Friday, September 11, 2009

becoming a solar home

it was march 2008 when i registered my interest for the queensland solar homes program, a ClimateSmart 2050 initiative designed to develop the photovoltaic industry in Queensland and make solar power systems more accessible and affordable to the home owner. essentially this meant i could get a 1kW photovoltaic system (solar panels, inverter etc) installed for the grand total of $185 after accounting for applicable federal government rebates and RECS (renewable energy certificates).

a year and a bit later, the system was finally installed in april 2009. here are my panels in all their solar-radiation-collecting glory:
(i've never been up on my roof; wifey got the installers to help take this photo)

that was part 1. the system would now be able to save me money with free electricity - whenever it's generating energy, my home's energy needs would be met first via the PV system (the "free" bit) before looking to be fed by the electricity grid.

it would be another few months of to-ing and fro-ing (all rather unnecessary, i'd say) before part 2 got up and running. once i eventually had my old meter replaced by a bi-directional one, i could start making money out of the system by selling any excess energy produced during sunlight hours (ie if the PV system is producing more energy than what my home is using) back to the grid, at a rate that is three times what one pays when using electricity. in reality it's still a saving because whatever i produce is given to me as a credit to offset my usage charges. here is my new meter in action, showing the two readings a fortnight after installation (energy used, energy generated):

the part 1 savings i'd estimate at roughly 30c/day, and so far my part 2 savings have been $24.20 in my latest bill - that's based on 18 days of having the new meter, so about $1.30/day. this means after another 3 months or so, i would have made back my $185 investment. not a bad return, i'd say - thank you australia, thank you queensland, and thank you sunshine :)