Is Solar Still Worthwhile?


When I joined the solar power industry back in the 1990s, alternative energy was something of a novelty. The only media attention it received was in Grass Roots or Earth Garden alternative living magazines. What a change now where issues affecting the solar power industry regularly make it onto the front page of the daily newspapers and have become quite a political football in recent months. So what are we to believe? Have government incentives become so meagre that installing a set of panels is just not worth it any more?

Here are a few points to remember:

  1. The decrease in incentives has come alongside dramatic reductions in the cost of solar panels so alternative energy systems can still pay for themselves within 8 to 9 years. For example, a high quality 1.5kw solar system may cost around $5,500 fully installed and will deliver up to $640 per year worth of savings assuming the price of electricity does not go up! (not very likely).
  1. The much discussed reduction in the feed-in tariff will affect some customers more than others. If you use most of your power during the day, eg for businesses, you will still be reducing your power bill by the amount you pay for electricity. Watch your savings increase with the cost of power!
  1. A normal grid connect solar power system does not give back up power, however more and more customers are choosing an upgraded system which can supply emergency electricity to all or part of the building. This gives freedom and flexibility for your home or business and certainty of supply for data, medical equipment or just to blackout-proof your home or office.


The second NSW “Solar Summit” was held on July 1 this year. The concept was to sort out the mess that the O’Farrell government has made of the renewable energy sector since taking power in March. Unfortunately, the meeting was clearly designed to fail, with only 3 of the 30 speakers having any direct involvement in the industry. It seems as though Mr O’Farrell just does not like solar! The meeting was dominated by the pro-nuclear lobby who used the opportunity to talk down the importance of the renewable sector. So, at a time when the industry is laying of 75 staff per day in the state, the so-called summit has come up with ( you guessed it) a committee to look into the issue of pricing solar feed-in power with the only brief to ensure that it does not cost any money. The solar industry urges the O’Farrell government to take a realistic approach and give our customers what can only be considered fair, ie pay the same for their feed in solar as what they pay for the dirty coal fired power you sell to them!

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