Over the past decade Australians have embraced solar energy. A decade ago, less than 100,000 rooftop solar systems were installed in Australia. Now in 2020, that figure is over 2.3 million.
This stellar increase is largely due to increased public awareness of the benefits of solar and a steep reduction in costs of panels and inverters. Today, solar power systems cost 50% less to install than they did in 2012.
Solar energy is virtually free, after installation costs. It is clean, renewable, and – if done right – can cut electricity bills substantially.
But solar’s success is also due to federal and state government support schemes for solar installation and the installation of home storage batteries, like the Tesla Powerwall 2.
So let’s take a look at the rebates, subsidies and incentives available to you and how you can access them.
There are three main sources of solar incentives available to Australian households. They are from:
- Federal government
- State governments (some, but not all)
- Electricity retailers
An overview of what’s available state-by-state is shown in the chart below:
|Federal Government||Electricity retailer||State governments|
|Small-scale Technology Certificates||Feed-in tariff (for solar exports)||Solar panels rebate||Home batteries rebate||Interest-free loans|
|VIC||YES||YES||YES – up to $1,888 for eligible households||YES – in selected postcodes||YES – up to $1,888 for home owners installing solar panels|
|SA||YES||YES||YES – for concession card holders in Adelaide||YES – govt rebate and also incentives for joining a virtual power plant||YES|
|NSW||YES||YES||YES – free solar for low income households in certain locations||NO||YES – major rollout starts Q1 2020 for solar and batteries|
|ACT||YES||YES||YES – for low income households||YES||NO|
All Australian households and small businesses can get the subsidy for solar panels from the federal government, called Small-scale Technology Certificates. The value of this subsidy varies by location but as a rule of thumb it reduces the upfront cost of solar power systems by around 30%. It is one of the most valuable solar subsidies available.
At state level, the picture is highly varied. For people living in Victoria, NSW, South Australia or the ACT, there are a number of state government rebates and incentives for solar and/or home batteries. If you live in WA, Queensland, Tasmania or the Northern Territory there are currently no state government incentives for solar or batteries.
Households in all states of Australia are recompensed by their electricity retailer for any excess solar power their system generates and is exported to the grid. This is called a feed-in tariff and it appears as a credit on your electricity bill. The value of the feed-in tariff varies from state to state and between electricity retailers. It is recommended that you shop around to get the electricity supply deal that best meets your requirements.
Australian Federal Government Solar Incentive
The granddaddy of all Australian solar incentives is a federal government program known as the Small-scale Renewable Energy Scheme. It was put in place by the federal government in 2011 to help achieve Australia’s Renewable Energy Target.
The Small-scale Renewable Energy scheme uses a mechanism, known as Small-scale Technology Certificates (STCs), which reduce the upfront cost of installing solar.
STCs have been hugely successful as a way of stimulating demand for solar amongst households and small businesses. Available to everyone in Australia, STCs are a subsidy well worth having. Without it, the cost of solar would be around 30% higher.
The scheme awards a number of STCs to households and businesses that install solar panels. STCs are available for systems up to 100kW.
The size of the solar system you purchase – based on the kilowatts of solar panels installed – determines the number of STCs you get. The value of STCs varies depending on where you live, with sunnier regions like northern Queensland earning more per STC than cooler climes like Tasmania. (Find out more about how STCs are calculated.)
- STCs are available to anyone living anywhere in Australia for solar panels installations up to 100kW.
- You do not need to apply for Small-scale Technology Certificates. They are typically applied as a point of sale discount by your solar retailer.
- Each STC has a dollar value. Your solar retailer redeems this for you in a government regulated market. Your solar retailer then deducts the value of your STCs from the cost of your system.
- There is no limit to the number of properties you can get STCs for (i.e. for your main residence, your holiday home, your small business, your rental property).
- The scheme is being slowly phased out, with a reduction in the value of STCs occurring on the 1st of January each year through to 2030. The scheme will end on 31 December 2030.
How the STC process works with Energy Matters’ Network of Partners
When you select one of Energy Matters partners as your solar power system supplier and installer, they simplify the process. Here’s how it works:
- Submit for 3 solar quotes from Energy Matters’ network of solar retailers & installers.
- They will call & email you an obligation-free quote on the basis of the information you provide, including the amount of the discount you get for your STCs.
- Accept the quote and pay the deposit.
- They will install your new solar system.
The electricity distribution network has ‘downloads’ and ‘uploads’ of electricity. When you ‘download’ electricity from the main grid you are charged by your retailer.
But if you have solar panels you can sometimes ‘upload’ power too, and the retailer pays you for this. This payment is called the feed-in tariff.
How much you get paid by the feed-in tariff not only varies from state to state, but between retailers. To find out more about how much you’re likely to get, go to our feed-in tariff page.
Remember, feed-in tariffs can change, so check the latest solar feed-in tariffs with your electricity retailer.
Australian States and Territories- Household Solar Incentives
Victoria – solar rebates and incentives
Following Labor’s election victory on November 24 2018, Victorians can now apply for a rebate through the Victorian Solar Homes program. This is a $1.3 billion program to help subsidise the cost of installing solar panels, solar hot water systems or batteries on around 770,000 Victorian homes over a ten-year period.
The following rebates for solar power systems are available:
|Type of rebate||Amount||No. available 2019-20|
|Solar panels rebate – for owner-occupiers||Up to $1,888||64,416|
|Interest-free loan – for owner-occupiers||Up to $1,888||64,416|
|Solar panels rebate – for rental properties||Up to $1,888||1,200 per month, approx. (correct as of Feb 2020)|
This rebate works like a point-of-sale discount, reducing the upfront cost of solar. Households and landlords need to apply for the rebates and meet certain eligibility criteria. The scheme is in additional to the federal ‘rebate’ known as Small-scale Technology Certificates described above.
For owner/occupiers, the Solar Panels rebate together with the interest-free loan, can reduce the upfront cost of solar by up to $3,776.
The process for applying for rebates has been simplified greatly since the scheme was relaunched in July 2019. A reputable, well-organised solar retailer should be able to assist you with the process.
Note: The value of the Solar Panels Rebate will reduce to $1,850 from 1 July 2020.
GET IN QUICK: Fill out our Victorian Solar Homes rebate form or call us on 1800 362 883
South Australia – solar rebates and incentives
If you live in South Australia and you are interested in solar and/or home batteries, then you are in luck. There are a number of attractive incentive programs available to you.
1.) The South Australian Home Battery Scheme
The South Australian Home Battery Scheme offers subsidies of up to $6,000 to South Australians to install home batteries as well as low interest finance. The aim of the scheme is to help 40,000 South Australian households get a home battery installed. It is open to all South Australians. The state government has committed $100 million for subsidising the cost of batteries.
An additional $100 million has been provided by the Clean Energy Finance Corporation which is available to provide finance through RateSetter to help households pay the balance for the subsidised battery and new or additional solar if required.
Home batteries not only give homes protection against power outages. They also store solar power generated during the day, for use at night. Eligible batteries include Enphase, LG Chem and the popular Tesla Powerwall 2.
You can fill out a Home Battery Scheme inquiry form through Energy Matters here.
2.) Virtual Power Plants
With a battery, your home can also be connected to a virtual power plant and you can be paid for becoming part of an integrated energy trading system. This battery networking capability is fast becoming the new frontier for power trading and energy saving.
There are a wide range of offers available (from electricity retailers and/or battery suppliers) including:
- Discounts off the cost of purchasing home batteries (in addition to the state government home battery subsidy and interest-free loan)
- A daily credit (sometimes as high as $7) that you are paid for allowing your electricity retailer to use the power stored in your battery.
- Competitive feed-in tariff
Over 1,000 South Australian households – both homeowners and tenants – have already signed up to be part of a virtual power plant.
With big players in this market, like Tesla, Simply Energy and AGL, there are a range of attractive competing offers that make battery storage a compelling proposition for many South Australian households.
3. Sustainability Incentives Scheme – City of Adelaide
This scheme provides rebates for solar power systems for concession card holders and landlords with a property in the City of Adelaide. The subsidy is worth:
- 20% up to $1,000 for 1.5 kW to ≤ 10 kW
- 20% up to $2,500 for > 10 kW to ≤ 20 kW
- Capped at $5,000 for installations greater than 20kW
You can check the basics and eligibility here.
NSW – solar rebates and incentives
The NSW state government is getting right behind solar and home batteries with two exciting trial programs in 2020:
- Solar for Low Income Households
- Free 3kW solar power systems
- Available now
- Empowering Homes
- Interest-free loans for solar and batteries
- Launching Q1 2020
1. Solar for Low Income Households
The NSW government is trialling a new way of helping people on low incomes reduce their electricity bills by installing a free 3 kilowatt solar systems on their homes. This trial is available to up to 3,000 low-income households in selected NSW regions. Eligibility criteria include:
- You must be the owner-occupier
- You currently get the Low Income Household Rebate
- Use at least 3600 kilowatt hours (kWh) of electricity a year
- Live in one of the following regions:
- Central Coast
- North Coast
- Sydney – South
- Illawarra – Shoalhaven
- South Coast
For more information visit: https://energysaver.nsw.gov.au/households/solar-and-battery-power/solar-low-income-households
2. Empowering Homes
Due to launch in Q1 2020, the Empowering Homes program will provide interest-free loans for solar battery systems to eligible NSW residents.
The loans that will be available are:
- Solar + battery system – up to $14,000
- Adding a battery to an existing solar system – up to $9,000
When the program launches, it will be available to eligible households in the Hunter Region. This pilot will run for 12 months.
Eligibility criteria include:
- You must be the owner-occupier
- Your combined household income must be no greater than $180,000
- You must live in one of the selected postcodes (these will be published on launch)
Over the next 10 years, this program will support the installation of up to 300,000 solar battery systems. It will also add up to 3,000 megawatt hours of storage into the NSW energy system.
In 2016 the ACT Government legislated a target of sourcing 100% of the Territory’s electricity from renewable sources. To help achieve this target, the ACT Government is providing two major incentive programs to encourage ACT households to install solar and home batteries.
1.) Solar for Low Income Program
The Solar for Low Income Households Program provides a subsidy of up to 50% of the total cost of a solar rooftop system. The subsidy is capped at $2,500.
To be eligible, you must:
- Hold an Australian Government Pensioner Concession Card;
- Be a homeowner in the ACT
- Not already have rooftop solar
For full details, including eligibility criteria visit: https://www.actsmart.act.gov.au/what-can-i-do/homes/Actsmart-household-solar-for-low-income?SQ_VARIATION_1142168=0
2.) Next Generation Energy Storage Program:
The Next Generation Energy Storage Program provides Australian Capital Territory households and businesses with a discount to install battery storage connecting it to an existing solar power system, or as part of a brand new solar and storage system.
The rebate is worth $825 per kilowatt (kW) up to a maximum of 30 kW. A standard household with a 5kW system would typically be eligible for around $4,000 in support.
Through this program, the ACT Government will support the installation of up to 5,000 battery storage systems in ACT homes and businesses. It is delivered through a small number of battery storage suppliers, selected through a competitive process by the ACT Government.
To find out more and request a quote, visit (insert lead form – this goes to EverGen, SolaHart, SolarHub – if they are clients of EM).
Queensland – solar rebates and incentives
Queensland, the ‘Sunshine State’, leads the country with the uptake of rooftop solar on households. As of February 2020, there are more than 560,000 households connected to solar.
Currently, the Queensland government does not offer any rebates or financial incentives for solar panels or battery storage systems for households. The only subsidy for solar for Queensland households is the federal government’s Small-scale Technology Certificates. The good news is that Queenslanders qualify for higher value STCs due to their sunny location.
Western Australia – solar rebates and incentives
There are currently no state subsidies from the Western Australian government for solar or home batteries. However, most Western Australian homes and businesses qualify for above-average STCs for solar from the federal government.
Tasmania – solar rebates and incentives
There are currently no state government rebates for solar or home batteries.
Northern Territory – solar rebates and incentives
There are no solar or battery storage rebates specific to the Northern Territory however the value of the federal government STCs are at the highest level, in most parts of the Northern Territory.