27 September 2011 – The Alternative Technology Association’s latest solar payback calculations show a marked increase in the payback time of grid-connect solar power systems in most states.
Payback times are expected to increase to at least 11 years in SA with feed-in tariff changes in October. In WA, the net feed-in tariff of 47 cents per kilowatt hour reached its capacity and was closed to new applications.
In WA the net feed-in tariff of 47 cents per kilowatt hour reached its capacity and was closed to new applications. Electricity retailer Synergy will pay a 7c/kWh hour net feed-in tariff to WA customers under that state’s Renewable Energy Buyback Scheme, yet payback times for new customers will be around 20 years.
Retail price set to drop
While feed-in tariffs are disappearing, the retail price of a solar power system looks set to drop, says ATA energy policy manager Damien Moyse.
“Photovoltaics prices are one of the good news stories with regards to this technology. The history of solar PV prices over 30 years has seen a halving of system price with every doubling of global installed megawatts.
”The word from China, where most panels are currently manufactured, is that global silicon prices are likely to drop again in 2012, meaning that off-the-shelf prices for solar PV systems should again reduce further next year.”
Where’s the potential?
Victoria, Alice Springs and Queensland currently offer feed-in tariffs to new customers in the 45c/kWh to 66c/kWh range with payback times around seven to eight years on a 3kW system, based on only exporting half the electricity produced to the grid.
The last six months show that feed-in tariffs can change overnight. In fact, ATA’s solar payback figures for Victoria include a second, lower feed-in tariff of 23c/kWh, which has been in place for many years now and will hopefully remain in place, despite potential changes to the premium tariff of 60c/kWh.