Western Australia suspended its 20c/kWh solar feed-in tariff (FiT) scheme at 8am 1 August 2011 with no state-sponsored scheme to replace it (although there is still a Solar Buyback scheme in place from WA electricity retailers).
Some people who already have a solar power system installed on their property and are receiving the FiT in Australia’s largest state may be asking themselves: “If I want to increase the size of my system, will I still be eligible to continue receiving my current rate?”
Can I expand my solar power system and still get the WA Feed-in Tariff?
The answer, according to the WA Office of Energy, is ‘yes’–but with a caveat.
Under WA FiT eligibility rules, solar power system size is defined by the capacity of the system’s inverter. You can increase the size of the solar panel array, but you cannot add a new inverter or replace your existing one with a larger one.
Keep in mind that there’s a limit to how much benefit you’ll actually see from putting on additional panels. If your inverter’s capacity is greater than the nominal capacity of your solar panel array(s), then it almost certainly makes sense to add on more panels. In some cases, it may even make sense to have a greater total solar panel capacity than your nominal inverter’s capacity – this is widely used and accepted technique in the solar industry these days. The Clean Energy Council’s design rules acknowledge this approach, but say that ‘overclocking’ of solar panel capacity should not be greater than 30%. For example, if you have a 2kW inverter, your solar panel array’s nominal capacity should not be more than 2.6kW.
If you didn’t have plans to increase the size of your system before the FiT scheme was cancelled, it is unlikely that you would opt to do so now. Unless, of course, your energy needs have begun to soar higher than you ever expected them to, in which case upgrading your system might be worth it even if it means losing the tariff.
© 2011 Solar Choice Pty Ltd
Western Australia Office of Energy, Residential Solar Feed-in Tariff FAQ