Does Australia’s solar ‘freight train’ signal the end of solar subsidies?

Booming solar power in US reflects values of free society.Rooftop solar booms in US.

Some energy leaders are calling for an end to solar subsidies as the solar industry enjoys exponential growth.

Six solar panels are installed every minute in Australia, according to the Australian Energy Market Operator (AEMO). Furthermore, solar costs have also fallen steadily over the last decade.

AEMO CEO Audrey Zibelman told the National Energy Summit this week that it’s time for one of the last remaining solar subsidies to go – the Small-Scale Renewable Energy Scheme (SRES).

Some conference experts in furious agreement on SRES

Australia’s booming solar industry no longer needs the assistance of subsidies. That’s the verdict of some leading energy figures, especially those committed to grid style supply, at this week’s national energy conference in Sydney.

Solar subsidies should end soon say industry experts.

Industry experts are calling for an end to the federal solar subsidy. There’s never been a better time to install solar panels.

Chairman of the Energy Security Board Kerry Schott told the conference that break-neck solar uptake was causing “anarchy” in the energy market.

Some state and federal solar subsidies are being phased out as the renewable surge has gained its own momentum. Bucking the trend has been Victoria which has its Solar Homes program, South Australia’s battery support and Queensland’s  no interest loan programs. However, support for any subsidy program is fragile, which illustrates the importance of taking advantage of them when they are available.

The remaining federal SRES is part of its Renewable Energy Target (RET). This has provided a financial incentive for households to install small-scale renewables.

The case for installing solar now

The SRES is due to run until 2030, when the scheme officially ends. However, the level of subsidy available to householders installing new solar will drop every year leading up to 2030.

This is because the deeming period reduces each year. Because of this dwindling value, now is a good time to get a solar quote and install solar power in your home.

Under the SRES, when you pay for a solar panel installation you receive a number of Small-scale Technology Certificates (STCs). The number varies according to size of unit installed and where you live.

Energy Matters offers solar quotes with your eligible discount already built in, reducing the upfront cost of your installation.  This also saves you the effort of selling your STCs on the open market or registering with the government clearing house to recoup the amount.

Call to bring forward end of solar subsidies

Origin Energy Managing Director Frank Calabria and EnergyAustralia Chief Mark Collette both agree that solar subsidies should end. The solar industry is running “faster than a freight train” Collette says.

Meanwhile, the Chairman of the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) Rodd Sims says the SRES should end in 2021 rather than 2030.

This was a key recommendation in the final report of the ACCC’s Retail Electricity Pricing Inquiry.

Solar subsidies are cross-subsidised by customers who can’t afford solar panels, Sims says. Apartment dwellers are also unable to install them.

Australia is gradually rolling back high feed-in tariffs. Victoria, South Australia and NSW have also cut their solar bonus schemes.