What a year it has been for solar! Constant chopping and changing to rebates and incentives has ensured that renewable energy is never far from the front page of the newspapers. While it is extremely frustrating to have such frequent and profound alterations to the regulatory regime, at least we can now see that solar power is very much in the mainstream and there to stay.
As we go to press, the NSW government is planning to introduce shameful retrospective laws changing the previously legislated 60 cent tariff to 40 cents, thus cheating 110 000 households out of the income they had calculated to earn on their environmentally aware investment. This means that all the honest citizens who faithfully took up the governments own scheme are being treated like tax cheats or criminals. Shame on you Barry O’Farrell.
The big message that our governments need to take out of all of this is that Australians love and support the renewable energy industry. Every time a government proposes a new scheme, it is taken up with such gusto by the forward thinking citizens of this sun soaked land that it invariably needs to be taken to an early conclusion.
So what is next?
Solar power can still be a very good investment, particularly if you use the bulk of your power during the day. For example, a business which can use up all the capacity of their panels at the time of the power generation will benefit to the tune of their normal power tariff, and as we all know this is set to double in the next few years. In fact, installation of a solar power system is a good hedge against unexpected increases in the cost of electricity. For example, a high quality 3 kilowatt (16 panel) system costs in the order of $13,000 installed after rebates and generates over $1,200 worth of electricity each year based on today’s prices. These savings will multiply as the price of power rises sharply in the next few years.
Alternatively, for the house holder, a well designed system used in combination with targeted time of day power use can have the same benefits. The tremendous growth in the solar sector (over 120,000 households in NSW now have solar powered rooftops), the cost of the average installation has decreased considerable over the past couple of years.
So talk to your local renewable energy retailer to find a solution tailored to your particular situation.