Who Is Eligible for The Solar Rebate?
The Australian solar rebate, which has been running for a few years now, provides citizens with attractive financial assistance to purchase solar panels. Under the STC scheme,
Australians can access rebates that cover over 50% of the initial solar cost. So far, millions of Australians across the country have installed small-scale residential solar PV systems thanks to the program.
Unlike some state-level rebates, the federal STC-based rebate is open to all Australians interested in purchasing solar panels. All you need to have is a place to install the panels and enough money to cover the rest of the costs after the rebate has been applied.
The solar rebate is, by far, one of the most successful green energy programs run by the federal government in partnership with private solar companies. The aim is to have nearly 100% of Australian residents switching to green energy by 2030.
How Does the Rebate Work?
The Australian solar rebate is provided in a scheme referred to as the small-scale technology certificates scheme. Under the scheme, each kilowatt of solar PV you install is eligible for a number of small-scale certificates that can be sold or surrendered to the retailer for a hefty point of sale rebate.
At the heart of the solar rebate scheme is the zoning system. Here, you will be eligible for a number of small-scale certificates based on where you reside and the zone you are in. Each zone has a different STC rating based on the Clean Energy Council’s assessment of annual solar radiation, demand for solar products, and other factors.
Above is a map showing all the four zones in Australia covered by the STC solar rebate. The zoning system relies on postcodes to identify locations for each rebate application.
The table below shows the STC rating assigned to each zone. The higher the rating, the more STCs, and hence the bigger the rebate, you can claim for any solar PV system you purchase.
Using the zoning above, you can see that a person in zone 1 would receive slightly more STCs as compared to one in zone 2. We shall cover how the zone ratings can be used to calculate the rebate you can get later. In some cases, those near or zone borders may find themselves having to make do with lower rebates by virtue of their postcodes.
Is the Solar Rebate Different in Every State?
Federal rebates are not divided according to states. Instead, the zoning system is used to calculate what each applicant is eligible for based on their postcode. For instance, some zones will have multiple states in them and others share states.
That said, some Australian states such as the state of Victoria do offer state-level rebates that you can claim on top of the federal STC solar rebate. For instance, eligible Victorians can currently claim a rebate of up to $2,225 to go towards their solar purchase and other green energy rebates.
It would be best if you found out from your retailer which zone you are in so that you have an idea of the number STCs you can receive. This can also be verified using the Clean Energy Regulator’s STC calculator by inputting your postcode in the form. Your zone alongside other STC details will be displayed as part of the results after calculating your STCs.
How Do I Apply?
Applying for the solar rebate can be done at an individual level or with a registered solar retailer/ vendor, with the latter being the most convenient and most preferred.
At an individual level, you will first need to purchase an eligible small-scale solar PV system (10kw or less in capacity) and have it installed before you make the STC application. The entire application is made through the Clean Energy Regulator’s portal. After receiving your certificates, you will then need to find a way to trade them using any of the available STC trading websites in Australia.
STC prices tend to fluctuate based on forces of demand and supply, so be sure to sell them at a reasonable price and in good time.
Most people prefer to assign the STC application to the solar retailer/ agent. The agent will offer the entire rebate you are eligible for as a point of sale discount and apply for the certificates later. Using this method means you don’t have to worry about your application being rejected or delayed past the 12-month window.
How Do I Calculate the Solar Rebate?
As mentioned earlier, you can use the Clean Energy Regulator’s STC calculator to find out how much in rebates you are eligible for. However, you can also calculate your solar rebate using the following formula:
(Solar PV capacity x deeming period x zone rating) x current STC value.
The capacity of your solar PV is provided in Kw. For instance, you can purchase a 5Kw Solar PV package. The deeming period refers to the number of years between the time you install the solar panels to the time when the rebate scheme ends in 2030. For instance, if you apply in 2021, the deeming period will be 11 years.
Suppose you were to purchase a 5Kw system in zone 1 in 2021? Your rebate could be calculated as follows:
(5 x 10 x1.622) x $39.40. The result in brackets will give you the number of small-scale certificates you are eligible for (81) while the overall result will give you the rebate value at current STC rates, which is 3,195.34 Australian dollars. This is the amount that shall be given to you as a point of sale rebate during purchase.
How Much Is an STC Worth?
STC values fluctuate depending on the forces of demand and supply in the open market. For instance, at the time of publishing this guide, the STC value is currently at $39.40 per certificate. This value can change throughout the year as more STC claims are approved, and STC values availed to the market.
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.