Well over 30% of the homes in the Brisbane area have solar panels on their roofs – one of the highest rates of any of Australia’s capital cities. Why have Brisbane residents taken such a shine to solar power? This article take a look and the benefits of going solar for households in Brisbane (and also touches on battery storage).
Why is Brisbane a good place for solar power?
Exhibit A: Ample sunshine
Fitting for the capital of the sunshine state, Brisbane receives lots of sunshine year-round. According to the Bureau of Meteorology, Brisbane gets about 5.2 hours of ‘peak sun’ per square meter on average per day. How much usable solar energy does 5.2 peak sun hours translate into? The answer depends on a few things, including the size (or kilowatt capacity) of your solar system.
|Solar PV system output in Brisbane (Popular system sizes)|
|Solar system size (kilowatts)||Avg daily system output (kilowatt-hours)|
Great! But what does this mean?
When you look at your electricity bill, you should be able to see your energy usage listed in kilowatt-hours (kWh) – the standard units used in electricity billing. Your kWh consumption will vary by season and month. You should be able to figure out roughly how many kWh you use per day on average by looking at your old electricity bills. As a rule of thumb, the average Australian home uses between 15 and 25kWh of energy per day.
Knowing this number will help you choose the right solar system size, but because solar is so affordable these days, sizing your system is not an exact science. In fact, the most common solar system sizes around the country are 3kW, 4kW and 5kW – with 5kW being the most popular these days thanks to the great value for money that they offer (i.e. a lower price per kilowatt). If you use significantly more than 25kWh of energy per day, a solar system larger than 5kW is probably worth investigating.
Remember that the more of the solar energy you ‘self-consume‘ (i.e. use directly) by shifting energy usage into the daylight hours, the more you will save on your bill. The rate you are paid for your excess solar energy is generally referred to as a ‘feed-in tariff’. At present in Queensland, the rate you are paid depends on your electricity retailer and the plan you are on – you can visit EnergyMadeEasy.gov.au or WattEver.com.au to compare offers from different retailers.
We encourage you to play with the numbers yourself using our Solar System Payback & ROI Estimator tool. You can also read on to the bottom of this article to see a quick comparison of returns on 3kW & 5kW solar systems.
Solar Choice’s 8-point Guide to Solar & Batteries (plus FAQs)
Exhibit B: Strong up-front incentives through the federal Renewable Energy Target
The federal government indirectly provides what are in effect up-front discounts on the cost of installing a solar PV system through Australia’s Renewable Energy Target. Because this incentive is applied directly to the price of your system by the installer, you do not need to claim it yourself; all you need to do is compare out-of-pocket solar system prices.
The actual value of the incentive depends on a number of factors such as location and system size, but usually works out to be about 30-40% of the total installation cost. This incentive has been key in making Australia home to some of the lowest solar PV system prices in the world.
As an example, when this incentive is applied to a 5kW solar system in Brisbane, it results in a reduction of $2,670 – $3,380.
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Exhibit C: Competitive solar PV system prices
As mentioned above, Australian solar system installation prices are among the lowest in the world – we know because we’ve been keeping track for a few years now with our monthly Solar PV Price Index. As per the below diagram the price of solar in Brisbane tracks pretty closely with the natural average as it is a very competitive market for Solar Installers.
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What about battery storage?
One way to increase solar self-consumption is to have a battery storage system installed. Although batteries can still be quite pricey, they are quickly becoming more affordable. Battery storage price comparisons are now available with all of Solar Choice’s Solar Quote Comparisons.
Recent analysis by Solar Choice puts Brisbane as the #4 best city for batteries in Australia. You can read the article by clicking here or by clicking on the table below.
Exhibit D: Solar PV systems in Brisbane are still a good investment
As the table below illustrates, payback times for solar systems in Brisbane can be quite short and savings quite large. Keep in mind that the results in the table are based on average Brisbane prices – lower system prices will yield even better results. Furthermore, we use generally conservative figures for the example below – including an efficiency rate of 75%.
We just urge that you make sure that the system you’re purchasing uses quality components and is installed by a reputable installer. Lower prices don’t always indicate lower quality, but they should be approached with a healthy degree of caution – remember that a solar system should last up to 25 years (with inverter replacements every 7-13 years). Any system downtime will reduce savings and extend the payback period – not to mention costs incurred for any repairs not covered by the system’s warranty.
Indicative returns for solar systems @ average Brisbane prices
–Last updated March 2019-
|@ 30% self-consumption||@ 50% self-consumption||@ 20% self-consumption||40% self-consumption|
|~6.5 year payback||~5.2 year payback||~5.4 year payback||~4.5 year payback|
|~14% IRR||~18% IRR||~17% IRR||~21% IRR|
|~$650 annual savings||~$803 annual savings||~$1,090 annual savings||~$1,282 annual savings|
*(Assuming 75% system efficiency, 25kWh electricity consumption/day, retail electricity @ 21c/kWh, solar feed-in rate @ 11c/kWh)
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© 2019 Solar Choice Pty Ltd