If you’re thinking of installing solar panels to your home, chances are you’ll come across solar feed-in tariffs in your research. This article explains what these tariffs are, how they differ across Australia’s states and territories and how they can put money back into your pocket.
A solar feed-in tariff is the amount of money per kilowatt hour (kWh) you earn from putting solar energy back into the electricity grid. These rates vary based on the solar system you have, which state or territory you live in and your energy retailer.
There are two types of solar feed-in tariffs you need to be aware of:
Each tariff works slightly differently, but both pay you for the electricity your renewable energy system – such as photovoltaic (PV) solar panels or solar thermals – puts back into the grid.
Gross feed-in tariffs
If you’re on a gross feed-in tariff, your energy provider (retailer) credits you for all the solar energy your system generates and put back into the grid but charges you separately for the electricity you use. These solar feed-in tariffs are most common in the Northern Territory and Australian Capital Territory.
Residents across New South Wales have the choice between gross feed-in tariffs or net feed-in tariffs although there are eligibility requirements that may limit which type you are offered.
Net feed-in tariffs
Unlike gross feed-in tariffs, net feed-in tariffs only credit you for the solar energy you produce once your household or business has used the electricity it needs. Note if your system does not generate enough to power your home or business, your provider will still charge you for the additional electricity you use. Net feed-in tariffs are used in New South Wales, Queensland, Victoria and Tasmania.
It’s not easy to detail the best solar feed-in tariff available because they vary between retailers, states and your personal circumstances. Always compare your options before deciding, so you choose a tariff that’s right for you.
Keep in mind that retailers may offer you the minimum government feed-in rate or they can also offer you higher feed-in rates. If they offer a higher solar feed-in rate, check whether they charge you more for the electricity you use. Consider the following when choosing a suitable solar feed-in tariff for you:
Solar feed-in tariffs in NSW are measured by the kWh, but the rate paid varies between electricity providers.1 The Independent Pricing and Regulatory Tribunal (IPART) in NSW sets a benchmark rate to guide retailers, but they’re still free to set their own prices.
For the 2020/21 financial year, the benchmark rate is 6.0 to 7.3 cents per kWh.1
Solar feed-in tariffs in Victoria fall under the state’s general renewable energy feed-in tariff (FiT) scheme. The Essential Services Commission, which is Victoria’s independent energy regulator, sets the rates.2 There are currently two tariffs available in Victoria: the minimum single-rate and time-varying.
All providers must offer at least the minimum single-rate tariff,3 which is 10.2 cents per kWh for the 2020/21 financial year.2 Retailers can also provide time-varying tariffs, which pays different amounts for the time of day that electricity is sent to the grid. These prices are set to:
There are two main solar feed-in tariffs in QLD, and which one you’re eligible for depends on where in the state you live.
Market feed-in tariffs are only available in South East Queensland, where retailers can set and offer their own rates.4 Due to competition in this part of Queensland, it’s important to compare your options to find the best solar feed-in tariff for your needs.
For those in regional Queensland, you may be able to access flat rate solar tariffs through Origin Energy or Ergon Energy.5 This rate is set by the Queensland Competition Authority and is 7.86 cents per kWh for the 2020/21 financial year.
Feed-in tariffs in the ACT haven’t been regulated since 2011, meaning retailers can set their own solar feed-in tariff rates.6 For this reason, it’s essential you compare your options, as prices can vary between retailers.
Solar feed-in tariffs in SA are different from other states and vary based on when your PV solar system was installed. Everyone in the state with eligible systems can take advantage of retailer feed-in tariffs, where retailers set their own prices, and you can select one that best suits you.7
If your system was connected to the grid before 30 September 2011, you can apply for the distributor feed-in tariff. This fee is set at 44 cents per kWh and will remain until 2028 – unless you upgrade or amend your solar system or you move house.
There were significant changes to feed-in tariffs in the Northern Territory in 2020, meaning those who signed up for solar power before April 2020 can be on different tariffs to newer customers.8 New customers will receive a standard feed-in tariff of 8.3 cents per kWh, while existing customers can remain on the premium rate of 23.68 cents per kWh.9
If you’re in Western Australia and export electricity to the grid, you may be eligible for the Distributed Energy Buyback Scheme. From November 2020, you can receive 10 cents per kWh for electricity sent to the grid between 3pm and 9pm, or three cents per kWH for all other times of the day.10
This scheme is not to be confused with the Renewable Energy Buyback Scheme, which was discontinued in 2020.
Feed-in tariffs in Tasmania are regulated by the Office of Tasmania’s Economic Regulator, who set a minimum rate that retailers must pay you for the electricity you send to the grid.11 As of 2020/21, this rate is 8.471 cents per kWH.12
No. You must install a solar PV system before you can apply for a solar feed-in tariff. Also remember that you won’t automatically receive a feed-in tariff when your solar PV is installed. You’ll need to contact electricity providers for their eligibility requirements and the offers available.
Depending on how much energy you send back to the grid, solar feed-in tariffs can have several benefits, including:
The easiest way to check which feed-in tariff you’re on is to check your bill or directly contact your electricity retailer. Because prices can vary between electricity retailers, it’s important to know which feed-in tariff you’re on – especially in states or territories that offer competitive markets.
Tariffs and rebates aren’t the same thing when it comes to energy. A solar feed-in tariff is the rate you’re paid per kilowatt-hour of electricity your solar system exports to the grid. A solar rebate, on the other hand, usually refers to a government initiative to help you pay for rooftop solar installation.
In most cases, you can save money by using solar power, but there’s no guarantee. While solar power can potentially save you money, the exact figure will depend on a variety of factors. These include: