The Queensland Competition Agency (QCA) has released its final determination on the 2014-2015 solar feed-in tariff for regional Queensland (i.e. the Ergon Energy network), raising the rate slightly from 6.3¢/kWh to 6.5¢/kWh. The reason for the increase is tied to slightly higher wholesale prices and higher distribution loss factor. In the unlikely event that the federal carbon tax remains in place, the rate will be around 9.1¢/kWh.
The change means very little to those considering going solar in the state, where homes and business who go solar have it in their interest to ‘self-consume’ as much of the solar energy that their systems produce as possible. Self-consumption of solar power for grid-connected homes will save a home around 25¢/kWh, while exporting excess power will earn them a credit of only 6.5¢/kWh.
The rate has been widely decried as insignificant and unfair because it does not account for the benefits that distributed solar generators confer to network companies and electricity customers more generally. Solar advocacy group Solar Citizens launched a campaign in an attempt to raise the rate for both regional and Brisbane-area solar homes (who are not guaranteed any minimum rate), but the QCA’s determination has remained fundamentally unaltered.
Queensland’s solar market nevertheless remains the most robust in the country, with cumulative solar capacity currently at around 800MW and growing. Around 11% of all suitable homes in the state–over 250,000 in total–already have solar panels.
© 2014 Solar Choice Pty Ltd