Solar Power Frequently Asked Questions
What is solar power?
Solar power is the generation of electricity from sunlight. A solar cell or module, is a device that converts light into electric current using the photoelectric effect. They are usually made of silicon with traces of other elements.
How does solar power work?
A solar module consists of layers of semiconductor materials with different electronic properties. In a typical crystalline module the bulk of the material in the cells are silicon doped with a small quantity of boron to give it a positive or p-type character. A thin layer on the front of the cell is doped with phosphorous to give it a negative or n-type character. The interface between these two layers contains an electric field and is called a junction. Light consists of particles called photons. When light hits the solar cell, some of the photons are absorbed in the region of the junction, freeing electrons in the silicon crystal. If the photons have enough energy the electrons will be able to overcome the electric field at the junction and are free to move through the silicon and into an external circuit. The generation of electricity from sunlight is completely solid state and self-contained. There are no moving parts and no materials are consumed or emitted.
Why would you consider solar power?
With solar power there is no fuel price volatility unlike electricity, etc. Although there is variability in the amount of sunlight over the day and year, a properly sized and configured system can be designed for high reliability while providing a long term, fixed price electricity supply.
With no moving parts solar power is one of the most reliable forms of electricity generation. Solar cells generate electricity without air or water emissions, noise, vibration, habitat impact or waste generation.
Unlike other renewable resources such as hydroelectric and wind power, solar power can be utilized anywhere there is sunlight and directly where the power will be used. As a result, solar power limits the expense of and energy losses associated with transmission and distribution from large scale electric plants to the end users.
Solar power systems can be sized to meet your specific energy needs ranging from very small consumer applications to larger commercial power requirements.
Three main benefits to get solar installed now
Solar credits help you pay the upfront costs of installing by earning small scale technology certificates or renewable energy certificates (STC’s / REC’s) for the amount of energy that you generate.
Rising Energy Cost – Installing a solar system is the most effective way of safeguarding yourself from the rising energy costs.
Play your part and help the environment by generating clean, sustainable electricity and reduce the amount of energy your home consumes and reduce your carbon foot print.
Solar Credit Scheme
The federal governments Solar Credits Scheme is open to all Australian residents without the need for a previously required means test. This new incentive utilises the existing Small Scale Technology Certificate system (or Solar Credits) for systems. If you were not previously eligible under the old $8,000 rebate scheme, you will now be eligible for incentives under this new scheme. These Credits will assist with the upfront cost of installing roof top PV systems. Solar Credits will apply to new installations of household scale renewable energy generators eligible under the scheme.
Under the solar credits scheme, home owners can receive certificates for the lifetime generation of the system either upfront or over longer time periods of one, five or fifteen years. This is called the deeming period.Solar power systems with a capacity above 1.5 kW will be eligible for the standard 1:1 rate of STC creation. The credits will only apply to the first solar power system installed at an address.
Under the existing Solar Credit scheme, a 1.5 kilowatt solar PV system is eligible for 31 Small Scale Technology Certificates (STCs) valued at around $1240.
The exact level of subsidy will depend on a number of factors including:
The price of Renewable Energy Certificates (RECs)
The deeming period chosen by application (see above)
The location of the solar PV system and the size of the system
What are Small Scale Technology Certificates?
Small Scale Technology Certificates (or STCs) are an electronic form of currency initiated by theRenewable Energy (Electricity) Act 2000. They may be created on the internet based registry system (known as the REC Registry) by eligible parties for each megawatt-hour of eligible renewable electricity generated or deemed to have generated. They are created by registered persons and are validated by the Office of the Renewable Energy Regulator. They are traded between registered persons and are eventually surrendered to demonstrate liability compliance against the requirements of the Australian Government’s mandatory renewable energy target
About Feed In Tariffs
A feed-in tariff is a premium rate paid for electricity produced by a renewable source such as an on grid solar power system or a wind turbine, usually over and above the market rate for electricity.
There are many types of feed in tariffs, with many different rates and details.
A net feed-in tariff, also known as export metering, pays the owner of the solar power system only for surplus energy they produce or export to the grid over and above what they use from the electricity grid.
Whereas a gross feed in tariff pays the owner of the solar power system for all electricity generated by your on grid solar power system.
Australia currently has no nationalised feed-in tariff program, only state run schemes.
Frequently asked Questions about On-Grid Solar Power Systems
What is the difference between a solar power system and a solar hot water system?
Solar modules take light from the sun and make electricity, while solar hot water systems take heat from the sun to heat water.
What is an on-grid solar power system?
An on-grid solar power system is a solar power system that is connected to the electricity grid. Often these systems are located in major cities and regional towns. They supply renewable energy from the solar modules through to an inverter and into the electricity grid if the system is providing more energy than the house is using.
Does the position of the system on my roof really matter?
Yes – most certainly. For example, a system with solar panels facing in a westerly direction will generate far less than one with a northerly aspect.
What size system will I need to run my home?
All solar power systems should be sized to your energy usage and based on your geographical location. A 1 kW system is typically the smallest on-grid system available and can help reduce the average electricity bill by roughly 15 to 25%. This does depend on the time of day you consume your energy and any local feed in tariffs that utilities offer in your state. All on-grid solar power systems will reduce your yearly power consumption and therefore your power bill. Typically, the bigger the system, the bigger the benefit.
Residential users and this includes all pensioners will NOT have to pay tax on revenues from feed in tariffs. The ATO have issued a ruling on this, which says income from PV is not taxable, see link below. It is worth noting that in exchange for being non taxable income, you can’t get depreciation benefits either.
Small business and commercial organisations are subject to declare the income and every person should also check thees details with a professional tax agent, as everyone’s tax situation can be different.
What can affect the amount of solar energy received?
The amount of sunlight that reaches the solar modules will greatly affect the energy generated. Solar modules will still produce power on a cloudy day although they will probably only produce about 20-50% as much as under full sun, depending on the cloud cover. Shading and the general location of the modules will play a part in the energy output of the system.
Is there any maintenance involved?
As solar modules have no moving parts and most offer a 25 year power output warranties, there is very little maintenance required. We will explain how to clean the modules to ensure dust and dirt does not affect their ability to generate electricity and the rest of the system will be covered by manufacturers warranties and our workmanship guarantee’s.
Should I choose mono crystalline, thin film or poly crystalline solar modules?
Today, there is very little difference between mono crystalline and poly crystalline technology in terms of energy output. Thin film panels offer less energy yield per meter of roof space, so if you have limited roof space for your solar power system it may be wise to stick with the crystalline technology.
If my energy requirements increase, can I upgrade the system?
Yes. We can offer you expansion options when discussing the right system for your needs. Additional solar modules can be added at any time to increase the amount of energy your system can generate but you might have to upgrade to a larger inverter. Alternatively you could purchase a larger inverter when installing the system initially therefore planning for the expansion up front.
Can I insure my grid connect system?
Most insurers will allow you to include the system under your home and contents insurance, but please check with your insurance company first.
What happens with on-grid systems during a blackout?
Your system inverter will automatically shut itself off within a few milliseconds of a blackout due to safety reasons. Therefore even though you have a solar system during a blackout you will not have power available. If you want to have energy available from your solar power system during a blackout, we can design your system with a back up battery bank sized correctly. While this will increase the cost of the system, you will also have electricity available to your home for peace of mind.
Where should I install the inverter?
Usually the inverter is placed alongside your homes meter box. The inverter is silent and has a display to show the amount of electricity generated and other data options.
Encompass Business Park
F10, 101 Rookwood Rd
Yagoona NSW 2199
8/3-7 Nesbit Street,
Wagga Wagga, NSW 2650
4/12 Hotchkin PI Kewdale, WA 6105
ABN: 95 608 260 340 :: Electric License no: 295291C