If you’re looking to invest in solar power panels, you should know that you are entitled to a rebate on your purchase via the Australian government’s Small-scale Renewable Energy Scheme.
The rebate, or financial incentive (correct government term), is issued in the form of a Small- scale Technology Certificate, commonly referred to as an STC. Each STC carries a monetary value.
When you purchase a solar system, you’ll be issued with a certain number of STCs based on the size of your solar system and the location where it is to be installed. The total value of these certificates equate to your solar rebate. You can calculate the value of your rebate below.
The owner of the small generation unit at the time that the eligible system is installed is entitled to create the STCs. The time at which a small generation unit is taken to have been installed is the day the unit is first able to produce and deliver electricity. Note that STCs can only be created within 12 months of the installation of an eligible system. However, no STCs can be created, and no financial incentives are provided in relation to STCs, in respect of electricity generated on or after 1 January 2031.
See the website of the Clean Energy Regulator for information on creating STCs, the process of STC validation and registration and the online registry system, called the REC Registry, which facilitates the creation, validation, auditing and transfer of STCs.
In order to accurately calculate the number of STCs that can be created for your installation, you will need to consult the Renewable Energy (Electricity) Act 2000 and the Renewable Energy (Electricity) Regulations or get advice from a solar industry professional.
The more power your solar system generates, the greater size of your rebate. So if you are located in Queensland, where sunshine hours are relatively high, you’ll receive a larger rebate than a Victorian property that doesn’t receive as many sunshine hours. This is simply because an increase in sunshine hours will lead to an increase in the amount of solar power your system will generate.
For the purposes of issuing STCs, the Federal Government splits all of Australia’s postcodes into 4 categories: Zone 1, Zone 2, Zone 3 and Zone 4. In short, if you reside in Zone 1, you’ll receive a greater rebate than someone that lives in Zone 2, who will receive a bigger rebate than someone in Zone 3 and so on.
The other variable in determining the value of your solar incentive is system size. The larger the solar panel system, the more power it will generate; hence why you will be entitled to a greater number of certificates (STCs).
Each certificate is equivalent to 1 Megawatt hour (MWh) of renewable energy. Cleverly, the government doesn’t pay you for each certificate. They are traded on an open market as part of a scheme incorporated into the Australian Government’s Renewable Energy Target. Companies that generate high amounts of fossil fuel then purchase these certificates on the open market in a bid to increase their clean energy generation, a requirement under the Renewable Energy Target. Therefore, the price of an STC fluctuates depending on market demand for renewable energy. The average price for a Small – scale Technology Certificate over the past 3 months has been $38.50.
You will be issued with your Small – scale Technology Certificates as soon as your solar system is installed and producing power. Your solar installer can handle the application of your rebate. They may even only charge you for the net cost of your system. Be aware, that many installers factor in the value of the rebate in any price that they quote you for a solar system too.
It’s important not to confuse your solar rebate with a feed in tariff. A rebate is a one-off discount to offset the cost of your solar panel system. A feed in tariff is the rate you receive from your electricity retailer when they purchase your solar power from you. It is ongoing credit you will receive for effectively selling your excess solar output.
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