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Solar energy is a type of renewable energy that’s created by converting heat and light from the sun into electricity or using it as a heat source. A home solar energy system typically uses solar panels and an inverter to collect sunlight and convert it into usable electricity. This technology is called solar photovoltaic (PV) because solar panels contain cells called solar PV cells. It’s also possible to have a solar thermal system that turns sunlight into heat to heat the home or water in a hot water system. The Australia Renewable Energy Agency says solar PV is the fastest growing type of energy generation in Australia.
Solar energy has two key benefits. It allows you to potentially reduce the amount of electricity you buy from an energy retailer, by using a solar system to produce electricity for use in the home. This can deliver lower electricity bills. Solar energy also offers you the potential to reduce the amount of carbon emissions you’re responsible for, by reducing your reliance on grid electricity that’s primarily created from fossil fuels.
There are three key features to focus on when comparing solar energy plans: solar feed-in tariffs, usage and supply rates and system size limits. Weighing up these featured based on how your household uses electricity will determine whether you could save more by using all of the electricity your solar system generates and paying for any additional grid electricity you need, or by storing the electricity your solar system generates so you can to export back to the grid for payment in the form of a feed-in tariff. Some plans are limited to homeowners with solar systems of a particular size too, so it’s important to check whether a plan has such a limit.
Your solar installer can help you decide which option may suit you best. You can also use Canstar Blue’s free solar plan comparison tool to compare features such as feed-in tariffs and usage and supply rates from leading energy providers in the solar space.
The savings you may make from installing solar panels in Australia will depend on the size of your system, the energy plan you choose, the amount of electricity your household uses and how it uses it. To give you an idea, however, Canstar Blue research conducted in 2022 found that households with solar received $117 credit against their quarterly electricity costs, on average, when exporting their excess solar energy to the electricity grid in exchange for a solar feed-in tariff. Your solar installer can help you calculate what savings your household might make by installing a solar system.
Solar Energy - February 22nd
As residential solar power continues to gain popularity, curiosity about the inner workings of solar batteries, which are the storage backbone of this renewable energy, is also rising. If you’ve ever wondered how solar-powered batteries …– Read more
Solar Energy - February 22nd
Solar photovoltaic technology, commonly known as solar PV when it comes to residential solar systems, has been central to bringing solar energy to the suburbs. But what does PV mean, how does it work and …– Read more
Tara Donnelly is Canstar Blue’s Utilities Editor, leading the team that focuses on energy, telecommunications and consumer technology, across news, reviews and how-tos. Tara has spent more than a decade covering these topics in Australia, the US and Canada, which means she’s written about countless product launches and industry changes, including the rise of 5G, Australia’s ongoing NBN rollout, the recent years of energy price volatility and the rise of renewable energy sources.
Tara also has long experience in writing within the comparison industry, giving her great insights into the information consumers want when determining which plan or device will best meet their needs, while time spent in the financial sector before turning her talent to content lets her crunch the numbers on price with ease. Tara leads the coverage of Canstar Blue’s ratings and awards for the internet and phone sectors and is an expert at advising consumers on how to use comparison tools to find the best power, internet or phone deal.
Tara has a Bachelor of Communications from the University of Canberra and is passionate about simplifying complex subjects so consumers aren’t just informed, they’re connected and confident.
Kelseigh Wrigley is Canstar Blue’s Energy Specialist, where she covers the retail energy market, with a focus on electricity, solar and gas. Previously, Kelseigh contributed to online publications such as Hunter and Bligh, and even had a short stint on the airwaves, reporting local news for community radio station 4ZZZ.
Kelseigh joined the Canstar Blue team after completing a Bachelor of Journalism at the Queensland University of Technology. She has a strong understanding of the complexities of Australia’s energy landscape and a particular interest in providing consumers with easy-to-read information on their energy options, with a focus on solar energy. Kelseigh also leads the coverage of Canstar Blue’s ratings and awards for the energy sector and is passionate about helping bill-payers discover money-saving deals on electricity, solar and gas.
When Kelseigh isn’t busy keeping up to date with the energy sector, you can catch her curled up with a good book, baking up a storm or indulging in a few episodes of reality TV.
Monika Gudova is a freelance content writer and editor who has spent several years focused on energy topics, both at Canstar Blue and elsewhere in the comparison industry. Monika’s a key contributor to Canstar Blue’s coverage of the electricity, solar and gas sectors, particularly in the renewable energy space – fuelled by her experiences as a volunteer for the Australian Youth Climate Coalition and Greenpeace Australia.
With a Bachelor of Journalism and Bachelor of Communication and Media Studies from the University of Wollongong and experience in writing on a range of non-energy topics from fin-tech and business strategy to travel and entertainment, Monika’s well placed to know the most engaging ways to present in-depth information on the sometimes complex topic of energy.
Monika’s personal investment in renewables and green energy, meanwhile, means that she brings real passion to energy content. When she’s not exploring ways to live more sustainably, Monica is a serial hobbyist and DIY fanatic who loves the ocean and doing some home cooking (which she features on her Insta sideline!).Meet the Editorial Team
Bachelor of Commerce (Economics & Finance), Griffith University. Graduate Certificate in Data Science with Distinction, RMIT. Master of Data Science, Strategy and Leadership with Distinction, RMIT
Josh Sale leads Canstar’s research and product data functions that provide the basis for Canstar’s and Canstar Blue’s comparison tools, Value Rank calculations and expert Star Ratings, with oversight of teams of researchers, business analysts and data analysts across the energy, telecommunications and financial services and products sectors. Josh’s mix of tertiary qualifications in economics and finance and long experience as a Canstar company spokesperson means he’s not only able to transform complex calculations into consumer-friendly tools, rankings and awards, but is able to communicate them in a way that addresses Australians’ real-life personal finance and purchasing concerns.
Josh has analysed consumer markets in energy and telecommunications, and is keenly interested in what constitutes innovative products and services in those sectors. He regularly advises on bespoke research projects to continually improve Canstar and Canstar Blue’s understanding of consumer purchasing and use behaviour across energy and telco and is particularly interested in expanding the use of AI to provide consumers with information more quickly and efficiently.
Josh has shared his insights in print, radio and broadcast interviews with the likes of the Australian Financial Review, news.com.au and Money magazine because he believes knowledge is the first step toward empowerment. To the same end, while studying he facilitated peer-assisted study sessions for economics, and represented his University’s Business School in an academic committee.
When he’s not looking for new ways to leverage Canstar’s and Canstar Blue’s huge warehouse of product data and deep research expertise, Josh likes to research his own purchases in depth – just ask him about how he narrowed down his search for the perfect TV! Josh also uses his personal time to disappear down AI rabbit holes, when he’s not being a hands-on parent to two littlies.
Connect with Joshua Sale on Linkedin.
Bachelor of Business (Finance) with Distinction & Bachelor of Mathematics (Applied Computational Modelling) with Distinction, QUT
Breanna Gream is Canstar’s Data Insights Team Lead, responsible for developing the methodology and delivering Canstar Blue’s Value Ranking and determining Outstanding Value award winners for the energy and telecommunications sectors. Breanna completed a double Bachelor’s degree in Business, majoring in Finance, and Mathematics, majoring in Applied Computational Modelling, at the Queensland University of Technology.
Breanna enjoys using her skills to help consumers find more suitable utilities plans by transforming complex calculations into a Value Rank that provides a simpler way to compare different products. She most recently developed Value Ranking methodologies for wireless broadband plans and solar energy plans, to make it easier for households to identify plans that provide good value not just in terms of prices but also the features they offer. Breanna’s work on Value Ranking plays a key part in determining the winners of Canstar Blue’s Outstanding Value awards for electricity, gas, solar, phone and internet brands.
Many of the articles published by Canstar Blue feature calculations also undertaken by Breanna and her team, which converts pricing data into easy-to-understand cost forecasts and average price information for readers.
During her time at Canstar Blue, Breanna has developed an in-depth knowledge of product, market and regulatory changes across the electricity, solar, gas, internet and phone sectors, and particularly likes keeping Canstar Blue’s methodologies up to date and reflective of the ever-changing utilities environment.
When Breanna’s not crunching data, she’s likely to be somewhere remote – two of her favourite things to do are hiking and mountain climbing.
Connect with Breanna Gream on LinkedIn.
Bachelor of Psychological Science, University of Queensland. Graduate Certificate in Business Analysis, QUT
Natalie Hudepohl is a business analyst at Canstar, where she facilitates projects to improve consumers’ experiences of Canstar’s and Canstar Blue’s online tools, such as comparison tools. Natalie also manages projects designed to improve internal user experiences.
Her degree in psychological science helps provide Natalie with insights into human behaviours and perceptions that drive use of these tools, allowing her to suggest ways they can be better aligned with consumers needs, while her further studies in business analysis allow her to apply an analytical lens to the potential impact of such changes.
Natalie also calls on her six years of experience as the Energy Specialist within Canstar’s Product Data team – a role that required deep knowledge of the Australian energy market, as well as maintenance of the data used to popular Canstar Blue’s energy plan comparison tools – to inform her passion for helping Australians make educated decisions on personal finance topics, including energy, telecommunications and financial services.
When she isn’t at work, you can find Natalie catching up on Netflix shows, going on a long hike or curled up with a good book.
Connect with Natalie Hudepohl on LinkedIn.Meet the Research Team