management from UNSW, and a bachelor's degree in Philosophy from Bridgewater State University in his native Massachusetts.
He currently works remotely for Solar Choice from New York City.
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