Changes to Queensland’s Solar Bonus Scheme

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There has been an intended change announced for Queensland’s Solar Bonus Scheme, the state’s popular feed in tariff initiative. However, unlike the recent New South Wales announcement putting on hold the NSW program of the same name, Queensland’s alteration will not affect most prospective home solar power buyers.

The Queensland Government intends limiting the size of eligible individual solar power systems to 5 kilowatt capacity and to allow only one system per premises. Previously, the maximum size system eligible was 30kW.

With most residential solar buyers wanting far smaller systems – usually around the 1.5kW to 2.5kW range, very few households are expected to be affected; although there will likely be some impact on the medium scale and commercial solar power sector.

Queensland’s solar feed in tariff rate will remain at a 44 cents per kilowatt hour for surplus electricity generated by solar panels exported to the mains grid. According to information on Energy Matters’ web site;  an entry level 1.44kW solar power system in Brisbane will generate savings of approximately $796 a year.

Energy and Water Utilities Minister Stephen Robertson said the popular program had seen solar power uptake skyrocket in the state, with more than 72,000 Queenslanders joining up to the scheme. Queensland now has 149 megawatts of installed home solar power capacity, a massive jump from 3.2 megawatts before the initiative was introduced.

In March 2008 there were only 78 accredited solar installers in Queensland and according to Mr. Robertson, there are now approximately 690 installers in the state.

Sustainable Energy Association of Australia (SEA) Chief Executive, Professor. Ray Wills, applauded the change. “The certainty provided by consistent policy approaches using market mechanisms to stimulate the Queensland renewable energy industry is welcomed.”

Professor Wills said other Australian governments “would do well to look to the Queensland approach to policy for renewable energy.”

While Queensland’s Solar Bonus Scheme looks assured of a generally bright future after the announcement, the New South Wales Solar Bonus Scheme remains in limbo, with the legality of putting the program on hold in the manner it was now in question.