Friday, June 11, 2010

To solar panel or not to solar panel

I've often wondered if solar panels are worth the investment. I am keen to be green but is the outlay really worth it? According to consumer association CHOICE if you buy a solar panel you could be waiting a long time for your investment to pay off.

The Alternative Technology Association calculated approximate "payback times" for a 1.5kW solar system in each state. The verdict is anything from five to 45 years, depending on where you live.

"Several companies advertise payback times of two to three years for small systems but such claims are misleading as they ignore a number of potential costs and changes," CHOICE spokesman Brad Schmitt says. "For example, no allowance is made for the decline of a panel's output over time or the likely need that at some stage key equipment such as the system's inverter will need replacing."

CHOICE found NSW and the ACT have the shortest pay-back times (5-6 years), largely due to a "gross" feed-in tariff incentive where households are paid for all the electricity their panels produce, irrespective of their domestic power consumption. In the other states and territories, "net" feed-in tariffs apply where you're only paid for surplus electricity fed into the grid after domestic use is subtracted.

Under the Federal Government's Solar Credits Scheme, eligible households also receive rebates for Renewable Energy Certificates."On the basis households are currently paid five times the REC market price, you can receive as much as $6500 in sunny locations such as Adelaide, Brisbane and Sydney or around $5460 in Hobart and Melbourne," Brad says.

"When you add that to the less generous tariff system that applies outside NSW and the ACT, the payback time for Tasmania is estimated to be as long as 45 years."

If you already have solar panels share what you think of them. If you don't, does this report change your mind at all?

1 comment:

  1. If you'd to ask me, having a solar panel installed is better than just leaving it and letting our electricity bill grow larger every month.. I don't know bout you guys, but if we would weigh the advantages over the disadvantages, the advantages are more powerful that its negative effects..