Australia receives a lot of sun. The sun is a large energy provider and has the means of establishing a growing and prosperous source of energy.
On average, Australia is given 58 million petajoules (PJ) of solar radiation per year translating to the highest average of solar radiation per square metre of all the continents in the world. This high dose of solar energy is 10,000 times more than the total energy Australia is currently consuming - what could we do with all that energy?
Australia has the potential to benefit from its sunny position in the Southern Hemisphere through increasing its use of solar electricity. Currently, Australian residents only consume 0.1 per cent of solar in energy consumption. Solar could be the energy solution of the future; powering modern day residences and cities.
In A Homeowner’s Guide to Solar Energy, the basics of solar energy are approached. The basics of solar topics include:
- What is solar power and how does it work?
- Why a homeowner should invest in solar energy?
- What are the first steps to consider when going solar?
What is Solar Power and How Do Solar Panels Work?
Solar power is a method of converting energy from solar radiation into usable electricity. The energy is created through the heat and light of the sun, and the energy is converted into functions like powering a residential home. The solar panel technology collecting sunlight is categorised into two technologies: Concentrated solar power (CSP) and Solar photovoltaic (PV).
Concentrated solar power (CSP) utilises large sun-tracking mirrors called heliostats to concentrate solar rays towards a central point. Heliostats concentrate sunlight towards high-functioning solar cells found at the top of a central tower usually in the middle of a large solar field. CSP is a less common solar energy collection method for residential homeowners, and it is rather used to generate electricity for large-scale power plants.
Solar photovoltaic (PV) is the process and technology converting sunlight into useable energy. The PV method uses photovoltaic (PV) cells manufactured into long and flat panels and placed on rooftops, or integrated into building designs to capture sunlight. The modern solar cell is a common sight among residents; being found on a home or a solar calculator.
However, the energy collected from a homeowner’s roof is not ready for immediately use. To begin, photovoltaic cells convert sunlight into direct current electricity (DC). Then, an inverter is installed to convert collected DC electricity into alternating current electricity (AC).
Finally, the AC energy is consumed by homeowners to power home appliances, or to fed excess energy into the power grid for other residents. The PV method is the most common among residential homeowners wishing to integrate solar panels onto a home.
Solar technology jargon is overwhelming. Other important vocabulary to know and aid the solar buying process are solar panels, solar inverters, solar batteries, and digital meters. Learn these term definitions on the FAQ page.
Why Should a Homeowner Invest in Solar?
A homeowner’s motivation to invest in solar depends on the personal and lifestyle goals of the individual. Homeowner motivation is driven by several needs and priorities.
At Sola, we approach Australia solar energy customers with a personalised experience in order to better understand priorities and expectations of the customer before solar installation. Contact us to learn more. However, for the purpose of the guide, there are three top motivators of Australian homeowners seeking a change to solar electricity. Australian homeowners wish to upgrade to solar energy because of the following reasons.
- They wish to save money and reduce costs on their home utilities.
- They look to increase the home value for future resale.
- They seek to reduce their carbon footprint and protect the environment.
Number One: Save Money and Reduce Costs
High electricity utility costs are a common reality for homeowners. High costs cut into the overall household savings, and they elevate monthly expenses.
What would you buy with your utility savings, if you were not paying large electricity bills every month?
Homeowners should contemplate this question to better understand how solar energy can save them money in the long run. Despite being a initial capital investment, solar energy saves homeowners money due to ‘locking in’ the current electricity rate upon installation and protecting against future increases in electricity costs.
Australian electricity prices are rising according to the Grattan Institute where they estimated the wholesale electricity prices rose across Australia’s eastern and south-eastern coast by 130 percent average between 2015 and 2017.
Electricity will become more costly as the years pass. By investing in solar, a homeowner saves money on the difference between current and future utility expenses by locking in a set price over the lifespan of their solar panels. With solar panel technology becoming more robust and averaging at a twenty-five-year lifespan, a homeowner can potentially establish the price of their energy for the next twenty-five years.
Furthermore, the costs of solar are reducing. Because of increasing solar popularity, the market has become more competitive; dropping the overall price of individual solar panels. They could now be in your price range.
Australia’s International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA) indicates the average total cost of a solar PV system in Australia dropped 50 percent from 2013 to 2014.
With the introduction of net metering and feed-in tariff (FIT) schemes, homeowners can now reduce costs, save money and also earn an income from installed solar technology.
Net metering and FIT enables homeowners to sell off excess energy produced by solar cells, or receive bill credits, during the intervals where they produce more electricity than they consume.
By means of net metering and FIT, a homeowner’s investment in solar provides added benefits over traditional utility cost savings. What are the solar financing options available to homeowners? Learn more on the Sola FAQ page.
How much will I save with Solar?
Solar provides several cost-saving opportunities, and at Sola, we provide the opportunity to establish a reasonable estimate of the total cost savings for an Australia solar energy home through a personal consultation. The amount a homeowner saves depends on individual electricity usage, house location, and current electricity provider expenses.
It is estimated an Australian household uses around 6000 kW of electricity per year. In a geographical location like Bondi Junction, a solar panel system could be saving a homeowner on average around $700 a year.
What are Australian solar panel rebates?
Lastly, a residential switch to solar is financially supported by the Australian government. Depending on the Australian state, a homeowner is eligible for a variety of solar power rebates and solar energy schemes.
For example, the state of Victoria offers the Victorian Solar Homes rebate claimable by the homeowner up to $2,225 of the cost of buying and installing a solar PV system. The rebate comes with eligibility requirements. These requirements can be viewed on the Solar Victoria website.
Additional rebates and certificates exist depending on the homeowner’s location or use of solar technology. Various states (like Queensland and Victoria) offer Feed-in Tariff and Small-scale Technology Certificates (STCs) to help reduce the cost of solar and provide a return on investment.
Number Two: Increase of Home Value
An added benefit to going solar, Australia solar energy homeowners benefit from an increase in the overall value of the home. Studies have found that solar-equipped homes increase in home value and undergo quicker selling cycles than non-solar homes.
Solar equipped homes are projected to sell for 17 percent more than similar homes without solar - and 20 percent faster than an equivalent non-solar home.
The value of solar-powered homes is expected to increase with the continued public education of solar benefits. Solar panels provide a competitive edge over similar homes (without solar) in a residential district and increases the overall home value.
A recent Australian survey indicated that out of the 1,005 Australians surveyed by a solar company in 2018, 77 percent of Australians believed a home with solar was more valuable than a home relying on traditional energy sources.
An Australia solar energy homeowner may see it as a responsibility to achieve a return on home investment and to ensure the value of the home increasing over time. Solar installation brings added benefits of cost savings and increased home value; providing a strong financial boost at time of sale.
Number Three: Reduce carbon footprint and protect the environment
A homeowner is most likely motivated by the reduction of electricity costs and money-saving benefits of solar electricity. However, solar power also has the additional advantage of being a clean green energy source with wide-ranging contributions to the planet.
Solar power is a respectable way to reduce carbon footprint and protect Mother Earth. An Australia solar energy system is a clean source of energy, and offsets traditional systems of electricity consumption in power grid homes.
On average, a residential solar panel system eliminates three to four tons of carbon emissions every year. This is equivalent to planting over one hundred trees annually.
Generating electricity from solar panels produces no greenhouse gases. On mainland Australia, the use of solar panels can offset anywhere between a half and one tonne of carbon dioxide to every megawatt hour of solar energy consumed.
Cleaner air and water are additional environmental benefits to solar power. Traditional electricity production in power plants consume thousands of litres of water every year. Water is regularly used in the cooling and processing of fuel and transporting that fuel to local residences.
Water is a scarcity in Australia and precious. Solar cells require no water to operate and to generate electricity, so it does not reduce a precious resource like water. Furthermore, traditional electricity creation from fossil fuels generates large amounts of carbon dioxide and methane gases resulting in poor air quality. Overall, a switch to a solar energised home can reduce the carbon footprint and protect the environment.
So You Want to Go with Solar Energy
The benefits of solar energy are numerous. By installing solar panels on a residential home, an Australia solar energy homeowner can enjoy extra monthly savings in their pocket (which otherwise would have been given to a utility company), benefit from an increased home value and partner on contributing to a cleaner environment.
Solar energy is a positive investment for the Australian homeowner. So you want to go with solar energy. To start correctly, a homeowner needs to know and consider three important points. Now, we enter the nitty-gritty part of understanding the required elements of buying the right type of solar panels, panel installation, and individual solar benefits for a home.
As a next step, consider these three things before the installation process of solar panels begins.
Know the roof. To establish a correct and thorough solar panel quote, a homeowner needs to know the specific angle and configuration of their roof type. Solar panels are set on a predetermined angle.
To know the angle, understand the area of the solar panel placement. Is the roof flat or does it have a steep pitch in an area? What parts of the roof are longest in the sun? At what angle is the sun hitting the roof?
If these questions are answered, a homeowner can better choose the right panels and placement. For example, they can tilt towards the best angle at the sun, soak the most sunlight and generate the largest amount of electricity.
How is the quality of the roof? Solar panels are a financial investment, and the roof needs to be in excellent condition before installation. Removing and reinstalling panels for a roof repair or replacement can be challenging and costly. It is best to consider a top-notch roof before solar panels are installed.
Calculate the current electricity usage. How much electricity does the homeowner currently use? By better understanding the patterns of energy use, a more accurate comparison of solar systems can be done and the best option chosen. For example, a homeowner might contemplate between a grid-connected system or a battery-backup system.
Visualise a budget. Many different factors increase or decrease the cost of the overall solar system. Consider your geographical location, the size and number of solar panels, roof access, height, material, and type of panels (traditional, roof-mounted or ground-mounted panels) to determine the best possible solar panel estimate.
Australia solar energy is the future of clean and prosperous energy in our country. By investing in solar power, the Australian homeowner can reduce costs, elevate their home value, and contribute to a positive environmental impact.