Queensland Government considers changing solar tariffs
However, according to CBD Energy, this independence could be under threat if the Queensland Competition Authority endorses a government preference for the current gross feed-in regime, in which those producing solar energy are forced to sell all their output to the grid at 8 cents per kWh and then buy it back at 20-30 cents per kWh.
CBD Solar manager, Jeff Bye, says the move would be analogous to forcing residents to pay to water their lawns using their own rainwater tanks – the government just wants to get electricity on the cheap.
On 9 July this year, the Queensland government reduced the gross feed-in tariff from 44 cents a kWh to 8 cents, irrespective of the time of day the electricity is produced, with the sale providing a rebate on future power bills.
However, these bills are subject to what is happening nationally, where more than half the cost of rising electricity bills is due to network and distribution costs through poles and wires.
Based on Treasury estimates, some 51 per cent of the cost of electricity is from network and distribution costs, 20 per cent from actual power cost, 15 per cent from account management, 9 per cent from the carbon price and 5 per cent from government costs.
While Australia ranks 11th in the world on a per capita use of solar energy , it could be moving up the ranks as households in 2011 installed more rooftop solar than in Germany, the world’s solar leader.
In Queensland, there has been an 84 per cent increase in installed solar capacity over the year from 2010-11 to 2011-12, with a total 505MW now installed in the state.
According to Jeff Bye, more people were looking for answers around how to “ditch the grid” entirely so that they could have freedom of choice about how to power their homes and not be captive to the grid.
“Improvements in technology, being driven by the auto industry, are leading to more efficient and effective battery storage which works well with what can be intermittent production of electricity from solar power,” Mr Bye said.
Solar energy in Australia now costs between 5 and 7 cents a kilowatt hour to produce, with this level applicable over the lifetime of a solar system of around 25 years.
Contrary to the direction of electricity prices, the cost of batteries and solar panels is decreasing, as new technology and lower materials cost is leading to cheaper and more effective energy solutions.
Mr Bye said the combination of rooftop solar and battery back up should mean only a minimal network access charge if needed and with this system paying for itself in around five years, there was free electricity from then on and also freedom from the tyranny of the grid.
With Queensland headquarters at Stapylton, CBD Energy has operations in wind, solar, and energy efficiency, with domestic and commercial solar installations nationally as well as in Asia, Europe and the United States.