Can I Get Free Solar Panels in the Northern Territory?
The Northern Territory government is dedicated to achieving 50% renewable energy by 2030. As part of this plan, the territory government is providing subsidies and incentives to its residents to lower the upfront costs of installing solar power systems and other energy-efficient products. With such programs in place, does the NT government also offer free solar panels?
No, the Northern Territory government does not offer free solar panels to its residents. However, the federal government’s STCs scheme and the NT Home and Business Battery Schemes are available for all eligible homeowners and businesses.
There are also green loans that will essentially get you into solar with no upfront cost, and the savings will allow you to pay it off in 3 – 4 years.
Before installing solar panels, it is wise to determine whether your state offers programs to support homeowners, businesses, low-income households, and pensioners.
Here are the solar rebates and grants you can qualify for in the Northern Territory:
NT gov solar rebate
NT residents benefit from the federal government’s solar rebates awarded as Small Scale Technology Certificates (STCs). The rebate helps homeowners reduce the upfront costs of installing solar panels, making solar power affordable to all eligible homeowners.
If you are an eligible NT homeowner, you can qualify for a rebate of $2,528 for the popular 5 kW solar system. For a 10 kW system, you can get a rebate of up to $5,096.
The exact rebate amount will depend on factors such as your solar system size and the current STC value.
Find out more about the NT government’s solar rebate here.
Solar and battery grants NT
The NT government implemented two new initiatives to encourage its residents to install solar power systems and behind-the-metre batteries.
1. NT solar battery grant (Home and Business Battery Scheme)
The NT Home and Business Battery Scheme (HBBS) was initiated on April 14, 2020, and supports the NT government’s plan of 50% renewables by 2030.
This program supports Northern Territory homeowners, businesses, and non-profit and community organisations with grants to purchase and install:
- Solar PV systems with an eligible battery system and inverter or
- An eligible battery system and inverter only for those who already have a solar PV system installed.
The minimum size for eligible battery systems is 7 kWh.
Eligible homeowners and businesses can apply for a $450/kWh grant for usable solar battery system capacity. The maximum grant you can apply for is $6,000.
Behind-the-metre batteries help reduce power costs for homeowners and businesses by reducing the amount of electricity that has to be purchased from the power grid.
Who can apply?
You can apply for the HBBS grant if you are:
- A registered residential property owner in the Northern Territory
- A registered business in the NT
- A not-for-profit or community organisation in the NT (owned or leased property).
You are only allowed to submit one application per property and per homeowner. The property can either be owner-occupied or an investment.
Homeowners who own a business can apply for one grant for their homes and another for their business.
2. Solar feed-in tariff in NT
The premium Feed-in Tariff provided by Jacana Energy was designed to encourage NT homeowners and businesses to install solar PV panels when the industry was still young and solar power installation costs were still high.
Now that solar PV system installation costs have significantly reduced, the NT government has implemented reforms to the FiT to encourage NT residents to install battery storage systems through the Home and Business Battery Scheme.
Changes to the FiT
On April 5, 2020, the NT government scrapped its premium FiT of 26 c/kWh. It then announced a new standard feed-in tariff of 8.3 cents per kWh (excluding GST), equivalent to the amount of electricity exported to the power grid.
New Jacana Energy customers would now receive the new FiT rate. Existing customers would not be affected unless they moved to new premises, upgraded their solar system after the cut-off date, or applied for the Home and Business Battery Scheme to purchase and install a home or business battery system.
Customers who installed solar systems before April 5, 2020, are eligible for the premium FiT.
As of February 2023, the standard FiT rate in NT is 9.13 c/kWh.
Community batteries for household solar grants
The Community Batteries for Household Solar program is no longer available.
This $200 million solar program is aimed at enabling Australians to:
- Store solar power to use during peak periods and share the excess energy with other households in their locality.
- Lower the cost of electricity.
- Reduce pressure on the power grid.
- Help Australia reach net zero emissions by 2050.
The Community Batteries for Household Solar program will provide grants of up to $29 million to communities, industry groups, research organisations, businesses, and government agencies to install community battery storage systems in specific locations across Australia.
The program will deploy 400 community-scale storage batteries that will cater to up to 100,000 households across Australia.
The program guidelines are available at:
- Community Batteries for Household Solar Program: Delivery of Election Commitments Stream 1: will deploy 56 community batteries in specific locations.
- Community Batteries for Household Solar Program: Delivery of Election Commitments Stream 2: will deploy 2 community batteries in specific locations by specific project advocates.
The remaining 342 community battery storage systems will be offered by ARENA (Australian Renewable Energy Agency).
How much do solar panels cost in Darwin
Like many states in Australia, the cost of solar panels is declining daily due to the industry’s many technological advancements.
Here are the current average costs of popular solar PV systems in Darwin, NT:
|Solar system size||Average cost|
How much do solar batteries cost in Darwin
If you are looking to install solar batteries in Darwin, NT, here are the current out-of-pocket costs, including installation and GST.
Average battery cost (fully installed)
|Solar battery size||Solar battery price only||Solar battery price plus inverter/charger|
Yes! The benefits of installing solar panels in Darwin and generally across Australia are many. Although the upfront installation costs are high, you can get access to federal government solar rebates and other grants to lower the installation cost.
In Darwin, sunshine is abundant, so your solar system will generate enough electricity to power your home. You may even have excess energy to send to the power grid in exchange for credits that you can use to offset your power bill in the future. More so, you will enjoy free electricity once the solar system pays for itself.
The Smart Energy Grant Program NT is a $4 million energy-efficient initiative run through a 50-50 co-contribution voucher system for up to $1,000 to residential or investment property owners to install energy-efficient systems on their properties.
If you are an approved and eligible NT pensioner or carer’s scheme member, your co-contribution will be only 25%.
Eligible works under this program include:
- Solar PV panel installation
- Installation of solar battery systems connected to the solar system
- Solar hot water system installations or replacement
- Energy-efficient pool pump installation
- Smart metre installation
In the Northern Territory, all building and construction works in declared Building Control Areas, including solar PV panel installation, must comply with the Building Act and Regulations.
The certification of the building works should be done. Also, the building works must be in compliance with all applicable construction standards and codes.
Author: Ben McInerney is a renewable energy enthusiast with the goal of helping more Australians understand solar systems to make the best choice before they purchase. Having an accredited solar installer in the family helps give Ben access to the correct information, which allows him to break it down and make it easily understandable to the average homeowner.