Solar panels and systems are a great way to add value to your home, and reduce the amount you spend every month on electricity. But solar systems can be expensive to install, which is why it’s important to capitalise on any government incentives that will make them cheaper for you. But what are solar panel incentives, and which are available to you?
Solar panel incentives and rebates are financial reward schemes that return money to people investing in solar panels. Every state has access to two basic solar rebates, the Small-scale Renewable Energy Scheme and the Energy Made Easy scheme, with each state having their own, state-specific rebates and incentives.
With each state having their own unique incentives and rebate plans, it can be difficult to determine the difference between each type, how they work and which you can personally benefit from. Don’t worry, you aren’t the only one in this position.
Luckily, we have put together this complete guide for Australian government solar panel incentives to help you learn the difference and decide on a rebate plan based on how much your solar panels cost, and how much you stand to save.
Table of Contents
What Are The Different Types of Government Solar Panel Incentives?
The two primary government incentives for renewable energy, particularly solar, are the ‘Large-scale Renewable Energy Target’ and the ‘Small-scale Renewable Energy Scheme’ (SRES).
The former is meant for large entities and is an overarching scheme geared towards achieving Australia’s climate change strategies, while the latter encourages the installation of small-scale renewables, usually in the form of solar panels, making cheaper solar systems more available to Australian residents. Australia encourages and expedites the shift to renewable energy such as solar through grants, incentives, rebates, loans, and concessions.
Solar Panel Grants
The Australian government spurs community organisations to utilise solar energy through the provision of grants that range anywhere from $2,500 to $12,500 for the installation of solar panels, batteries, and other similar devices such as solar water systems.
In order to be qualified for the grant, the business should be a non-profit organisation, a legal entity located in eligible regions, and have an Australian Business Number (ABN). Should the business incur costs exceeding $12,500, they will have to shoulder the excess.
Solar Panel Incentives
A financial incentive for individuals and small businesses who install small-scale PV systems is available outside of the SRES, in the form of ‘feed-in tariffs’.
These tariffs were devised to pay individuals for any excess electricity that is generated and fed into the main grid by their small-scale solar system. This is regulated and overseen by State and territory Governments so the exact method, tariff amount, as well as eligibility will vary depending on where the individual or small business is located.
Solar Panel Rebate
The Small-scale Technology Certificate (STC), more commonly known as “the rebate” is a line item discount on a solar panel quote that reduces the final price.
Every kW of solar modules installed on systems under 100kW in size generates STCs. Anyone who purchases eligible PV systems basically sign over STCs to their solar installer, who then trades them into the federal government for cash. In order to be eligible, the PV system should be less than 100kW in size, installed by a Clean Energy Council (CEC) accredited professional, using panels and inverters approved by the CEC.
Solar Panel Loan
The State and Territory Governments offer individuals or businesses loan programs should they decide to install and utilise solar systems.
The loans are generally interest-free, with the specific loan amount and terms varying from state to state. Individuals or small businesses who wish to avail of a renewable energy loan may visit the Department of Industry, Science, Energy and Resources’ website for eligibility, limitations, and other pertinent information.
Solar Panel Concession
In specific States (such as South Australia), it is possible to exchange concessions for solar modules.
Switch for Solar, a program which began in 2021, allows concession holders to have a PV system installed in exchange for foregoing their South Australian Government energy concessions. The eligibility is limited to low-income homeowners who were directly contacted by the Energy Department.
What Government Solar Panel Incentives Are Available to All Australian States?
What is the Small-scale Renewable Energy Scheme?
The Small-scale Renewable Energy Scheme (SRES) creates an incentive for individuals and small businesses to purchase and install eligible small-scale renewable energy systems, such as solar panels. This is achieved through the creation of Small-scale Technology Certificates (STCs).
Although the SRES and the STC are commonly referred to as a “rebate”, it is actually a line item discount on a solar panel quote which effectively reduces the final price.
Every kW of solar modules installed on systems under 100kW in size generates STCs. Individuals who purchase eligible solar systems basically sign over STCs to their solar installer, who then trades them in to the federal government for cash. In order to be eligible, the solar system should be less than 100kW in size, installed by a Clean Energy Council (CEC) accredited professional, using panels and solar inverter brands approved by the CEC. The exact number of STCs created is based on the amount of renewable electricity the system produces or the amount of energy consumption it reduces, as well as the climate region where it was installed.
Renewable Energy Target (RET) liable entities have a legal obligation to purchase and surrender the STCs they acquire to the Clean Energy Regulator on a quarterly basis. Applicants have two options to receive the benefits from their STCs:
- Assign them to an agent – An agent, usually the solar system installer, can have STCs assigned to them in exchange for a discount or delayed cash payment. This option is the most convenient and commonly done, which is why STCs are often placed as line item discounts on quotes.
- Selling the certificates themselves – For this option, individuals can either sell the STCs through the open STCs market with its pricing subjected to market forces, or through the STCs Clearing House with the price fixed at $40 per STC, exclusive of GST.
Who Is Eligible for the Small-scale Renewable Energy Scheme?
Since the SRES is an Australia-wide scheme, practically every Australian citizen is eligible. However, the type of solar panel system to be installed is the one that is subject to eligibility.
The small-scale renewable systems that are eligible for STCs are solar Photovoltaic (PV) panels, wind turbines, hydro systems, solar water heaters, and air source heat pumps.
What Information Do I Need to Apply for the Small-scale Renewable Energy Scheme?
Before deciding to purchase and install a solar panel system and avail of the SRES scheme, it is important to be aware of the requirements which will determine its eligibility.
The eligibility requirements for STCs recently changed on 01 April 2022. Although the requirements are particularly meant for the solar companies themselves, it helps to know the information to make sure you are getting a quote from an eligible entity. Among the requirements are:
- The solar installer has to be accredited by the CEC to design and install small generation units eligible under the scheme
- The solar installer holds an unrestricted electrical licence issued by the state or territory authority for the place where the unit was installed
- The solar installer ensures the components to be installed as part of the system are listed on the CEC list of approved products, including the Approved PV Modules and the Approved Inverters.
The full list of eligibility requirements and other technical requirements can be found here.
How to Apply for the Small-scale Renewable Energy Scheme?
Unlike State and Territory-specific programs or schemes, the SRES automatically takes effect. Every solar system price advertised online, on the paper, or on the television will already have “the rebate” applied. This means every household PV system’s quote has had its price lowered by the SRES by default.
What is Energy Made Easy?
Energy Made Easy allows feed-in tariffs for renewable energy to pay for excess electricity generated by small-scale PV or wind power systems. The amount paid varies among different retailers and can be compared via the Energy Made Easy website.
This program is not limited to QLD, and is also available to residents of the ACT, NSW, SA, and Tas. The program complements the financial assistance that can be sought through the Australian Government’s Small-scale Renewable Energy Scheme (SRES).
Who Is Eligible for Energy Made Easy?
In order to be eligible to receive a feed-in tariff, a solar system should be installed on a household or small business, and connected to the grid within the National Energy Market (NEM).
What Information Do I Need to Apply for Energy Made Easy?
The current energy usage information from their electricity bills has to be provided because this is used for benchmarking. The applicant should also inform the Government of the type of energy plan they are looking to get, as well as their location.
The feed-in credits or payments home or business owners receive may have implications if they are currently receiving any Centrelink or other benefit payments, and could be considered as assessable income by the Australian Taxation Office (ATO).
How to Apply for Energy Made Easy?
Eligible individuals can head to the Energy Made Easy website and choose the right energy plan for their needs. Since it is a multi-State program, the specifics, such as the amount of solar feed-in tariff one can get, is dependent on Government rules.
Other factors that affect this are whether the energy retailer has their own solar feed-in tariff, the type of PV system installed, the amount set by the State Government, and whether the energy retailers add on to the amount set forth by the Government.
What Government Solar Panel Incentives Are Available in the ACT?
What is the Solar for Low Income Households Program?
This is an Australian Capital Territory (ACT) Government program aimed at helping eligible residents to invest in rooftop solar panels to reduce their energy costs. The program offers the following options:
- A rebate only, worth up to 50% capped at $2,500 for the supply and installation of a rooftop PV system. The PV module will be funded by the applicant and the ACT Government will process the rebate. The supplier may be paid directly.
- A Rebate and interest-free loan with the ACT Government’s partner, Brighte — who will be responsible for processing the rebate and loan.
The ACT Government made an initial investment of $3.1 million for stage one of the program, with a commitment to invest a total of $50 million over the next four years. By mid-2022, the program will give eligible homeowners an additional rebate worth $2,500 to include other non-solar, energy-efficient products such as heating and cooling systems, insulation, and hot water heat pumps — This will bring the total rebate to $5,000. This program is part of the ACT Government’s net zero emissions by 2045.
Who Is Eligible for Solar for Low Income Households Program?
To be eligible for the program, the person applying must hold an Australian Government Pensioner Concession Card or Department of Veterans’ Affairs Gold Card, own and occupy a residence in the ACT, and not already have a rooftop solar panel installed.
Other conditions may apply, so it is advised to check your eligibility by visiting the ACT Government website, or by calling 13 22 81.
What Information Do I Need to Apply for Solar for Low Income Households Program?
There are no account-keeping costs or fees associated with the rebate or loan, but there may be some fees applied to loans in arrears. The loan can be paid early with no penalty fees.
Additionally, the applicant must meet the standard credit criteria to get a loan, which includes the ability to repay without hardship and good credit history. The loan provider is required to follow responsible lending practices stipulated in the National Consumer Protection Credit Act 2009. However, credit checks are not required for the ‘rebate only’ application.
How to Apply for Solar for Low Income Households Program?
Whether applying for option 1 (rebate only) or option 2 (rebate and interest-free loan), the applicant will have to attend a free online Home Energy Support Workshop (A face-to-face option is available upon inquiry).
For option 1 applicants, they will then have to complete the Application Form before product installation, and the Rebate Form after the installation. Supporting documents such as proof of eligibility and quotes from accredited suppliers will have to be submitted. The rebate will be paid directly to the homeowner within seven business days upon the ACT Government’s processing of the form.
For option 2 applicants, they may visit the Brighte website (the ACT Government’s partner for the program) for the specific information and documents required.
What Government Solar Panel Incentives are Available in NSW?
What is the Empowering Homes Solar Battery Loan?
The loan offer from the NSW Government helps homeowners in eligible postcodes access interest-free loans to install solar battery systems. Through the loan offer, eligible applicants may get an interest-free loan for the following:
- Up to $14,000 for a solar PV and battery system (repayable over a range of terms up to eight years), or
- Up to $9,000 for retrofitting a battery system to an already existing PV system (repayable over a range of terms up to 10 years)
The offer does not offer solar-only options. This means that solar panels should always be accompanied by a battery system. The loan offer is currently running as a pilot program and is only available in select regions. Homeowners who avail of the loan will gain access to an extended 10-year warranty on their system components.
Who Is Eligible for the Empowering Homes Solar Battery Loan?
To be eligible for the loan offer, applicants should be located in one of the eligible postcodes, have a household income not exceeding $180,000 per annum, own their grid-connected home, reside in it and have the authority to install the PV and battery system, and satisfy the loan criteria.
The eligible postcodes for the Empowering Homes Solar Battery Loan can be found here, listed in alphabetical order by Local Government Area (LGA).
What Information Do I Need to Apply for an Empowering Homes Solar Battery Loan?
Solar battery systems are not for everyone or for every household. The benefits will depend on how much electricity is used on average, including when and how it is used.
The NSW Government encourages applicants to make an informed decision before availing of the loan offer by reading the Program Guide, the NSW Home Solar Battery Guide and Fact Sheets, as well as the Applicant Terms and Conditions, among others.
But as a general rule, a household will benefit from a solar battery system if it uses an above average amount of electricity (upwards of 6,000kW hours per annum), uses most of it in the mornings and evenings, and is currently on a time-of-use tariff with their electricity retailer (or plan to switch to one). The NSW Government has a Solar Battery Calculator for those who want a deeper insight to their possible energy savings. The loan offer also only applies to approved suppliers listed here.
How to Apply for an Empowering Homes Solar Battery Loan?
To apply for the NSW Government’s loan offer, the applicant must have contacted several of the Approved Suppliers, have discussed their needs, and have organised several detailed quotes. After which, the applicant should head to the quote portal managed by Plenti, the NSW Government’s delivery partner for the loan.
Should the loan be approved, the applicant’s chosen suppliers will make contact to arrange for the installation.
What Government Solar Panel Incentives are Available in the Northern Territory?
What is the Home and Business Battery Scheme?
The Home and Business Battery Scheme is a grant offered to Northern Territory (NT) homeowners, businesses, or not-for-profit organisations. The scheme gives access to a grant worth $450 per kW hour of usable battery system capacity, up to a maximum of $6,000.
Homeowners that also own a business may apply for both their household and their business. The grant is available to all eligible recipients regardless of their current electricity provider.
Customers of Jacana Energy who receive the premium on-for-one feed-in tariff who apply for this grant will be transferred to a standard feed-in tariff — a condition under the grant.
Who Is Eligible for the Home and Business Battery Scheme?
Persons who are registered owner of residential property in the NT, a registered NT business, or a not-for-profit organisation operating in the NT are eligible for the grant.
The residential property can either be owner-occupied or is being used as an investment. However, only one application can be made per property and per homeowner. But for homeowners who also own a business, they can submit an application for both.
What Information Do I Need to Apply for the Home and Business Battery Scheme?
Applications which were received prior to 01 July 2021 were eligible for the previous $6,000 grant and were assessed under the scheme’s terms and conditions. However, applying from 02 August 2021 onwards, the grant will only be available for approved battery systems, assessed as virtual power plant capable.
Funding from this grant can be used to purchase and install a solar PV module with an eligible battery and inverter or purchase an eligible battery and inverter only if a PV module is already installed.
How to Apply for the Home and Business Battery Scheme?
To apply for the grant, you are encouraged to read the terms and conditions, and verify their eligibility. They then have to get a quote from a qualified system installer — the requirements can be checked at the NT WorkSafe website. After choosing a quote, you will have to apply online to receive a unique voucher.
Eligible works must only start after the application has been approved, and should be completed within six months from the date of issuance of the voucher.
What Government Solar Panel Incentives are Available in Queensland?
The solar incentives available to Queensland residents are the two schemes available nationally in Australia, the Energy Made Easy incentive plan and the Small-scale Renewable Energy Scheme (SRES). These two plans are the only ones available in Queensland and are available for residents throughout the state.
What Government Solar Panel Incentives are Available in South Australia?
What is the Home Battery Scheme?
The Home Battery Scheme provides grid-connected South Australians access to the State Government’s subsidies and low-interest loans provided by the Clean Energy Finance Corporation to help residents pay for a home battery system, and a solar panel, if required.
This subsidy program is available to all residents of SA and is calculated based on the kWh capacity of the battery purchased. In addition, Energy Concession Holders are also eligible for a higher subsidy, which ensures that low-income households are given support to access the program. The current home battery scheme subsidy levels are:
- Energy Concession Holder: $250 per kWh
- All other households: $150 per kWh
- Maximum subsidy per battery installation: $2,000
Who Is Eligible for the Home Battery Scheme?
All SA residents are eligible for the Home Battery Scheme subsidy, while residents who are Energy Concession Holders have access to a higher amount. Applicants are enjoined to read the Subsidy Terms and the Customer and Site Eligibility for more information.
What Information Do I Need to Apply for the Home Battery Scheme?
The total cost of a Home Battery System (HBS) varies greatly, depending on the size, and whether new or additional PV modules have to be installed. The HBS Price Guide is a recommended read for residents who plan to avail of the subsidy.
Low-interest loans are also available to assist households in paying for the balance of the battery and solar panels, subject to credit approval. Loan applications can be made through Plenti — the administrator of the HBS subsidy. The Plenti HBS Calculator is available for those who want an insight into their possible loan repayments.
How to Apply for the Home Battery Scheme?
To claim the subsidy, an approved battery system has to be installed by a qualified System Provider under the scheme. Once a homeowner accepts a quote for an eligible home battery system, the provider will send a link to the Plenti website where the subsidy will be applied.
Those looking for a financing option will also see it on the website. The subsidy amount that the homeowner is eligible for will be deducted from the amount shown on the quote from the system provider.
What Government Solar Panel Incentives are Available in Tasmania?
The solar incentives available in Tasmania are the two schemes available nationally in Australia, the Small-scale Renewable Energy Scheme (SRES) and the Energy Made Easy incentive plan. These two plans are the only ones available in Tasmania.
What Government Solar Panel Incentives are Available in Victoria?
What is the Solar Homes Program?
The Solar Homes Program is a rebate program that assists eligible Victorian households, rental property owners, and not-for-profit community housing providers to install solar panels.
Additional assistance is also offered, including no-interest loans to complement the rebate. A rebate of up to 50% of the purchase cost to install PV modules is provided, up to $1,400, approximately half the value of an average 4kW PV system.
Who Is Eligible for the Solar Homes Program?
To be eligible for the program, the applicant shall be the owner-occupier of the property, the owners have a total household taxable income not exceeding $180,000 per annum, the property is valued at under $3 million, and it must not have an existing PV system.
Not-for-profit community housing providers, on the other hand, must meet the Solar Homes criteria for community housing organisations.
Documentations required by the program to prove eligibility include proof of identity, proof of property ownership, and proof of income.
What Information Do I Need to Apply for the Solar Homes Program?
Applicants are encouraged to inform themselves by reading the Fact Sheets provided by Solar Victoria, as well as understand the process and eligibility criteria.
The Solar Panel Rebate Fact Sheet, Solar Panel Rebate and Loans Applicant Eligibility Form, Solar Loans Fact Sheet, and Solar Homes Fact Sheet are found on their website.
How to Apply for the Solar Homes Program?
Interested and eligible applicants should get a written quote from an authorised solar retailer containing all necessary information. The retailer will also upload the quote into the Solar Victoria Portal which will allow applicants to start the online eligibility process.
After this, applicants will need to secure a pre-approval from the Distribution Network Service Provider (DNSP), and get their eligibility number and QR code.
What Government Solar Panel Incentives are Available in Western Australia?
What is the Distributed Energy Buyback Scheme?
The Distributed Energy Buyback Scheme (DEBS) offers eligible customers a time of export payment for electricity that their systems export into the grid, which includes rooftop solar systems, batteries, and even electric vehicles.
The DEBS pricing structure encourages households to either store their solar energy generation in the middle of the day or use it, making it one of the most popular solar rebates in WA.
Since DEBS utilises time of export payments, the rates better reflect the cost of electricity during different times of the day. This means higher prices are paid for electricity which is exported in the late afternoon and evening periods, since electricity demand and wholesale cost of electricity are higher.
- Peak-rates: Electricity exported between 3PM-9PM earns 10 cents per kWh
- Off-peak rates: Electricity exported between 9PM-3PM earns 2.75 cents per kWh
- Peak-rates: Electricity exported between 3PM-9PM earns 10 cents per kWh
- Off-peak rates: Electricity exported between 9PM-3PM earns 3 cents per kWh
Who Is Eligible for the Distributed Energy Buyback Scheme?
The Western Australian (WA) Government has established the eligibility requirements for retailers to offer a buyback scheme through the Electricity Industry (Licensing Conditions) 2005.
Per the legislation, an eligible customer is someone who is a residential customer who consumes not more than 50MWh of electricity per annum, or a customer that is a school, university, or a customer who is a non-profit-making organisation.
For a renewable energy system to be eligible for DEBS, it should have a generating capacity between 500W and 5kW. However, a 6,6kW PV system with a 5KVa inverter is accepted as having a generating capacity of just 5kW.
What Information Do I Need to Apply for the Distributed Energy Buyback Scheme?
DEBS replaced the old Renewable Energy Buyback Scheme (REBS) on 08 September 2020. Anybody who is currently signed up to the old REBS will still continue receiving their rates unless a change is made to their PV systems or request for a switch to DEBS.
How to Apply for the Distributed Energy Buyback Scheme?
For anyone installing a new PV system or upgrading an existing one, the solar installer will have to apply through one of the two retailers (Synergy or Horizon Power) for the buyback rate found on the retailer’s website.
How Much Can You Save From Government Solar Panel Incentives?
This varies greatly depending on the State and Territory Governments’ solar incentives, as well as your exact eligibility for these programs (different levels of eligibility offer different amounts of rebates and incentives).
Are Solar Panels Tax Deductible in Australia?
For those running a business remotely, solar can be deducted from the End Of Financial Year (EOFY) taxes. This has been confirmed by an Australian Taxation Office (ATO) representative, in which a rooftop system can be claimed under the $20,000 instant asset write-off scheme.
When Does The Government Solar Rebate End?
The government’s Small-scale Technology Certificate (STC) scheme, or the solar rebate, is designed to be phased out gradually. The amount of rebate is reduced on the 1st of January every year until it drops to zero in 2032.
When Does The Solar Rebate End in Victoria?
The Solar Rebate in Victoria will maintain its current value of up to $1,400 until 30 June 2022. There is no definite end date for the Victorian solar rebate, but it can be discontinued at any point after this.
This article is published in good faith and for general informational purposes only. JFK Electrical does not make any warranties about the ongoing completeness and reliability of this information. Always seek personalised advice on solar energy to ensure any recommendations suit your property and scenario.
John Lyons, the owner of JFK Electrical Solar & Air, started his career in the electrical industry in 1997. With years of experience gained in the industry across multiple continents, he relocated to Australia and decided to specialise in solar and air conditioning. After deciding he wanted to be closer to his family, John began his own local electrical business in Mandurah, using his extensive knowledge and training in the industry. At JFK, John’s number one goal is to provide tailored solutions to his customers. And thanks to his experience and commitment to his customers, JFK Electrical is now one of the most trusted local businesses in Mandurah for solar and electrical services.