NSW to go gross with solar

Environmental and industry groups have welcomed the announcement by the NSW Government that they will introduce a gross feed in tariff for renewable energy systems such as solar and wind.

A gross tariff system pays for all of the electricity that the system produces, not just the excess that is fed back into the grid.

NSW will be the second region in Australia to introduce a gross tariff system (Canberra was the first) and there are now calls for other states to follow because there is strong evidence that gross feed in tariffs are a key element in increasing the uptake of domestic solar systems and the main reason for Germany’s dominance as a solar power producing nation.

The announcement by Premier Nathan Rees on Tuesday was that households will be paid at 60 cents per kilowatt hour for systems up to 10kW.

Nick Lake, director of the Lismore-based solar installation company Nickel Renewable Energy said it was “a positive step forward for the industry”.

“It (the scheme) has been limited to seven years at this stage (the government’s previous announcement for a net tariff system was for 20 years) which is the one negative, but overall it’s great. People can have certainty about the income they are going to generate from their system and should have it paid off within that seven-year period. Then it’s effectively free energy.”

The NSW Opposition had been promising to bring in a gross tariff system if elected in 2011, but Labor has now stolen their sunshine.

“It was a bit of a bolt out of the blue, no-one was expecting this,” Mr Lake said. “Perhaps they felt pressured to match the Opposition’s offer.”

The scheme will begin on January 1, 2010.


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