Wollongong, just south of Sydney, is a good place to install a solar PV system, even after the collapse of the state’s Solar Bonus Feed-in Tariff scheme. The cost of installing a solar power system has never been lower, and there are up-front financial incentives available through the Federal Solar Credits rebate scheme, so purchasing a system has never been more affordable. What’s more, rising electricity rates across Australia mean that returns on investment for solar-equipped households and businesses will continue to improve as time goes on.
Advantages of owning a solar power system in Wollongong
Harnessing Wollongong’s sun
Finding the best deal on solar PV in Wollongong, or anywhere in NSW, requires an understanding how a solar PV system could potentially benefit a home or business. Solar panels produce electricity only when there is sunlight, and how much electricity is generated depends on its intensity and duration.
As an annual average, a rooftop in Wollongong receives around 3.9 hours of sun per day–although this number will be higher in summer and lower in winter, and accordingly so will the output of a solar power system. With a 1.5kW solar array, 3.9 hours of peak sun will give around 5.85kWh of solar power. A 2kW system in Wollongong will generate approximately 7.8kWh of electricity, while a 3kW system in Wollongong will produce around 11.7kWh per day, and a 5kW system will generate around 19.5kWh per day.
Home electricity consumption vs solar PV system generation in Wollongong
Household and business electricity demand varies by the number of occupants and use patterns through the day. However, for means of explanation, we can assume that a 3-person home consumes an average of about 20kWh per day averaged across the year. A 5kW system in Wollongong would therefore produce enough power to just about cover a home or business’s electricity consumption (provided all electricity is consumed during the day).
Since Wollongong residents do not have access to a Solar Feed-in Tariff, the wisest course of action for a home or business is to 1) install a solar system that will not generate more electricity than the occupants require, and 2) endeavour to use as much solar energy as possible as it is being produced–i.e. during the daytime when the sun is out. Although some electricity retailers do credit customers 6-8c/kWh for solar electricity exported to the grid (and NSW’s Independent Pricing and Regulatory Tribunal has made its final recommendation for a ‘fair price for solar’), these are nominal offerings. By consuming solar power as it is generated, however, building occupants avoid the need to purchase electricity from the grid. In effect, this makes each kWh of solar power equivalent in value to each kWh of power bought from the grid.
Federal Government Solar Rebates for Wollongong, NSW
Under the Federal Government’s Solar Credit Scheme, solar systems are awarded a greater or smaller number of Renewable Energy Certificates (RECs, also known as Small-scale Technology Certificates or STCs). How great the solar rebate is depends on the location, the size of the system in question, and the REC price agreed on between the system owner and solar installer. STC prices are flexible, fluctuating with supply and demand. Installation companies will usually tell customers what price they give per STC when initial pricing details are settled on. (STC prices are also clearly listed in Solar Choice’s Solar Quote Comparison sheets.)
Most of Wollongong is located in REC Zone 3. (REC Zone and applicable STCs can be calculated for free on ORER‘s website.). A 5kW solar system installed in Wollongong would, for example, generate a base number of 103 RECs/STCs. After the Solar Credit REC Multiplier (currently 3x until 1 July 2012) is included, however, the total number of STCs generated is (103 + 93 =) 196. Assuming an STC price of $30, a rebate of $5,880 off the up-front price of the system is applied. This up-front discount is one reason that solar PV system prices are reaching unprecedented lows across Australia and the world.
Saving money on power bills via solar PV systems in Wollongong
Grid-connected NSW residents can see financial advantages from having a solar PV system installed by lowering their power bills. Since the Solar Buyback schemes in NSW are not available through all electricity retailers, and even then only at a nominal 6-8c/kWh rate, the main benefits of going solar in NSW come when occupants can ensure that electricity is consumed while the solar panels are generating power. In essence, this means that solar is a great choice for businesses and residences that are occupied during the day. Power is first drawn from the solar system, and only the excess, unused power is fed into the electricity grid.
The future of the NSW Solar Bonus Feed-in Tariff Scheme
Since the abrupt conclusion of the NSW Solar Bonus Feed-in Tariff scheme, there has been no state government-mandated incentive for small-scale solar power. The Solar Bonus Scheme is currently under review, but a final recommendation from IPART was released on 14 March 2012. The recommended rate is between 5 and 10c/kWh, and is not a state-mandated rate. Instead, NSW residents are encouraged to find the retailer who offers a favourable rate through the state government’s My Energy Offers site.
Finding the best solar deals in Wollongong
Good return on investment and short payback periods on solar PV systems depend first on finding the best deal possible on a solar power system. The best bet is to find a reasonable price for a reasonable quality system. Brokering the best deal on solar power installations is what Solar Choice does best, with a network of over 70 installers Australia-wide.
Solar Choice’s head office is located in Manly, NSW. However, as Australia’s free Solar Energy Brokering and advice service, Solar Choice matches up potential solar PV customers with installers who service their area–anywhere in Australia, including Wollongong. With a bird’s-eye-view of the solar market, Solar Choice is in a great position to identify the best deals on offer and help find the solar system that best suits a customer’s 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.
Download a Solar Power System ROI Calculator for Wollongong, NSW
How to use the calculator:
1. Download the Solar Choice Wollongong Solar PV ROI calculator (Excel file)
2. Request a Solar Quote Comparison of the solar system installers in Wollongong 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 NSW,
5. Alter the variables in the light blue boxes in the calculator (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 NSW’s Feed-in Tariff rate, may change over time.
© 2012 Solar Choice Pty Ltd
(Top image copyright Matt Malone via Wikipedia.)
He is now the communications manager for energy technology startup SwitchDin, but remains an occasional contributor to the Solar Choice blog.
James lives in Newcastle in a house with a weird solar system.
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