Power to the people in solar

AUSTRALIAN households may be eligible to receive a benefit under the Small-scale Renewable Energy Scheme to help with the purchase cost when they install a small scale renewable energy system.

Energy.gov.au said installing an eligible system allowed the creation of Small-scale Technology Certificates with a value that can be redeemed by selling or assigning them.

The number of STCs created is based on the following:

The amount of renewable electricity the system produces or the amount of electricity consumption it reduces

The climate region where it’s installed

Key small-scale renewable systems which may be eligible for certificates include solar photovoltaic panels as well as solar water heaters among others.

STCs are provided “up front” for the systems’ expected power generation over a 15 year period or, from 2017, from the installation year until 2030 when the scheme ends.

This renewable electricity essentially replaces electricity generated from non-renewable sources.

Householders who purchase these systems generally assign the right to create their certificates to an agent in return for a lower purchase price.

The level of this benefit differs across the country depending on the level of solar energy.

Owners have two options for receiving benefit for their STCs:

In exchange for a discount or delayed cash payment, owners can assign them to an agent, usually the system installer

Selling the certificates themselves. There are also two options for selling the certificates:

Through the open STCs market, with pricing subject to market forces; or

Through the STCs Clearing House with the price fixed at $40 per STC, excluding GST

For more information on this topic, visit www.clean energyregulator.gov.au.

How is solar energy created?

THE process of converting sunlight to energy may sound like a complicated process, but it is really quite simple.

The New South Wales Government explained on their website that solar energy is generated by using two properties of sunlight – particle and wave.

The first property is the energy inside the sunlight, known as the particle or photon.

Sunlight is directly converted into electricity using solar photovoltaic cells and a number of these cells make up a panel.

Varying in size, the panels can be as small as a watch or mobile phone case, or as big as a large-scale solar power plant.

Used to create thermal energy (heat), the second property is the wave-like nature of sunlight.

Solar thermal technologies are used when sunlight is converted into heat energy.

Thermal energy can be immediately converted into electricity by focusing sunlight to a single point using concentrated solar thermal power systems, or stored in water, air or molten salts then converted to electricity as required.