Is it worth getting solar if Powercor – the company who owns the poles and lines in our region – limits how much solar power you can export back to the grid?
The short answer is generally YES. This article explains why.
Before you can get a solar installed, your solar provider will submit an application to Powercor for connection to the grid. Powercor will respond in one of three ways:
- Approve the size system you’ve requested
- Limit the amount of power you can export to the grid (e.g. you request 5kW and Powercor says you can only export 2.5kW)
- Set a ‘zero export’ limit – i.e. you aren’t allowed to export any power from your solar system to the grid.
The good news is that in each of the above scenarios you can still get a solar power system installed. Also, you can install a larger system (say 10kW) on a single phase property in the Powercor area, so long as it is export limited to 5kW (assuming Powercor allows 5kW export).
The not-so-good news is that if Powercor responds with an export limitation, it means that some – and maybe all – of the excess solar power cannot be exported to the grid.
The bottom line is that you won’t paid as much for your excess solar power as you would if there was no limit on the amount you could export.
If this happens to you, would it still be worthwhile financially to get solar?
The answer is generally YES, provided that the system is sized to maximise self-consumption (i.e. you use as much as possible of your solar power in your home, rather than export it to the grid).
The typical payback for households going solar can be as lower as 3.5 years. This assumes:
- At least 40% of the power generated by the solar is used in the home
- The rest of the solar power can be exported to the grid
- You get a feed-in-tariff of at least 12c per kilowatt hour for your solar exports
- The household qualifies for the Victorian Solar Panels Rebate worth up to $2225.
However, if Powercor limits the amount that can be exported to 50%, the payback is around 4.5 years. If exports are limited to zero, the payback is around 6 years. This is still a good return, if the warranties on your system are 10 years or better.
Payback without the rebate
If you don’t qualify for the Victorian Solar Panels rebate – and Powercor does not let you export any of your excess solar power to the grid – the payback is around 9 years.
Options here would include:
- c) Reduce the size of the system to increase self-consumption to at least 40%
- b) Keep the same size system and find ways to increase self-consumption – i.e. moving more appliances from gas to electric
Going solar at the moment makes sense for the vast majority of households, even if Powercor restricts the amount of power you can export. This is particularly true if you qualify for the Victorian Solar Panels rebate.
This story was written by Jo Kaptein, organiser of the MASH (More Australian Solar Homes) community solar bulk-buy. To learn more about MASH visit mash.org.au or call 1300 466 274.