New South Wales To Announce Solar Feed In Tariff Today

New South Wales is currently one of the only states not offering a feed in tariff incentive to owners of grid connected solar power systems – but that’s about to change. 

According to various news reports, it is expected that the New South Wales government will unveil the introduction of a feed in tariff scheme to be rolled out next year when NSW Minister for Environment and Climate Change, Carmel Tebbutt, speaks at a solar power conference in Sydney later today.

A feed in tariff scheme encourages the uptake of solar power installation as it pays the system owner for electricity they generate at a rate well above market prices. There are two kinds of feed in tariffs, gross and net. The net model only pays for surplus electricity generated, over and above what the household or business uses. A gross scheme pays for all electricity generated – a gross feed in tariff model is in place in Germany and has been incredibly successful in making the country one of the most proliferate users of solar energy.

The rate to be paid will not be known until January after a taskforce reports back to the NSW government according to Carmel Tebbutt, but rumours are circulating it will be around the 60 cents per kilowatt mark. It’s also not yet known whether the program will be based on a net or gross feed in tariff. The ACT is the only state/territory offering a gross feed-in tariff, although the Western Australian government has also committed to the model

The NSW feed in tariff scheme expected to be implemented by mid-2009. The New South Wales program will be complimentary to guidelines for a more uniform national feed in tariff schemed expected to be announced by the Council of Australian Governments (COAG) meeting in a few days time.

The news comes just days after the release of a report from Access Economics carried out for the Clean Energy Council that stated a gross feed in tariff would provide a massive boost to the solar industry, encouraging the uptake of solar power and spurring investment in the technology. Access estimates a national program would cost the Federal Government $16.2 billion over the next two decades if both businesses and households were included. Such a scheme would save $610 million by in new investments in electricity generation capacity, ease the strain on grids during peak hours and substantially count towards the nation’s commitment to the MRET (Mandatory Renewable Energy Target) of 20% by 2020.