If you buy a solar PV system today (27/7/2018), it will be subsidised by the federal government’s small-scale renewable energy scheme. Commonly known as the ‘solar rebate’, this scheme brings down the upfront cost of buying solar by around $500 per kilowatt. Through the scheme, eligible solar PV systems earn Small-scale Technology Certificates (STCs).
What are STCs worth?
So what are these STCs worth? Well, for a 5.13kW system (19 panels) the value of the STCs through the MASH bulk-buy is $2,607. STCs are applied at the point of sale – i.e. the prices you see advertised for solar PV systems almost always has this applied. So a MASH 5.13kW system costs $6,150; without STCs the system would cost $8,757.
STCs are being phased out – slowly
However STCs are being phase out – albeit gradually. The federal government is phasing out STCs each year through to 2030 when the Small-scale Renewable Energy Scheme ends. The value of STCs will reduce by 1/14th each year on the 1st of January. So if you are buying a solar PV system, it must be installed by 31 December 2018 in order to earn the current number of STCs. However, come the 1st of January, the price increase is not that great – around $180 more for a 5.13kW system.
Recommendation before Federal Government to phase out STCs more quickly
STCs are under the political spotlight. Three weeks ago (on 11/7/2018), the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) issued a report recommending that the federal government phases out STCs by 2021, nine years early. The reaction to this recommendation from most of the solar industry and is that this would be a retrograde step. It would put the upfront cost of solar out of reach for many low to mid income groups and slowdown the uptake of rooftop solar. Let’s hope it doesn’t happen!
Finally, a tip for you. STCs are based on the kilowatts of panels installed – not the size of the inverter. So oversizing the array of panels gives better value for money. That’s why we’re seeing lots of MASH customers buying, for example, a 5kW inverter with up to 6.65kW of panels thereby bringing down the cost per watt by around 8 cents.
Solar Matters is a regular column written by Jo Kaptein, Manager of the MASH community solar bulk-buy, and published in the Midland Express. The MASH team would like to thank the Midland Express for its continuing support of this bulk-buy.