Sydney, NSW is home to some of the lowest solar power system prices in Australia. This article takes a look at solar PV prices and how to get the most out of having a system in Sydney.
Solar panel costs have come down for Sydney and the rest of the world
In the past 4-5 years, solar PV system prices have fallen dramatically around the world, making solar power at long last an economically viable energy option for homes, businesses and utilities everywhere from China to the USA to Australia. A huge number of Sydney homes have made an investment in solar power–and even the Sydney City government has gotten in on the action, with its own plans for a massive, multi-roof solar project.
Before: Solar incentives were key
While the business case for going solar once rested heavily on government incentives, these incentives have been steadily decreased. Most NSW residents who took an interest (or even just read the newspapers) are probably aware of the fact that the state had a generous solar feed-in tariff incentive scheme. For NSW, this scheme could arguably be called the main driver of the state’s solar PV installation boom, which ended abruptly with the state government announcing that the scheme would be scrapped with only a few hours’ notice. Since then, solar installations in NSW have continued steadily but without the hype created by a high-profile incentive scheme, fewer people seem to be aware that solar is still a worthwhile investment.
Now: Incentives for solar still important, but less so
These days, the homes and businesses in Sydney generally make the decision to go solar because solar systems are more affordable than ever. On the other side of the equation is the fact that grid electricity prices are sky-high. The relatively low cost of solar panels for Sydney homes & businesses means that in many cases it’s cheaper to get solar power than it is to continue purchasing power from the grid. This is especially the case if the home or business in question can manage to use a good proportion of its electricity during the daytime.
Of the government incentives that still exist, the federal government’s Renewable Energy Target (RET) remains the most important in keeping solar system prices down. In Sydney, the RET’s contribution to a system’s cost typically works out to be about $0.70 per watt (W).
How much does a solar system cost in Sydney?
Every month Solar Choice publishes data about solar system prices for all of Australia’s major cities–including Sydney–based on figures from our network of installers. Below is a table including system prices for Sydney from March 2014. (The most recent solar PV price index can be found here.)
The top table shows average system prices for Sydney in straight-up $ figures, while the bottom chart shows the prices in dollar-per-watt terms, which is frequently used in the industry to make it easy to compare prices of systems of the same or different sizes. Since 1kW = 1000W, the ‘low’ price for a 3kW solar system in the table below, for example, would be ($1.43 x 3000 =) $4,290.
What size solar system should I buy in Sydney?
The above prices might not mean a lot to you if you’re not sure which system size would be best for you. The best first step for those thinking about installing a system size is to look at a recent power bill. Your bill will show your monthly usage (in kilowatt-hours, kWh) and average daily usage, but the thing it will not tell you is how you use that electricity throughout the day, so some educated guessing is necessary.
The most common solar system sizes for a home are 1.5 kilowatt (kW), 2kW, 3kW, 4kW, 5kW and sometimes 10kW. As a rule of thumb, 1kW of installed solar capacity will generate about 3.5 kilowatt-hours (kWh, the same unit you’ll see on your power bill) on average throughout the year–so more in the summertime and less in the winter. A 2kW system would therefore produce about 7kWh of power a day on average, while a 10kW solar system would produce about 35kWh of power per day.
As an example: If your power bill says you used around 20kWh per day during the last billing period, and you think you use about 40% of your power at when the sun is down, you can assume that you use around (20kWh x .4 =) 8kWh per day. A properly-installed, tilted & orientated 2kW solar system would produce just about this much power and could be a good choice.
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