A provision for a mandatory ‘retailer payment’ under South Australia Solar Feed-in Tariff scheme has come into effect as of 29 January 2012. The state’s Solar Feed-in Tariff scheme is now composed of two separate parts: A ‘base rate’ of 16c/kWh (for those signed up after 30 September 2011), plus a retailer payment of 7.1c/kWh (which is due to increase from 30 June 2012). The base rate will remain unchanged until 2016, while the retailer payment will rise annually to reflect the ‘real value’ of solar electricity to the electricity grid. The retailer payment will also be paid to those whose solar PV systems are signed up on the State’s former 44c/kWh rate.
South Australia offering one of the best solar PV incentives in Australia
With a cumulative rate of 23c/kWh (and rising), South Australia offers one of the most generous buyback rates for solar power in the country. For example, Adelaide households where the occupants are not home during the day can expect annual savings of approximately (5.6 Sun Hours x 5kW x 23c x 0.5 =) $1,200 in the form of credit on electricity bills assuming a 50% export rate of the solar power to the grid. These savings will grow as the retailer payment component of the Solar Feed-in Tariff rises over the coming years.
Further savings from self-consumption of solar power
On top of returns from electricity exports, system owners can also count on savings from avoided purchase of electricity from the grid: each kWh of power used at home while the solar panels are producing energy means 1kWh fewer that will appear on the next bill. With the price of electricity set to rise sharply across the country (by 36% in SA) over the next 2 years and beyond, it will make increasingly more financial sense for solar-installed households to opt to time their use to favour self-consumption over export to the grid.
Returns on any solar system will of course vary depending on factors such as system size, ratio of self-consumption vs export to grid, and the weather patterns for the year. But with solar PV system prices hitting all-time lows, payback periods are relatively short at 4-7 years for most systems in South Australia.
© 2011 Solar Choice Pty Ltd
Resources and links:
South Australian Government: Solar Feed-in Scheme page, Retailer Payment
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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