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A Solar Energy Plan is your opportunity to go off-grid without ever leaving the city. Sort of. With your home solar panels and Solar Energy Plan, you could generate and use your own electricity, as well as sell any excess back to the grid.
Comparing Solar Energy Plans can help you be an informed consumer, not to mention find an option that better suits your needs and improves the value you get from your solar system.
A Solar Energy Plan’s worth to you might be as sure a thing as the sun coming up. But it all depends on your unique circumstances, particularly your electricity usage. Making the switch to solar is about satisfying your electricity needs as much as possible at home rather than relying on the grid, which can lead to some savings too.
To see how a Solar Energy Plan measures up, it can help to line it up against your electricity usage habits and what you can realistically generate. Ultimately, you’re after a plan that works with your usage patterns and makes solar worthwhile for you.
Your Solar Electricity Plan may come with a feed-in tariff (sometimes called a FiT or buyback rate). This is a rate for selling solar electricity you don’t use back to the electricity grid through your retailer. However, what rate that is will vary due to factors like your plan, your retailer and even where you live.
You don’t need a battery for your solar system to enjoy a Solar Energy Plan, although a battery may help you get more value out of the plan. With a battery, you can store excess solar-generated electricity for use later, whether the sun is shining or not. You can also become part of a Virtual Power Plant, if that’s an option with your provider, to help your community run a little greener.
To start utilising the sun’s sweet rays in your home, you’ll need a solar system that can connect to the electricity grid. This means having three major components:1
You definitely can add other parts to your solar system too though, like a hybrid or multimode inverter so you can have battery storage plus use power if the electricity grid goes offline.2
It’s a fair question to ask, it just feels unfair that there isn’t a simple answer! Ultimately, what you can expect your FiT to be will depend on where you live. Some parts of Australia have regulated minimum or set rates, whereas in other areas it’s up to the Energy Retailer to decide.
A high feed-in tariff can certainly be enticing but it’s important to read the fine print. Crazy-high FiTs can often be bundled with higher supply and usage charges. This isn’t necessarily a bad thing if you have a solar system that generates and stores enough electricity to cover your electricity usage whether the sun is up or down. However, if you haven’t got that flash of a solar system, it could mean you end up paying more for your electricity than before you had solar.
It might help to switch your thinking on solar energy to be more about saving money than making it.
You made it, so you can decide what you do with your excess solar electricity. Use it, store it (if your system allows that) or sell it if you can export to the grid. This is your Goldilocks moment and it’s time to find your ‘just right’.
For some people, this is making the most of their solar electricity in the moment, like running appliances during the day on solar power rather than paying for peak electricity later. Others get batteries added to their solar system so that they can store solar-generated electricity for later instead. Still others prefer to export and sell their excess to get credit on their electricity bills.
The sun is well and truly shining on the future of solar. It’s only going to become more important as time goes on. This means the government wants you to get on board, and they’re willing to pay (kind of).
The Federal Government has the Small-scale Renewable Energy Scheme, which comes with incentives to install and use your new renewable energy system, whether it’s solar, wind or hydro. If you’re eligible, you can receive small-scale technology certificates (STC) for every megawatt hour generated. You can then sell these STCs to make up the costs of buying and installing the system.3 They’re kind of like NFTs but without the risk and negative environmental impact. You’ll need to act quick though; the scheme is only going to be around up to the end of 2030.4
Depending on where you live within Australia and if you meet certain eligibility requirements, you could also make use of state or territory-based rebates and loans.