Canberra, ACT is a great place to go solar in Australia, thanks primarily to the ever-improving economics of solar panel installations. This article takes a look at the some of the key considerations for going solar in Canberra, including system pricing, energy yields and incentives available to system owners. It also touches on battery storage.
The sun’s potential in the Australian Capital Territory
Getting the best deal on solar PV anywhere in Australia – including Canberra – means first understanding how a system benefits a home or business. Solar panels only produce electricity during sunlight hours, and how much electricity is generated depends on the intensity and duration of the sunshine.
ACT residents can benefit from solar in two ways: 1) ‘solar self-consumption‘, where you use the solar energy directly (and avoid having to pay your retailer for electricity), and 2) solar feed-in credits, where you receive a credit on your bill for ‘excess’ solar energy that you send into the grid. The combination of these two benefits helps to make solar a great investment for the ACT.
Note that the feed-in tariff rate that you receive depends on who sells you electricity (your retailer) and the plan that you’re on with that retailer. You can compare feed-in tariffs and electricity plans using the government’s EnergyMadeEasy.gov.au comparator website, or Wattever.com.au; both sites cover every plan available in Australia.
You can play with the numbers for yourself using our Solar System Payback & ROI Estimator tool.
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How much energy will a solar system produce in Canberra?
The average Canberran rooftop receives an annual average of about 4.8 hours of sun per day. This number fluctuates seasonally (higher in summer and lower in winter). Estimated daily generation figures for different size systems based on 4.8 sun hours are detailed below (minus a 25% efficiency loss). Note that ‘kilowatt-hours’ (kWh) is the same unit that you’ll see on your electricity bill; the average Australian home uses between 15-25kWh of energy per day.
|System Size||Number of Solar Panels||Average output per day|
|2kW solar system||5 to 7||7.2kWh|
|3kW solar system||8 to 10||10.8kWh|
|4kW solar system||11 to 13||14.4kWh|
|5kW solar system||14 to 16||18kWh|
|7kW solar system||19 to 22||25.2kWh|
|10kW solar system||27 to 31||36kWh|
How much does a solar system cost in Canberra?
Solar Choice regularly publishes articles with indicative pricing for PV systems in Australia’s capital cities (including Canberra) in our Solar PV Price Index. You can find the most recent article here, or you can get a free & instant Quote Comparison through our service by filling out the form on this page.
The table below shows how solar system price trends for Australia between August 2012 and early 2019. The prices are in dollar per watt ($/W) format and segmented by capital city (including Canberra).
Choosing the right solar system size
Because solar is affordable these days, sizing up a system for your home is not an exact science. The most popular residential system sizes in Australia at the moment are 3kW, 4kW and 5kW; the larger the system, the less you’ll pay per watt of capacity ($/W) for comparable equipment. Any of these systems sizes could work with a household consuming the typical 15-25kWh/day – the main difference would be the financial outcomes (which we look into in a bit more detail below).
To simplify the shopping process, it may be easiest to collect quotes for these different system sizes and run the numbers for yourself. You can check out our Simple Solar System Sizing Estimator to explore different scenarios, or check out our Solar PV System Payback Estimator.
Federal and state government incentives for solar in Canberra
Significant up-front incentives are available from the federal government. Technically speaking, this discount comes in the form of ‘small-scale technology certificates’ (STCs), which utility companies and other liable entities are obligated to purchase under Australia’s national Renewable Energy Target. This discount is applied directly to the purchase price of your system – there is no need to claim it, as it is passed through to you by the company that sells you the system; all you have to do is compare prices.
As an example, the STC benefit associated with the scheme for a 5kW solar system in Canberra is approximately $2,600 based on pricing from Green-bank.
The state government also incentivises Solar Panels and Batteries for eligible persons. For persons holding a pensioner concession card, the ACT government will chip in 50% of the costs of installing solar to a maximum of $2,500. The ACT Government has also committed to supporting the installation of 5,000 battery storage systems meeting certain criteria with a rebate of $825 per kilowatt (kW) of battery capacity installed.
Is solar power worth it in Canberra?
Residents of the ACT are fortunate enough to benefit from some of the lowest grid electricity prices in the whole of Australia, with the most competitive rates coming in at about 21c/kWh according to energy.gov.au. While this means that typical (pre-solar) household electricity bills in the ACT tend to be significantly less than those in QLD or NSW, it also means that finding a solar system size/price combination that works for your home may require a bit more shopping around and research than in some of the other states where much higher electricity prices mean households are scrambling for solar.
The table below examines two popular system sizes (3kW and 5kW) in an example situation to see what the payback periods and internal rate of return (IRR) would look like under two different levels of ‘self-consumption’ that would be relatively easily attainable for each system size. The aim is to present a ‘conservative’ scenario as an investment case for going solar. Note that we’ve used average solar system prices; better results may easily be achievable by shopping around.
Indicative returns for solar systems @ average Canberra prices
–Last updated March 2020-
|@ 30% self-consumption||@ 50% self-consumption||@ 20% self-consumption||40% self-consumption|
|4.5 year payback||3.6 year payback||5.8 year payback||4.3 year payback|
|22% IRR||28% IRR||16% IRR||23% IRR|
|$721 annual savings||$902 annual savings||$785 annual savings||$1,063 annual savings|
*(Assuming 75% system efficiency, 25kWh electricity consumption/day, retail electricity @ 21c/kWh, solar feed-in rate @ 8c/kWh)
What about home battery storage?
The ACT is one of the few local governments in Australia to offer an incentive for home battery storage under its NextGen program. NextGen helps to reduce the cost of installing batteries, provided you go with one of the program’s handful of pre-selected providers. This is a fantastic program that makes battery storage worth looking into for Canberrans and which we hope will be emulated by other state & territory governments going forward.
You can read more about battery storage in Canberra a few related articles of ours:
- Is home solar battery storage worth it in 2020?
- Which cities are best for battery storage?
- Battery storage in the ACT
Solar Choice’s 8-point Guide to Solar & Batteries (plus FAQs)
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