NSW solar bonus scheme under review

By Lilia Guan
The New South Wales Government's Solar Bonus Scheme has hit 50 megawatts and a review, looking at a number of issues, is now underway.
Minister for Energy Paul Lynch told Government News, the Solar Bonus Scheme has been successful.
Changes to the scheme were first introduced by the State in November 2009. At the time the ‘gross scheme’ was based on the total solar energy produced in homes rather than payments based only on what people didn't use.
The changes would see an average family paid about $1496 a year and homeowners would know up-front how much they would be paid for all the energy their solar panels produced.
Households with solar panels would be paid 60 cents per kilowatt hour. An average household system would generate annually around 2500 kWh.
The NSW scheme would also cap the size of home solar systems at 10 kW. A system this size would generate around 16,700 kWh and pay about $10,000 per year.
However, under the legislation, supported by the Opposition, the Government must review the Solar Bonus Scheme if it reaches a capacity of 50 megawatts.
“A review was now under way,” Mr Lynch said.
“The review will consider a range of issues including costs.
“The legislation dictates the review process and that process is being followed to the letter.”
The Minister said a report will be tabled towards the end of the current session of Parliament and any changes to the Scheme must be made by legislation and will require the support of the Parliament.
However, deputy director of Environmental Studies at the University of NSW, Mark Disendorf said the key issue of the solar bonus scheme was the rate of 60 cents per kilowatt hour was too high for the short period of time.
“I would recommend the scheme be set at 40 cents per kilowatt hour and the time be extended to 15 years,” Professor Disendorf said.
“The current scheme creates a boom and bust situation with investors jumping onto the scheme fairly quickly but then leaving the scheme because of its short period.”
Professor Disendorf told Government News his proposal to reduce the feed-in tariff and stretch out its availability would get rid of that “boom or bust” situation.

Having good incentives and ones that people can count on would help the industry to build solar technology, including the modules and invertors needed for the panels, he said.
“In Europe good feed-in tariffs over long periods of time create enormous growth in investment and contributes to job growth,” Professor Disendorf said.
“Wind technology, with solar panels, contributed to the biggest generating capacity in Europe.”
He said these types of renewable energy sources weren’t considered niche and were very much mainstream technologies.

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