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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.

What is a solar feed-in tariff?

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.

How does a solar feed-in tariff work?

There are two types of solar feed-in tariffs you need to be aware of:

  • gross feed-in tariffs
  • net feed-in tariffs.

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.

Dad talking to sons about solar feed-in tariffs

What’s the best solar feed-in tariff?

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:

  • What is the solar feed-in tariff rate on offer?
  • How much will I be charged for electricity?
  • How much are the daily supply charges?
  • Are there any other discounts or fees on offer?

Solar feed-in tariff rates by state

Each state and territory have different solar feed-in tariff rates and rules relating to these tariffs. This means that the amount of money you receive can vary based on where you live and whether competition is available.

Please note: The solar feed-in tariff prices referenced are based on figures from the 2020/21 financial year and may be subject to change.

New South Wales

Sydney Harbour Bridge

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

Victoria

Melbourne City

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:

  •  9.1 cents per kWh for off-peak times (between 10pm and 7pm)
  • 9.8 cents per kWh for shoulder times (between 7am and 3pm and 9pm to 10pm weeknights and 7am to 10pm on weekends)
  •  12.5 cents per kWh for peak times (between 3pm and 9pm on weekdays)
Source: Victorian State Government – ‘What are the feed-in tariff rates for 2020-21?’ – Accessed 21/10/2020
Queensland

gold coast beach

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.

Australian Capital Territory

Canberra

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.

South Australia

adelaide at night

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.

Northern Territory

darwin waterfront

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

Western Australia

Perth CBD

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.

Tasmania

Hobart harbour

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

Frequently asked questions

Can I apply for a solar feed-in tariff before installing a solar PV?

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.

What are the benefits of solar feed-in tariffs?

Depending on how much energy you send back to the grid, solar feed-in tariffs can have several benefits, including:

  • Helping the environment by reducing greenhouse gas emissions
  • Reducing electricity bills
  • Being paid for the extra energy you send back to the grid
Where can I view which feed-in tariff I’m on?

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.

Are tariffs and solar rebates the same?

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.

Will I always save money by using solar power?

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:

  • Whether you’re on a gross or net feed-in tariff
  • How big your solar system is
  • How much exposure to the sun your solar system has throughout the day, as feed-in tariffs may also vary on time of day
  • The amount of electricity you use and when you use it (e.g. maximising your solar energy usage during the day and minimising your usage during evenings and nights)

Compare energy with us

If you’re looking for an energy quote or want to see some of the options available in Australia, we’re here to help. Our free energy comparison service allows you to compare both electricity and gas from a range of providers in one place – in minutes.

What’s more, if you find an option you like, your plan will cost are the same as going direct to the retailer. So, what are you waiting for?

Sources
  1. New South Wales Government – ‘Feed-in tariff rates’ – Accessed 21/10/2020
  2. Victoria State Government – ‘Minimum feed-in tariff’ – Accessed 21/10/2020
  3. Essential Services Commission – ‘Minimum feed-in tariff’ – Accessed 21/10/2020
  4. Queensland Government – ‘Market feed-in tariffs in South East Queensland’ – Accessed 21/10/2020
  5. Queensland Government – ‘Solar feed-in tariff for regional Queensland’ – Accessed 21/10/2020
  6. ACT Government Environment, Planning and Sustainable Development Directorate – ‘Rooftop solar’ – Accessed 21/10/2020
  7. Government of South Australia – ‘Solar feed-in payments’ – Accessed 21/10/2020
  8. Northern Territory Government – ‘Changes to Feed in Tariffs’ – Accessed 21/10/2020
  9. Jacana Energy – ‘Renewable energy’ – Accessed 21/10/2020
  10. Government of Western Australia – ‘Energy Buyback Schemes’ – Accessed 21/10/2020
  11. Australian Energy Regulator – ‘Tasmania – How to get value for your solar PV system and feed-in tariffs explained’ – Accessed 21/10/2020
  12. Office of Tasmania’s Economic Regulator – ‘Feed-in tariffs’ – Accessed 21/10/2020

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