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Keep reading to learn more about solar power, including how it works, and some factors to consider when comparing energy plans with Solar.
We all know that solar energy is getting a lot more popular as it is the fastest growing generation type in Australia, with more than 30 per cent of Australian households now having rooftop solar.1
Australia is lucky enough to have the highest average solar radiation per square metre of any continent in the world.2 As a result, we have some of the best solar energy resource in the world.2
The Australian Renewable Energy Agency outlines two main types of solar power energy, solar PV (photovoltaic) and solar thermal.1
Solar PV uses a semiconductor cell, or solar PV cell in a solar panel, to convert sunlight directly into electricity.1
Solar thermal is the process of creating thermal energy through converting sunlight into heat.1 This heat can provide many purposes such as driving an electricity generator via steam.1 The solar thermal process involves two main types of technologies; concentrated solar thermal harvesting in the sun’s heat to produce large-scale power generation and smaller scale thermal technology utilised to heat space of water.1
Solar power is produced by capturing the sun’s heat and light energy and converting it into usable energy, like electricity to light, cool, and generally, power our homes.1
As a renewable energy source, solar can cause a lot less pollution and damage to the environment.3 Thanks to rapid cost reductions over recent years, it’s one of Australia’s rapidly growing energy sources.4
You may have heard people talking about selling excess electricity back to the grid. What they’re referring to is known as a ‘Feed-in Tariff’.
This is possible because, unless you have a solar battery, you have to use your solar electricity as soon as it’s generated. If you don’t, it goes back into the electricity grid for general use by everyone. For this excess energy, households can get a small payment, or tariff, which comes as a reduction in your electricity bill.
It varies, but the sum paid per kilowatt hour is generally relatively small; perhaps a few cents however, this may vary depending on the state you live in and the address of your property. So when comparing solar plans, keep a lookout for a plan with a good feed-in tariff.
It’s important to be aware that some providers may offer high feed-in tariffs just to attract customers. When you look closer, though, the plan’s usage rates may be higher too, making your tariff worthless. It’s a balancing act, high feed-in tariffs are not the only factor to look out for.
Good question. The answer depends on a few variables, like the size of your solar system, when you use most of your electricity, and if you have a solar battery? Generally most retailers balance these two however, a high tariff can easily be offset by a higher usage rate.
If you have a large solar system which generates a lot of electricity and you’re not at home during the day to use it, then you probably have a fair bit of excess to sell back into the grid. In this case, the higher FiT could be a good choice for you.
If, however, you can store your electricity in a solar battery for when you need it, or you’re home all the time and don’t have much excess to sell back, then perhaps you should think about going with the higher discount.
Ultimately this is a decision you will need to make based on your specific circumstances and the terms of the relevant electricity plan.
We’ve already discussed the trade-offs with tariffs and usage rates and the difference your own usage patterns can make to your choice of a plan to suit you. So hopefully you have a grounding in solar to help you start comparing a range of plans successfully. But the whole process can be a lot easier with our help.