2020 was a big year for solar panel installation in Australia. The Clean Energy Regulator shows over 2.6 million Aussie homes have solar panels.
Australia’s ample sunshine is a great renewable energy resource, it makes sense to capture this energy with a solar system, so what’s involved in getting your system up and running?
Purchase and installation
Your first step is deciding what solar system is suitable for you. To decide, you’ll need to understand your power needs, budget and whether you want to install a battery system alongside. The two systems work together to generate and store power so you can use it when needed. The NSW government implemented an interest-free loan scheme to encourage people to install batteries. Currently, the NSW government is offering up to $14,000 as an interest-free loan to install a solar battery system or up to $9,000 for a battery retrofit system.
While talking about government subsidies, this NSW government website has information on solar panels, batteries and rebate schemes available in the state.
When you have selected the system, the next step is to have it installed. This must be done by either a licenced builder or licenced electrical contractor. You can search for an installer by visiting the Clean Energy Council website.
The placing your solar panels play an essential role in the efficiency of the system. You’ll want them installed on a section of the roof that will capture the most amount of sun with the least amount of shadow being cast on them. On top of this, the angle they are put at also influences how much power is generated.
Connecting into the grid
Before you have the system installed, discuss the application process with your installer, as it will need to be approved to connect to the grid. At the start of the application process, you’ll need to decide which connection is right for you based on the size of the generation system. There are three options, micro-generation systems up to 30 kilowatts (kW), small to medium (30kW to 5 megawatts (MW)) and embedded generators (5MW and greater).
There are two requirements for an application to be successful. You must be an existing customer and live in an area zoned urban by your council. You can apply online if your electricity demand is no greater than 100 amperes 230 volts (single-phase) or 63 amperes 400 volts (three-phase). If you meet all requirements when applying online, you’ll be instantly approved.
With this approval, the next step is to register your solar panel system with the Australian Energy Market Operator’s (AEMO) Distributed Energy Register (DER). The installer has 20 days to register your system on DER, which they can do online with the reference number quoted on your Permission to Connect issued by the energy retailer.
Contacting your retailer for meter and tariff change
With your approvals granted and the system registered on DER, the next step is to contact your energy retailer. This final step is needed to install a meter and to allocate an appropriate tariff. The metering installation must comply with the National Electricity Rules and Installation Rules of NSW before the system is turned on.
With these requirements completed, you’ll be able to turn on your system and take advantage of all the benefits of generating renewable power on your rooftop.