Solar Choice Price Index – October 2012

The Solar Choice Price Index is created using data from Solar Choice’s installer network database, this information is updated  based on the prices on offer from installers operating in Australia’s major capital cities (excluding Darwin and Hobart). At the beginning of October 2012, the average price per watt of an installed solar system in Australia, after subtracting the Federal Small-scale Technology Certificate (STC) ‘rebate’, was around $2.26.

Price per watt by city and system size

There is overall downward trend in the price per watt as the system size increases. The average price of 1.5kW and 2kW solar PV systems was $2.38 and $2.37 respectively, 3kW and 4kW systems continue to come in under $2.30 per watt, whilst the price per watt for a 5kW system decreased from last month and now averages at $2.13.

Solar Choice: Solar PV System Prices per Watt – October 2012               
1.5kW 2kW 3kW 4kW 5kW
Adelaide, SA $2.31 $2.26 $2.10 $2.15 $2.01
Brisbane, QLD $2.62 $2.52 $2.37 $2.40 $2.27
Canberra, ACT $2.29 $2.33 $2.14 $2.19 $2.07
Melbourne, VIC $2.82 $2.85 $2.62 $2.72 $2.55
Sydney, NSW $2.11 $2.08 $1.91 $1.95 $1.85
Perth, WA $2.10 $2.20 $1.99 $2.10 $2.00
ALL $2.38 $2.37 $2.19 $2.25 $2.13

Installed system prices by city and system size

Melbourne remains the most expensive city in which to buy a system, regardless of size. While Sydney continues to have the lowest system prices in the nation, October has seen challenges from Perth in terms of price-competitiveness of systems. For a 1kW system, the price in Perth even comes in just slightly cheaper than in Sydney.

Solar Choice: Average Solar PV System Prices – October 2012
1.5kW 2kW 3kW 4kW 5kW
Adelaide, SA $3,460.44 $3,549.33 $6,293.44 $8,609.80 $10,070.15
Brisbane, QLD $3,925.06 $5,040.52 $7,124.91 $9,595.87 $11,353.98
Canberra, ACT $3,440.67 $4,662.33 $6,409.00 $8,774.00 $10,357.33
Melbourne, VIC $4,236.56 $5,693.00 $7,862.67 $10,611.22 $12,753.89
Sydney, NSW $3,168.17 $4,151.50 $5,743.17 $7,798.00 $9,248.17
Perth, WA $3,155.83 $4,399.01 $5,963.33 $8,400.97 $10,020.47
ALL $3,564.46 $4,582.62 $6,566.09 $8,964.98 $10,634.00

System price highs and lows

System prices continue to have a wide spread, with the cheapest 5kW system being less than $2,000 more than the most expensive 1kW system.

Chinese panels continue to dominate low-to-medium-priced systems across all size ranges, German, Korean and Australian panels were the most expensive. There has been a glut of Chinese panel stock for some time, believed to be caused by Chinese Government solar industry subsidisation. It has been estimated that the oversupply will not be absorbed until 2015, although the Chinese Government has raised installation targets in an attempt to take up some of the slack.

European inverters–German models in particular–are spread across all system price brackets.

All system sizes can now be produced using Australian solar panels but these come with the greatest system cost.

Solar Choice: Solar System Prices Max and Min – October 2012
1.5kW 2kW 3kW 4kW 5kW
Min $1,995.00 $2,995.00 $4,799.00 $6,199.00 $7,850.00
Max $6,090.00 $9,190.00 $12,190.00 $17,490.00 $20,490.00

Average STC discounts

The average STC price offered by installers across the country at the beginning of this month was around $26. Higher values offered were generally around $30 – $32. The low for all system sizes was $23.

STCs are a type of renewable energy ‘currency’ created under the Federal government’s Renewable Energy Target. When commissioned, solar systems in sunnier regions are allocated a greater number of STCs, whilst those in less sun-blessed areas (such as Victoria and Tasmania) receive fewer.

STC value varies according to supply and demand. In most cases, installers themselves assume the liability these price fluctuations and pass the value on to customers in the form of a discount off the up-front cost of a system. Depending on how much of the liability they are prepared to take on (as well as on other aspects of their pricing structure), different installers routinely offer differing nominal amounts per STC.

Solar Choice: Average STC discount – October
1.5kW 2kW 3kW 4kW 5kW
Adelaide, SA $26.43 $26.43 $26.29 $26.43 $28.43
Brisbane, QLD $26.17 $26.17 $26.17 $26.17 $26.17
Canberra, ACT $26.75 $26.75 $26.75 $26.75 $26.75
Melbourne, VIC $25.94 $25.94 $25.94 $25.94 $25.94
Sydney, NSW $26.25 $26.25 $26.25 $27.75 $27.75
Perth, WA $22.33 $26.80 $26.80 $26.80 $26.80
ALL $25.64 $26.39 $26.36 $26.64 $26.97

(N.B. Not all installers explicitly disclose the STC discount they offer, instead selling ‘packaged’ systems with the amount inclusive in the final total. The average STC discounts below are based on figures from those installers who do include this information.)

About this data

All figures are based on the offerings of active installers on the Solar Choice installer network for each of the 6 major capital cities. The system prices above do not reflect the average prices at which systems are ultimately purchased.

About Solar Choice

Solar Choice works with 100 solar PV installers in providing free and impartial Solar Quote Comparisons for customers throughout Australia. Solar Choice Commercial manages tenders for a wide range of commercial-scale solar PV projects throughout Australia, including solar farms and utility-scale solar PV plants.

© 2012 Solar Choice Pty Ltd

Rebecca Boyle