What Western Australian Households Should Know about the Solar Buyback Scheme
There’s more good news for people who may be planning to install solar for their home. A year ago, new feed-in tariff rates were confirmed for solar installations back in August. However, not everyone is entitled to the rebate under the scheme. Only those who have newly installed solar will benefit from the Distributed Energy Buyback Scheme or DEBS.
DEBS vs REBS
Aside from DEBS and small-scale technology certificates (STCs), there is one more scheme that has been active in Western Australia for many years now. In Perth and the rest of the southwest region of the state, Synergy is the electricity provider. Households that have a solar system installed, receive a feed-in tariff of 7.135 cents for every kilowatt-hour they export to the mains grid. This rebate is under the Renewable Energy Buyback Scheme or REBS.
Meanwhile, the newer feed-in tariff rates under DEBS, which commenced on the 6th of November 2020, can be summed up in two points:
- Electricity given back to the mains grid would earn 10 cents per kilowatt-hour only if they were exported from 3 PM to 9 PM.
- For electricity exported at times other than the one mentioned above, it will earn three cents per kilowatt-hour.
The jump from seven to ten cents is a great incentive to have solar installed. However, many residents are not happy with the decreased rate, which will only be three cents outside 3 PM to 9 PM. It is indeed quite a reduction, but it still is worth getting solar, especially for those in Western Australia.
People who are in regional areas use Horizon Power. The feed-in tariffs are around 7.14 cents to over 51 cents for every kilowatt-hour they send back to the mains grid. This rebate is still under REBS, but the rates will depend on the location. Also, REBS has limited the scope of the rebate to only those with solar power systems that have inverters with five kilowatts capacity at the most. Another thing to remember is that the scheme only includes areas where the maximum allowed rooftop solar export values had not been installed yet.
With DEBS, those customers who use Horizon Power will enjoy the same rebate as those in Perth and the southwest region. The electricity provider, however, did mention that customers in towns where generation costs are higher will enjoy an even larger corresponding buyback rate.
These changes do not affect REBS customers, but they can opt to switch to DEBS. According to the McGowan Government, there are a few requirements to be eligible for this scheme, which include:
- Installing a battery (which is not allowed for REBS customers)
- Upgrading the current solar panel system
The goal of the DEBS scheme is to incentivise those solar households that give energy back to the grid during peak times. Ten years ago, there was almost no residential property with a solar system installed. Fast forward to the current times, more than 300,000 households have rooftop solar, which is equivalent to one in three homes with over 1,200 megawatts generation capacity.
These numbers are only on the South West Interconnected System, which means that solar is truly thriving in the state. But no one is sending back power, particularly during peak times.
Is It Time to Invest in Batteries?
Under the changes, DEBS customers will only be paid three cents per kilowatt-hour during the rest of the day versus 10 cents per kilowatt-hour when electricity use is at its peak. It’s an encouragement to purchase batteries or upgrade the system. Using batteries will help provide the stabilisation required for the system.
The inverter capacity should be of greater capacity than the existing solar panel capacity. Therefore, the homeowner will be obliged to add more panels.
The feed-in tariff is bound to be lost if the installers use the application to connect based on the panel array size. To avoid this issue, the application should be focused on the size of the inverter and not the panel. This way, the customer will be allowed to add more solar panels to the system up to the size of the inverter in kilowatts.
However, the installer should apply to the energy retailer and gain approval before working on the installation. It helps avoid breaching of contract with the customer’s retailer.
Get a bigger inverter and add more solar panels.
This method is an upgrade, but it does cancel the existing feed-in tariff of the customer and will only be placed on the 7.135c per kWh rebate.
Add a second solar system.
This other way to upgrade the system also cancels the FiT. The same rate will be applied, as mentioned above.
The new DEBS rates are for encouraging homeowners to utilise their solar energy for generating power in the middle of the day. During this time, the sun is up and reliable, giving plenty of solar power to households. The scheme also motivates people to install more west-facing panels, which allow the generation of electricity later in the day. As a result, more renewable energy will be produced, particularly when the demand is high.
The Government believes that the changes will enable the grid to be greener, as it integrates more renewable energy into its entire system. At the same time, consumers can benefit from a more reliable and secure energy source in the future.
Easy Solar can help guide you through this process, finding the best solar for you home and budget. Get in touch today.