How do photovoltaic grid-connect solar systems work?
A photovoltaic grid-connect system consists of solar panels which absorb energy from the sun, which is then converted to power your home. The solar panels absorb the photon particles from the sun. This process has a photoelectric effect and causes the flow of free electrons producing electricity. The panels are connected to an inverter, which changes the direct current (DC) from the solar panels to 240 volt alternating current (AC) used to power our homes. A kilo-watt hour (kWh) metre measures the power that is generated and exported by the grid-connect system. The main switchboard for the house directs power from the grid or solar panels to where it is needed in the house. Any excess power generated by the solar system, which is not needed in the house, is then exported to the electricity grid and sold back to your electricity supplier. To find out more, click here.
What Government incentives are currently available for the installation of solar energy?
Government incentives are available for the installation of renewable energy including solar power and hot water heat pumps through Small-scale Technology Certificates (STCs). For grid connect solar power systems, the Solar Credits Scheme is now in effect, providing generous savings on the installation of small renewable energy systems up to 1.5kW, based on the value of Small-scale Technology Certificates (STCs) with a multiplier effect. Larger systems receive the Solar Credits Scheme multiplier discount, plus a discount for the value of STCs for the additional kW above 1.5kW. To find out more, click here.
What are Small-scale Technology Certificates (STCs)?
Small-scale Technology Certificates are issued for small scale solar photovoltaic systems and other renewable energy systems, including hotwater heat pumps. The number of certificates issued depend on the size, location and deeming period of the certificates. The certificates are a trading commodity and are traded on a market, hence fluctuate in value on a daily basis. The number of certificates you are eligible for depends on the size and type of system you install. For example, a 303 litre Stiebel Eltron heat pump entitles you to 24 STCs. For a 1.5kW Grid Connect System, you are entitled to 103 STCs under the Solar Credits Scheme. As a STCs trader, NQ Solar is able to discount your solar energy system upfront for the value of your STCs. This means you save money straight away on the cost of installing solar!
What is the Solar Credits Scheme?
The Solar Credits Scheme is currently available to residential, rental and commercial properties. The Solar Credits Scheme multiplies the number of the STCs by a factor of 3 for the first 1.5kW of a system. Any additional kilowatt above 1.5kW receives further STCs discount with no multiplying effect. The multiplier factor of 3 is applied until 30 June 2012, after this date it will reduce to 2 and then by one for every year thereafter until 2013. The discount on the system is determined by the number of STCs once the Solar Credits Scheme is applied as shown in the following example.
A 2kW Grid Connect System installed in North Queensland:
First 1.5kW System = entitled to 31.095 STCs
Solar Credit Scheme Multipler = (31.095 STCs x 3) = 93.285 STCs
Remaining 0.5kW = entitled to 10.365 STCs
STCs for 2kW system = 93.285 + 10.365 = 103.65 = 103 STCs (after rounding down).
Discount on 2kW System = (No. STCs x value of STCs) = 103 STCs x $30 = $3090 upfront discount off a 2kW system.
(Note: This assumes the STC market value of $30 each.)
What are the Government Incentives currently available for off-grid solar systems?
Off Grid Power Systems are also eligible for the Solar Credits Scheme discount up to a size of 20kW. An off grid power system is defined as being installed at least 1 kilometre from the nearest main-grid line or less than 1 kilometre from a main-grid line where the owner has provided written evidence from the local network service provider that the total cost of connecting the power to the main-grid is more than $30,000.
The Solar Credits Scheme multiplier will only apply to systems that have been installed prior to the annual STC cap being met of 250,000 STCs for the financial years of 2011 – 2013.
If the annual cap is equal or exceeded the Solar Credits multiplier immediately applies to only the first 1.5W of capacity installed. Generation from capacity above 1.5 kW will still be eligible for the 1:1 rate of STC creation.
What is the Solar Bonus Scheme?
The Solar Bonus Scheme is a feed-in tariff paid to residential and small businesses using less than 100 megawatt hours (MWh) of electricity per year. Customers are credited for the surplus electricity generated from roof-top solar photovoltaic (PV) systems that is exported back into the Queensland grid after the household load is met. Surplus electricity is produced at every instant that the PV system is producing more electricity than the household is using. The Solar Bonus of 44 cents per kilowatt hour (kWh) will be credited for surplus electricity that is fed back into the grid.
How many credits will I receive?
Customers participating in the scheme will be credited 8c/kWh of electricity fed into the grid. The amount of credits received depends on the amount of power that is exported to the electricity grid.
The amount of electricity a customer sends to the grid will depend on how much energy is being consumed by the household while the solar panels are generating power. Electricity is only exported back to the electricity grid if the household demand for power is less than what the solar system is producing at a point in time.
Households may be able to maximise their solar bonus by improving the energy efficiency of their home during the day, in order to export more electricity to the grid, thereby receiving more credits. The optimum times for the export of power is when the household is out at work, school or play. As long as all appliances not required are turned off, the majority of power made by the solar system will then be exported back to the grid. Other ways to maximise the export of power is to use the high energy demand appliances like washing machines and dishwashers in the morning and evening, outside of the peak hours when the solar system is producing maximum power.
A 1.5kW system produces 7.5kW/hours of power a day on average in North Queensland. For every kW/hour exported back to the grid, the household will be credited 8c, which is about double the purchase price from the supplier. The number of credits is greatly dependant on the activities of the household during the day. This scheme makes householders more conscious of the power they are using throughout the day.
Changes to the Solar Bonus Scheme: Ergon will no longer buy excess power from systems 5kW or larger, installed after June 7th 2011.
Will I need a special meter?
Customers wishing to claim the solar bonus will need electricity metering that separately records electricity imports and exports. If required, the installation of new or additional meters will need to be arranged with the electricity distributor by your electricity retailer. Customers with an existing solar PV system wired in a 'gross' metering configuration will need to rewire their system to a 'net' configuration, in order to participate in the scheme. Customers wishing to change their metering arrangements will need to consult with their electricity retailer and additional costs will need to be covered by the customer. NQ Solar will assist you through this process.
How long will I get the solar bonus for?
The solar bonus of 8c/kWh will be offered until 2028 for customers signing up to the scheme prior to it being reviewed after 10 years or when eight megawatts of capacity have been installed, whichever comes first.
How does the Heat Pump work?
A Heat Pump works like a refrigerator, only in reverse. Air which contains solar heat energy is extracted by the Heat Pump to heat water. A fan draws air through an evaporator which contains very cold liquid refrigerant. The heat in this air is absorbed by the refrigerant, turning it into a very hot liquid. The hot liquid refrigerant is then compressed to a "super heated" gas via a compressor. The gas is then circulated to a condenser, where the heat from the gas is transferred to the water in the tank. The now cool refrigerant is then reused and the cycle starts all over again. Power is only required to operate the compressor to move the heat around the system, not to heat the water.
Does the unit draw much power?
No, the Stiebel Eltron Heat Pump has the lowest current draw of any heat pump on the market, 2.17amps (520watts).
What incentives are available?
The Stiebel Eltron is eligible for the Federal Government Small-scale Technology Certificate (STCs) discount and Government Rebates for Hot Water Systems (provided the householder is replacing an existing electric hot water system). To find out more, click here.
What is a Queensland Sustainability Declaration?
New homes built in Queensland must now meet sustainability standards. From January 1st 2010, a sustainability declaration must be completed by the seller of any house, townhouse or unit to inform the buyers about the sustainability features of a property in four key areas: energy; water; access; and safety. The declaration will inform buyers about the sustainability features of a property and increase community awareness of the value of such features.
Why is home sustainability important?
Sustainability features can lower the operating costs of a home. Properties with sustainability features use less energy for heating and cooling, generate fewer greenhouse gas emissions, use less water and are more comfortable to live in.
Where can I get a copy of the sustainability declaration?
The sustainability declaration is available on the Department of Infrastructure and Planning's website, click here.