As more and more Australians seek a ‘tree change’, increasingly the blocks of land available for purchase are away from existing power infrastructures. Connecting to the grid in these situations is normally prohibitively expensive and a much cheaper, more environmentally sensitive, and more satisfying way of bringing power to the site is by harnessing the sun’s rays to collect and store your own power.
The Federal Solar Credits Scheme (Solar Credits) assist with the upfront costs of installing small-scale renewable energy systems, including household solar photovoltaic (PV) systems. Solar Credits, which is part of the expanded national Renewable Energy Target (RET) scheme, will provide extra Renewable Energy Certificates, which are also called RECs, to households and businesses that install eligible small scale solar PV, wind and hydro electricity systems.
With recent changes to the Renewable Energy Regulations there are now provisions to increase the kilowatt (kW) capacity limit for which the Solar Credits multiplier applies in relation to off-grid small generation unit installations up to the first 20 kW of a system capacity subject to an annual cap in the total number of certificates.
Under the new amendments small generation units are eligible for Solar Credit RECs up to the first 20 kW of system capacity if:
- The system is an off-grid small generation unit (as defined below); and
- Was installed after 28 June 2010 and before 1 July 2015; and
- Must be eligible for solar credits.
- RECs are created before the annual financial year cap is met for installations which occur in that financial year.
Where these requirements are met the effect of the regulations is that the current solar credits multiplier (e.g. 5 for small generation units installed before 30 June 2012) applies to the first 20kW of system capacity rather than only the first 1.5kW. When the annual cap is reached for each year the standard 1.5kW system capacity for Solar Credits will apply.
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Siting your Solar
With a stand-alone system it is imperative to have the panels facing as close to true North as possible. However , they don’t have to be on the roof of your home – they can be on a shed, in a ground array, on a carport etc. For instance, many home owners on ‘bush blocks’ prefer their homes to be surrounded by trees and mount their solar array elsewhere on the property.
Even on cloudy days you will be surprised at how much charge is going in to your battery bank – All daylight provides some charge into your PV panels. The more direct sunlight, the more power you will generate. However, realistically, you will need a generator as a backup power source – particularly in high rainfall areas. We recommend a backup generator for security in extended periods of bad weather, or for running high energy requirement power tools or appliances.
Check with your installer that your system is designed to operate at the power output you have indicated you require/desire for five full days with no charge all.
The batteries for your rural solar system should come with either a 3 or 5 year warranty (dependent on Manufacturer). Routine maintenance for your solar system includes checking distilled water levels in the batteries (specific gravity) once a month, tightening all terminals twice a year. Well maintained batteries should last at least ten years.