How much do solar panels cost in Perth?

The Australian solar industry has grown steadily over the last two decades. As of today, the whole country already has over 2.7 million solar installations with a total capacity surpassing 3,000 MW. In 2020 alone, homes all over the country with solar panel installations were responsible for generating 23.5% of the clean energy and 6.5% of the total consumed power in the country.

Solar energy has become one of the most popular renewable energy sources in Australia due to the yearly savings and many other benefits of this technology. Around 27.3% of Australian homes have decided to install solar roof and are fully enjoying clean energy. By the Q4 of 2020, more than 2.68 million rooftops had solar panels installed, and by the end of the Q1 of 2021, 85,000 new installations were completed, all working toward meeting our renewable energy target.

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Figure 1: Quarterly rooftop PV installations by states - Source: SOLAR REPORT QUARTER 1, 2021 - Australian Energy Council (AEC)

The cost of installing solar panels in Australia represents a mid-high upfront cost, but Photovoltaic (PV) systems also have a relatively fast Return of Investment (ROI) or payback periods. After the ROI, the systems will keep producing solar power at zero cost for more than 20 years, many of them above the 25-year warranty.

In this article, we cover the basics of solar system prices in Australia and multiple factors related to it. Here you will learn about solar panel installation costs, feed-in tariffs, the average size for solar panel systems, financial savings, rebates, financing options for solar panels, and more if you are looking to buy solar.

What solar system size do I need for my home?

The required solar system size for a home may vary according to several factors. One of them is definitely the household energy consumption and how much of that consumption will be offset with solar power. Additionally, choosing between grid-tied systems and off-grid solar systems is also another important factor to consider.

In the past, homeowners installed small – medium-sized solar systems of around 4 kW, these systems partially met the power requirements for the home. In recent years, installations have become bigger as homeowners have seen the financial benefits of solar power and selling the excess energy to the electricity grid for a profit. By 2021, the average size of the installed system has increased from under 3.5 kW up to 8.86 kW.

Figure 2 - Monthly average system size since 2012.png

Figure 2: Monthly average system size (kilowatts) since 2012 - Source: SOLAR REPORT QUARTER 1, 2021 - Australian Energy Council (AEC)

Even though homeowners are installing large solar power systems of up to 8.86 kW, this is more than necessary for powering a house since the average Australian home consumes around 19 kWh daily with annual price estimates of $1,331.06 – $2,159.38 in power bills. The reason why some homeowners install systems this large is because they are not only looking to get energy independence, but they also want to make an income from selling excess generated energy to the grid.

Considering you have a home with a 19 kWh average consumption, a 5 kW PV system might be just enough to power your house. Even though the generation capacity varies regarding the location, you can consider that each installed kW in a PV system can generate 4 kWh daily, so a 5 kW PV system will generate up to 20 kWh daily, meeting the required power need for an Australian home.

What is the cost of solar panels in Australia?

The cost of solar power in Australia is relatively low compared to other high-income countries. The main reason for this would be the proximity of Australia to China, the major manufacturer of solar panels in the world.

A general rule of thumb for solar costs is that the larger the system, the cheaper the price per kW.

The price for the solar system usually includes panels, inverter, cables, connectors, other basic components and installation.

Which factors affect solar panel costs?

The price for PV systems can vary regarding many factors as can be seen below.

Government rebates and incentives

To promote the solar industry, the Australian government has many solar rebates and incentives in place. Some incentives are benefits through the Small-scale Renewable Energy Scheme (SRES), while others are discounts or loans for solar batteries, incentives for pensioners, and many others.

Location

Depending on your location, solar panels might be cheaper or more expensive. This is mainly due to the transportation costs in different states, making solar panels relatively cheap in Perth, slightly more expensive in Sydney, Melbourne, Canberra, Brisbane, and Adelaide, while they are quite expensive in Hobart and Darwin.

Size of the system and type of panels

Perhaps the main factor affecting the cost of a solar system is the number and type of panels installed. Depending on the system size, you will get a certain cost per kW installed. This is also why many homeowners are investing in larger systems since the cost per kW is cheaper.

Aside from the number of panels, the type of technology is very important and can highly affect the price. Polycrystalline solar panels are cheaper and easier to manufacture, but they are less efficient panels with an efficiency range of 16 – 18%. Monocrystalline solar panels are slightly more expensive, but they have an efficiency of 18 – 22%.

How much money will I save in a year with solar energy?

The cost per kWh from the grid in Australia is considerably expensive. As you can see in the figure below, when compared to other European countries, the price per watt in Australia can be high.

Figure 3 Comparison of residential electricity prices (before and after-tax) (Australian cents per kWh Source Retail Electricity Pricing Inquiry

Figure 3: Comparison of residential electricity prices (before and after-tax) (Australian cents per kWh) (May 2017 prices in Australia, 2015 prices in European countries) - Source: Retail Electricity Pricing Inquiry: Preliminary report by the ACCC

Depending on the state, the cost per watt may vary. These prices go from 19.46 c/kWh in Victoria, 20.27  c/kWh in Queensland, 23.29 c/kWh in New South Wales, and up to 31.57 c/kWh in South Australia. With high costs for electricity rates, the yearly savings in electricity bills for the typical household can be quite promising.  A 5 kW common size solar system delivering enough power to supply the whole demand of a home, can easily save you between $1,400 and $2,200 per year, providing you with potential savings of $35,000 - $55,000 in the 25-year lifetime of the panels.

What is the return of investment for a PV system in Australia?

Australia is a country with a great return of investment for solar panels. The electricity rates are relatively high, but so is the solar index, meaning that you will get solar power for more hours a day than other countries. In the past, a solar system in Australia had an average payback period of around 5 years, but with lower prices for solar panels, 2021 has an even faster ROI than previous years.

The average Australian home with a 19kWh daily power consumption can pay a little under $1,400 – $2,200 per year in electricity bills. The 5kW system has an average cost under $5,000 delivers a ROI between 3.5 – 2.27 years.

Installing a larger household solar system ensures that the home does not only have full energy independence, but also that it generates money in the long run by selling excess generated energy. With such a fast return of investment, it is understandable why so many homeowners have decided to install 8 kW solar systems, especially when they will be making a bit of a profit out of them.

Can I finance my PV system?

To ensure all homeowners have access to solar panel technology, each one of the state governments has set in place several loan options to acquire PV systems with very low interest rates or even an interest-free loan. Depending on your state, you can pick one of three government solar loans for eligible households in Victoria, New South Wales, and South Australia.  You can check out the loans by filling the form on the Department of Industry, Science, Energy, and Resources website.

Aside from solar loans issued by the government, you can opt to ask for a loan directly with a financial institution or a solar company. These loans might have an interest rate attached to them, but this will only extend the ROI by a few months or even a year, after that period, you will still be enjoying cheap energy without the high upfront costs for the original cost of solar panels.

Will solar power get cheaper in time?

In the last 20 years, the price for solar panels dropped by 90% due to efficient manufacturing processes and economics of scale. In the next 10 years, the price for solar panels could go down by 15 – 25% of its current price, meaning that solar panels could become by far, the cheapest source of renewable energy. This reduced price for solar panels would result in an even faster ROI of 2 – 3 years.

That being said, it is still a better to invest in solar now, since price reduction is not expected to be as important as to represent an important difference. Government rebates and incentives may not be around forever (or may reduce in price), therefore, now that prices are low and incentives are still available would be the best moment.

Conclusion

Australia is one of the best countries to invest in solar energy. Installing a solar system on your roof will make your home energy independent and with a large enough solar system, you will be making a profit due to feed-in tariffs.

Having a solar panel in your property nowadays is not a luxury but a necessity. With fast ROI, financing options and green energy production for more than 20 years, solar is one of the best investments you can make in Australia