GRID SYSTEM UPDATE

Posted on February 11, 2019

Grid Feed Solar Power Systems have very much changed over the last ten years. In this article we aim to cover the most significant changes that have occurred, including Smart NET Metering, Average System Size, and Installation Standards.

NET Metering

Every solar system in NSW should have a NET meter installed once the installation of Solar Panels and inverter(s) has been completed. NET Meters measure bi-directional flow of electricity, which means, both import and export are measured through a single meter. It also means that electricity can be used in the home before excess energy is exported to the grid.

In the times of the old 60c/kWh Feed-in-Tariff (FiT) scheme, it made sense to install a Gross meter. A Gross Meter measured all of your solar generation and exported it all to the grid for 60c/kWh. During that time, usage rates averaged 20-40c/kWh, so you were receiving 20-40c/kwh more from solar than you were paying for electricity.  Now, with Feed-in-Tariffs (FiTs) being much lower (6-20c/kWh) and usage costs staying quite high, it is more profitable to use the solar generated in the home as much as possible, and only export what doesn’t get used.   

As all the high FiTs finished in January 2017, those systems which were Gross metered should now be installing NET meters. The good news is this should be free of charge from your energy retailer, though the process can be difficult. We will cover this process including the unknown costs in another article.    

Average System Size, Batteries & STC Rebates

In 2010 the average system size installed was around 1.5kW-2kW. This would have cost around $6,300 after rebates and included 10-12 x 185W panels that were about 13-14% efficient. Nine years later, the most popular solar system is 5kW in size, includes 15 x 355W Modules with a panel efficiency of 18% and would cost around $6,000-$7000 after rebates. As you can see, there are a few rather large differences here:

  •  Systems have more than doubled in size,
  • Prices of components have decreased, and
  • Price per Watt has decreased dramatically. 

Currently, the discount (or rebate) received for solar installations are called Small-Scale Technology Certificates (STC’s). These certificates are created based on the size of the solar system installed a deeming period in years, and a dollar figure per STC. The STC deeming period is being reduced by one year every year until 2030, at which time this government rebate is due to finish.  

Household Lithium batteries are becoming a daily question as these are set to be the next solar boom. While a few states have already introduced rebates for battery systems, NSW is yet to put anything official on the table. At the moment there are quite a few different brands and options available to every household, however, some research is required before adding a battery system to ensure it achieves the desired result. Another thing to consider is that this is still a new technology to your everyday household and some of the more affordable options are still ironing out the bugs.     

Installation Standards

Installation standards have changed multiple times in recent years, which is great for the industry. Regulators are tightening the leash on what is acceptable practice and penalising those for not keeping up to date. Installation standards mostly affect those who wish to upgrade their existing 5 year old system. Usually this would require re-wiring of the old system and upgrading the inverter, provided components are still on the Clean Energy Council (CEC) Registry. For these people it generally makes more sense to install a completely new system and either leave the old one as is, or remove it all together. New installs should already be following rules and guidelines so changes to these won’t have much of an impact.   

Solar Power Australia have been installing solar systems for 19 years and our solar technicians, electricians and installers keep up-to-date with all current standards and practices. If you’d like to know more about how solar power can be of benefit to your home or business, give us a call on 4954 3310.