The hottest and sunniest continent in the world has something to celebrate. More and more Australians are installing solar power systems, mostly on the rooftop of their homes, driven partly by the rising cost of conventional power and partly because solar power systems bring multiple benefits like easy implementation and substantial environmental savings. Besides, the cost of renewable energy such as solar panel also has decreased yearly.
Prices dropping steadily
In the last few years, the Australian solar market, prices have been dropping significantly since 2012. As of 2017, the average cost of a residential solar installation, is at least 25 to 30% less, compared to the prices that prevailed during 2012. Regarding price per watt, the drop has been about $0.60 watt or $1.67 from roughly $2.30 in 2012. Let us also not forget that the prices that prevailed in August 2012 were already dramatically lower than what obtained in 2010. Alongside dropping prices, customer preferences have also seen a quantum shift from 1.5kW systems to 4 of 5kW systems where the prices have dropped by almost 51%.
Conventional power prices can only go up
The cost of energy from conventional sources, particularly the fossil fuel based power can only keep going up. Ageing infrastructure and increasing cost of production can only be adding more to the pressures on viability/profitability for the power producers. Most of these producers employ a significantly large number of people, and once they are compelled to start paying higher wages when the profits are heading south, the end consumer will always bear the brunt. This has been happening world over, and Australia can be no exception. However, in nations like Australia, the Sun God is more benevolent, and the very heat that at least some of us were complaining of comes as a blessing to keep us cool for ages at a fraction of the cost we were paying the utility companies. The proliferation of solar energy has perhaps come at the right time since the world is also sitting up to take stock of environmental impact from fossil fuels.
How a 5kW solar power system economics work
A typical 5kW solar power system will need about 400 square feet on your rooftop with the ability to align the panels south facing in most locations. The optimal output from the system is 5kW or 5000 watts of DC power. This translates to anywhere between 350 and 850 kWh of AC power per month on the assumption that your rooftop gets a minimum of 5 hours of a solar array. These performance parameters are indicative and can, at times, vary significantly depending on your location
Typically, homeowners would also want to factor in the cost of storage batteries since that would give the advantage of using solar power during night hours and daylight hours when the solar rays may not be hot enough to produce optimal output from the panels. How much money each household invests into storage systems would very active depending on a host of factors. Some of these factors include load profiles, optimising for peak demand versus energy capacity etc. Broadly, your storage solution can cost as much as the solar panels or perhaps even more if you are considering the ‘Powerwall’ offered by Tesla, USA.
Indicatively, we can say that the payback period for a 5 kW stand-alone solar system is about 5 years while with the storage system included, the payback period can scale up to 10 years. Considering that most systems have a life of 25 years or more, returns on your investment are considered decent, particularly with the ever-increasing cost of conventional power.
In understanding these economic indicators, let us also remember that in Australia, most forms of government assistance have vanished effective January 1, 2017, though the overall impact is minimal. However, the excess power produced by you can be fed back into the grid subject to conditions laid down by various utility providers and the respective states who will pay for it as per rates established for your area/service company.
Solar power systems can be implemented without hassles
Easy to install
A major advantage of solar power systems is the ease of installation. Since most domestic systems are installed on rooftops, there is little or no interference with what goes on inside the house. Once the installation is completed, the homeowner will have minimal clean-up required and in most situations, it takes between 72 and 96 hours for the full installation.
Significant environmental savings
Solar power comes with zero emission, and therefore, homeowners opting for solar power will be contributing to a reduction of about 1 tonne of Carbon dioxide for every 1mWh of solar power installed. Consequently, homeowners will be making a significant contribution towards Australia’s efforts in addressing Climate change issues and reducing the overall carbon footprint.
Heat from the sun rays is greater than light
Your solar panels convert the heat from the sun rays and not the light. Therefore, you may need to consider this aspect, depending on the location of your home.
Another significant advantage for homeowners opting for solar power systems is the definite value addition to their homes.
Despite the fact that Australia boasts of being a Sunny nation, solar energy may not be viable in all states and some homes even in states they are indeed viable because of other limitations such as obstruction to sunlight from neighbourhood tree branches, high rise buildings etc. Your solar panels may also need to face a particular direction for optimal performance, and you may want to determine the appropriateness of your rooftop before taking a call.