A guide to solar power in Queensland

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Queensland – ‘The Sunshine State’. With more than half a million roof top solar systems installed across Queensland, the state currently leads the nation in solar penetration. But for those who aren’t yet on board with the solar revolution, Canstar Blue has put together this guide on the benefits and costs of solar, and how you can find the system best suited for you.

How much does solar cost in Queensland?

A solar system in Queensland costs between $3,000 and $13,000, depending on the system size. Small solar systems (less than 3kW) generally cost around $4,000 or less, while 4kW systems and larger will set you back upward $5,000.

While that might sound expensive, solar is considerably cheaper in Queensland than the most other states and territories. The below table from Solar Choice shows the average price for popular solar systems in Queensland compared to the state average. As you can see, a solar system in Queensland is often several hundreds of dollars cheaper than across the border.

1.5kW 2kW 3kW 4kW 5kW 10kW
Queensland $3,180 $3,680 $4,370 $4,260 $6,070 $12,990
National average $3,090 $4,030 $4,790 $5,720 $4,870 $13,390

Source: Solar Choice – February 2018 solar price index. Prices are after applied STC discounts.

How many households have solar in Queensland?

According to a recent climate council report, around half a million, or 1 in 3 Queensland homes, have a solar system installed.The Queensland Government expects this figure to rise to 1 million by 2020.

While solar uptake in Queensland has slowed since the Solar Bonus Scheme closed in 2012, many households are still getting on board – particularly in the South-East of the state, with several Brisbane suburbs already having a solar penetration of over 50%.

QLD solar rebates and incentives

There are two primary solar incentives available: Feed-in tariffs and Small-scale Technology Certificates (STCs). These schemes help reduce the cost of solar and make it easier to make a return on your investment.

Small-scale Technology Certficates in Queensland

tech-certificates-in-qld

STCs are part of the federal scheme which rewards customers with a form of rebate. If you install solar panels or a solar hot water system, you will receive number of certificates that can be sold on an open market or given to your solar installer for a hefty discount on your system.

The price per certificate shifts with supply and demand, though it usually sits around the $40 mark. The number of STCs you will receive will depend on the systems size, as well as your location. The country is split into STC zones 1 through 4, with zone 1 having the highest STC reward. As the image shows, solar power customers north of the Sunshine Coast receive the most STCs. Inland Queenslanders will earn the second most and South-East Queenslanders, the least.

Queensland solar feed-in tariffs

When solar panels produce electricity and no one uses it, this power is transferred to the shared energy grid. For every kWh of electricity that your solar panels export, your energy distributor will rebate a few cents off your electricity bill.

The minimum flat-rate feed-in tariff in regional Queensland is 10.102c/kWh, while South-East Queenslanders (on the Energex network in the Brisbane area) receive a voluntary FiT that’s usually around 10c/kWh. Some retailers may offer even higher FiTs – Origin Energy and Click Energy both have solar deals with FiTs up to 16c/kWh. The Queensland government in 2018 announced it would be introducing an voluntary opt in time-varying feed-in tariff to regional Queensland. Customers on time-varying tariffs receive a different price for their solar output depending on the time of day. During “peak” hours between 3pm and 7pm, customers are paid 13.606 cents per kWh of electricity produced by their solar panels. All other times are considered “off-peak” and customers are paid 7.358 cents per kWh of solar.

Customers who signed up to the Queensland government’s Solar Bonus Scheme before July 2012 will continue to receive an additional flat-rate FiT of 44c/kWh until 2028. Unfortunately for new solar customers, however, reintroducing a premium feed-in tariff doesn’t look like it’s on the cards.

QLD solar companies and products

Electricity customers in South-East Queensland (From the NSW border to around Gympie and Toowomba) are able to choose their energy provider. Feed-in tariffs for SE Queensland customers vary from 6c/kWh to 16c/kWh, so it’s worth shopping around. When comparing electricity products, keep in mind some solar deals often have higher rates and smaller discounts than standard (non-solar) offers. That means a solar plan with a high FiT won’t necessarily be the cheapest option. Below are just some of the products in the Queensland market.

List of Queensland Solar Deals

Powershop
Market Offer 12.2c/kWh
Alinta Energy
HomeSaver Plus 28 11c/kWh
Red Energy
Easy Saver 11.5c/kWh
Click Energy
Shine 14c/kWh
Shine Budget 10c/kWh
Shine Extra 16c/kWh
Shine Reward 15c/kWh
Solar 12c/kWh
Solar Bright 16c/kWh
Solar Light 8c/kWh
AGL
Savers 10.6c/kWh
Ergon Energy (Regional only)
Standing 10.102c/kWh
Energy Australia
Anytime Saver 11c/kWh
Flexi Saver 11c/kWh
Rate Fix 11c/kWh
Origin Energy
Standard Rate 7c/kWh
Solar Boost 14c/kWh
Solar Boost Plus 16c/kWh
Simply Energy
Plus 15 11.3c/kWh
Plus 10 11.3c/kWh
RACQ Plus 18 11.3c/kWh
Diamond Energy
Market Offer 12c/kWh
Dodo Power & Gas
Market & Standing Offers 8.5c/kWh
Mojo Power
Energy with Benefits 9c/kWh
Powerdirect
Market Offer 10.6c/kWh

Affordable Energy Plan – Interest-Free Solar Loans 

The Queensland government has set itself a target of one million rooftop solar systems by 2020 – nearly double the number of systems today. To assist this, the state government has proposed an ‘Affordable Energy Plan’ which will take effect from March 2018, provided the government remains unchanged next election. This energy plan includes interest free loans on solar systems, helping households deal with the huge upfront cost of solar. Additionally, it will introduce a trial program aimed at encouraging landlords to install solar and pass on the benefits to the tenant. This would be done through an annual $520 rebate to landlords who install solar on rental premises. Details are scare at this point and there’s no guarantee this plan will be implemented, so watch this space for updates.

Is solar a good investment?

Solar is not the sure-fire investment it was in the days of the Solar Bonus Scheme, however it can still save you money in the long-term by shaving hundreds off your energy bill every year.

While the price of solar has fallen over the years, solar panels are still an expensive purchase. It will take years before the solar panels pay off and your solar savings exceed what you spent on the system.

Solar is going to be most profitable for households which:

  • Have great weather
  • Are charged high electricity usage rates
  • Receive a large feed-in tariff
  • Live in STC zone 1 or 2.

What to consider before installing solar

Is your roof right for solar? Solar can be installed on nearly any type of roof, whether it is flat or tilted. Solar installation may, however, be slightly more expensive if your roof is flat as the installer will need to install and mount the solar panels on angled brackets.

Anyone with an old or damaged roof should consider repairs before installing solar – once its installed, your roof needs to last as long as the new solar panels.

How shaded is your roof? If there are trees blocking the sunlight to your roof, you will need to have these trimmed to ensure the solar panels receive sunlight. The down side is that removing the shade might make your home warmer in the summer months.

The price of electricity: The more you pay for electricity, the more you can save with solar – it’s that simple. Alternatively, if you’re not getting a good price on electricity, compare electricity providers.

Future needs: Solar panels should last at least a decade, so plan ahead. If you have kids moving out of home soon, maybe you don’t need as large of a solar system as you were quoted.

Are you considering leasing or selling? While solar panels undoubtedly improve property value, how much value they add will depend on the property market – so it’s not necessarily a safe bet. If you’re planning on leasing out the property, realestate.com.au says renters are likely to pay more rent for a property with solar panels. Also be sure to keep an eye for developments on how you can benefit from the Queensland Government’s proposed Affordable Energy Plan.

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