Western Australian Households: 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.

The Solar Buyback Scheme is an important initiative in Western Australia that allows households with solar PV systems to sell excess electricity generated back to the grid. Understanding the scheme is crucial for households looking to maximize the benefits of their solar energy systems.

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.

solar panels on roof rebate perth

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.

However, homeowners also have a choice to upgrade their solar system, for example, from a 3.5kW capacity to a 6.6kW package. The upgrade can be performed in many ways, including:

  • 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.

Key points to know about the Solar Buyback Scheme

Here are key points to know about the Solar Buyback Scheme:

What is the Solar Buyback Scheme?

The Solar Buyback Scheme, also known as the Feed-in Tariff (FiT), enables households with solar PV systems to receive a financial credit for the excess electricity they export to the grid. This encourages the adoption of solar energy and promotes renewable energy generation.

How does the Solar Buyback Scheme work?

Under the scheme, when a solar PV system generates more electricity than is consumed in the household, the excess energy is exported to the grid. The electricity retailer then purchases this surplus electricity at a specified rate, which is referred to as the feed-in tariff rate. The credit received for the exported electricity appears on the electricity bill.

What is the feed-in tariff rate?

The feed-in tariff rate is the price per kilowatt-hour (kWh) that households receive for the excess electricity they export to the grid. The rate varies depending on the electricity retailer and the specific plan chosen. It is important for households to compare feed-in tariff rates when selecting an electricity retailer to ensure they receive a fair return for their exported electricity.

How is the feed-in tariff rate determined?

The feed-in tariff rate is set by the state government’s energy regulatory authority, taking into account factors such as the cost of electricity generation, network infrastructure, and the market value of renewable energy. The rate is reviewed periodically and may change over time.

Are all households eligible for the Solar Buyback Scheme?

Most households with solar PV systems in Western Australia are eligible for the Solar Buyback Scheme. However, eligibility criteria, such as system size and installation requirements, may vary depending on the electricity retailer and the specific plan chosen. It is important for households to check with their retailer to ensure their eligibility.

How can households benefit from the Solar Buyback Scheme?

The Solar Buyback Scheme offers several benefits to households:

  • Reduced electricity bills: By exporting excess electricity and receiving a credit for it, households can reduce their overall electricity costs.
  • Return on investment: The scheme helps households maximize the return on their solar PV system investment by monetizing the surplus energy generated.
  • Environmental impact: By participating in the scheme, households contribute to a cleaner energy future by reducing reliance on fossil fuels and lowering carbon emissions.

Can households switch electricity retailers and still participate in the scheme?

Yes, households can switch electricity retailers and still participate in the Solar Buyback Scheme. However, it is crucial to compare feed-in tariff rates, contract terms, and any associated fees or conditions before making a switch. Some retailers may offer more favorable terms or incentives for solar PV system owners.

How can households maximize their benefits under the Solar Buyback Scheme?

To make the most of the Solar Buyback Scheme, households can consider the following:

  • Optimal system sizing: Ensuring that the solar PV system is appropriately sized to match the household’s electricity consumption patterns can help maximize self-consumption and minimize excess energy export.
  • Energy-efficient practices: Implementing energy-efficient habits and appliances within the household can help reduce overall electricity consumption, making the most of the self-generated solar energy.
  • Time-of-use plans: Exploring time-of-use electricity plans can allow households to align their energy usage with peak solar production periods, optimizing their self-consumption and reducing reliance on grid electricity.

Conclusion

The Solar Buyback Scheme in Western Australia offers significant benefits for households considering solar panel installations. By participating in the scheme, homeowners can not only reduce their electricity bills but also earn credits by selling excess solar energy back to the grid.

It is important for Western Australian households to understand the eligibility criteria, tariff rates, and contractual obligations associated with the scheme. Additionally, considering factors such as system size, electricity usage, and the payback period will help homeowners make informed decisions about installing solar panels and maximizing their financial gains through the Solar Buyback Scheme.

Easy Solar can help guide you through this process, finding the best solar for you home and budget. Get in touch today.