Queensland is one of Australia’s leading adopters of solar technology.
With 37.9% of residential properties in Queensland now featuring solar panels, the sunshine state has preceded its reputation with a solar adoption ranking in the top three of states and territories in Australia.
For those that have spent any time in Queensland, this will likely come as no surprise. With endless sunshine and winters that look more like a mild autumn, there is an abundance of sunlight which, in turn, means year-round solar power.
So then, if you’re looking to get in on the solar action in Queensland, you’ll be pleased to know that the Queensland state government offers multiple incentives that are designed to sweeten the deal and lower the upfront costs for you, the consumer.
As of 2023, there are two primary solar rebates available in Queensland to reward people that do adopt solar energy sources: The Small-Scale Renewable Energy Scheme and Feed-In Tariffs. In this article we will detail what these two initiatives involve, what opportunities exist for QLD residents, and how to know if you are eligible or not. We will also explore the exciting development of Private Power Plants (or Virtual Power Plants) and the exciting financial potential they provide for Queenslanders.
Table of Contents
- What is the purpose of the solar rebate
- What solar rebates are available?
- Small Scale Renewable Energy Scheme
- Feed-in Tariffs
- Private Power Plants and Wholesale Energy Trading
- Final Thoughts
What is the purpose of the QLD solar rebate incentives?
The aim of Government solar rebates and incentives is to make the adoption of solar energy more affordable and appealing for QLD residents and ultimately increase solar adoption across the state. The Queensland Government are determent to build a greener, cleaner future for Australia, while reducing the financial burden of energy bills for people living in the state.
What solar rebates are available in Queensland in 2023?
As of 2023, there are two principal rebates are available in Queensland who adopt solar energy: The Small-Scale Renewable Energy Scheme and Feed-In Tariffs. These initiatives are designed to increase solar energy adoption and make renewable energy more affordable for Queenslanders.
1. Small Scale Renewable Energy Scheme
The Small-Scale Renewable Energy Scheme (SRES) is an initiative brought in by the Australian Government to encourage the adoption of solar power and other renewable energy sources. The programme is simple – it offers financial incentives and subsidies to households and small businesses that install renewable energy systems (such as PV systems, solar water heaters, and heat pumps) using Small-Scale Technology Certificates (STCs).
What are Small Scale Technology Certificates (STCs)?
Small Scale Technology Certificates (STCs) play an integral role in the Small-Scale Renewable Energy Scheme – acting as a form of currency. Essentially, STCs are the electronic credits issued to eligible households and small business when they install a solar PV system, or other qualified renewable energy system. The value of a household’s STCs can then be offset against the installation costs of setting up the renewable energy system – effectively serving as a rebate for the beneficiary.
How do STCs work in Queensland?
In Queensland – STCs are automatically generated once you install a solar PV system, or any other eligible renewable energy system. Your STCs can be redeemed for a monetary value that is deducted from your overall system cost.
The price of STCs on the open market varies depending on market fluctuations and several other factors – but it typically ranges between $36.50 and $38.50. STCs can be traded through the open market or sold via the STC Clearing House at a fixed rate that they set – currently $40 per STC.
However, it is crucial to understand that the number of STCs you receive for your installation, and the subsequent $AUD discount you get, depends on multiple elements, including:
- The size and power of your system
- The deeming period (the time remaining until the programme end at the end of 2030)
- Your location within Queensland’s zonal rating
Who is eligible for QLD’s solar rebates?
To be eligible for the QLD Governments Small Scale Renewable Energy Scheme, there are several criteria that you must meet, including:
- The installation of the renewable energy system must occur within 12 months of creating the STCs.
- Your energy system must be approved by the Clean Energy Council and meet Australian Standards.
- Your system must comply with all federal and state requirements – including electrical safety.
- Your system must be installed by a Clean Energy Council accredited installer.
- Your system must have a maximum capacity of 100kW and a maximum annual production of 250MWh.
Once you meet these criteria, the STCs will be applied at the point of sale – meaning the seller of the renewable energy system will incorporate the discount into the selling price, and there is nothing you need to do to redeem it.
The small-scale energy systems eligible for STCs in QLD include:
- Rooftop solar
- Solar water heaters
- Wind systems
- Air source heat pumps
- Hydro systems
How many STCs will I receive?
In Queensland – the zone that you live in matters. Your STC amount can be calculated based on the location of your property, the power of your system, and the time remaining until the SRES ends – using the below formula:
Solar PV System Size (kW) x Zone rating x Deeming period = STCs
Let’s look at an example to make it a bit clearer. If you have a 3kW solar PV system installed in your property (which is a common size in QLD), you live in Brisbane which is in zone 3, and the deeming period is 7 years (from 2023 to 2030) – you will receive 29 STCs.
3 (kW) x 1.382 (zone 3 rating) x 7 (years) = 29.02
As we previously mentioned – the $AUD value of these STCs will be discounted at the point of sale. So, if we take the $40 STC valuation from the STC Clearing house, this is a discount of $1,160 taken from the price of installation.
The example above is based on Brisbane, which is in zone 3 – but every location in Queensland does not have the same zonal rating.
- If you live in Northern Queensland, you fall into zone 1 which provides the greatest STC reward at 1.622.
- Inland Queensland falls into zone 2, providing a rating of 1.536.
- The Southeast Queensland falls into zone 3, which is the lowest rating in Queensland at 1.382.
How long do STCs last?
The Small Scale Renewable Energy Scheme is scheduled to finish at the end of 2023. So, you can choose to sell or trade your certificates on the open market at any stage between now and then. However, the market does fluctuate – so we recommend you keep that in mind when choosing when to sell them.
As you can see from the formula above, the deeming period is a major contributor to the level of discount you receive for your system. So, if you do plan on installing solar in your home or small business – the sooner you do so, the better.
2. QLD’s Feed-in Tariffs
Despite feed-in tariffs sitting at an all-time low in Australia, and continuing to reduce each year, they still provide QLD residents with an opportunity to make money on solar – even if it isn’t as much as it once was.
Feed-in tariffs have been a staple in Australian solar energy for years – used to incentivise Australian people to install solar systems within their homes. Therefore, in the early years of solar energy – it made sense to offer higher rates. The rates needed to high to entice people to adopt solar, and with less people benefiting from the feed-in tariff rates – the cost for retailers was lower. Now in 2023, with solar adoption at an all-time high, it’s no surprise to see the rates continuing to decline – even if it is disappointing for solar consumers.
How do Feed-in tariffs work in QLD?
The mechanism behind feed-in tariff rates is simple – any excess energy you generate from your solar system (that you do not use yourself) can be fed into the utility grid. For every kilowatt hour (kWh) of electricity exported from your on-grid solar system, a few cents will be awarded to you. This means that as well as generating your own electricity and reducing the amount you need to purchase from your provider – you can also make money back in the process. Let’s take a closer look.
How much is the Feed in Tariff in QLD?
The solar feed-in tariff rate you receive is dependent on several factors – largely dictated by your location within Queensland. For example, the electricity market in the south-east of Queensland (SEQ) has been deregulated since July 2016, and the rates offered by retailers are very competitive. It is up to consumers living in SEQ to compare electricity offers in the market, and the Queensland Competition Authority will monitor feed-in tariffs to ensure they are reasonable and fair.
On the free-market, prices will fluctuate and vary. In 2023, the feed-in tariff rates in Southeast Queensland range between 5 – 10 cents per kilowatt-hour, so it is important to keep these figures in mind when shopping around.
The Regional Queensland feed-in tariff 2023-2024
Regional Queensland on the other hand is a lot less competitive (with less retailers in the market), so a flat-rate tariff is set by the Queensland Competition Authority – to ensure solar consumers living in these areas can fairly benefit from the electricity that they feed into the grid.
On June 9, 2023, the Queensland Competition Authority published the most up-to-date tariff for 2023-2024 at 13.441 cents per kilowatt hour.
Who is eligible for the Feed-in tariffs in Queensland?
To be eligible to receive feed-in tariffs in Queensland, there is a few conditions that you need to meet, including:
- Your solar system’s capacity should not exceed 30 kilowatts
- Your annual electricity consumption must be less than 100 megawatt hours (which is way above the average household usage)
- You must be connected to the electricity grid
- You must have a network connection agreement providing approval to connect your system to the grid
- Only one solar energy system per household is eligible to receive the tariff
Private Power Plants and Wholesale Energy Trading
As we mentioned already – feed-in tariffs have become less enticing for QLD residents and people across Australia, as the rates decline, and the potential return lessens. In response to this decline, many Queenslanders are turning to Private Power Plants (PPP) or Virtual Power Plants (VPP) to maximise their return.
Private power plants are the evolution of solar energy and the next level for anyone looking to make money from their solar batteries. Innovative solar technology means that Queenslanders can transform their homes into Private Power Plants, maximise their solar investment, and generate a new revenue stream for themselves through wholesale energy trading.
What is Energy Trading?
At its core – energy trading is a simple and lucrative method of capitalise on your excess energy with greater flexibility and financial opportunity than feed-in tariffs.
Rather than relying on the standard feed-in tariffs rates from your retailer – energy trading puts the power in your hands and allows you to sell surplus energy at wholesale prices, at a time that will benefit you more – for example, at peak usage periods. Energy trading allows you to export at these peak periods for a much greater price and import electricity at a lower cost when you need it.
The mechanism behind energy trading is simple but highly effective. At RedEarth Energy, our Private Power Plant’s smart algorithm understands your energy usage and monitors wholesale energy prices to capitalise on high prices – to help ensure you always have enough electricity stored to power your home. By adapting this approach, you not only reduce your energy bills but also minimise the payoff period of your solar battery system.
How do I make the most out of my PPP?
Thanks to the innovative solar technology we have available in 2023, and the intelligent algorithm that drives RedEarth’s Private Power Plant, leveraging your PPP and maximising returns is surprisingly straightforward.
Your RedEarth Private Power Plant dynamically responds to the market conditions to optimise your financial benefits – maintaining optimal operation and battery levels and determining the ideal time to import and export electricity. Your system can predict the peak times to export onto the grid, and spot those times where prices are lower to export electricity.
Final Thoughts on Solar Rebates in Queensland
Solar power is more than just an environmentally conscious electricity alternative. In 2023, solar is a lucrative investment for homeowners and businesses across Queensland. With opportunity to save and make money through small-scale technology certificates (STCs) and feed in tariffs, there are tremendous opportunities to switch to sustainable energy sources, save money on energy bills, foster a greener future, and make some money in the process.
Moreover, the development of Private Power Plants and the innovative technology that exists today increase the financial incentive for Queenslanders, turning their homes into revenue-generating entities. Thus, solar energy is not just affordable and accessible in QLD, it is also a way to make money, utilising the states natural abundance of sunshine. As a resident of Queensland, investing in solar power is not only a step towards a more sustainable future, but a financially wise move.