According to figures released by ETSA Utilities to The Advertiser, residential installations of grid connect solar power systems has more than doubled over the last year.
There are currently 3700 homes in South Australia exporting electricity to the mains grid, up from 1700 this time last year. ETSA states they are currently processing an average of 300 applications a month for grid connected systems, compared with 30 applications monthly during 2007.
While this is a good result, spurred on by the doubling of the government rebate from $4,000 - $8,000 mid-last year; many in the solar industry have pointed out that the means test recently introduced by the Federal Government, which excluded households with incomes above $100,000 from receiving the rebate has seen the average size of solar power systems drop. More systems are being installed, but there is little change in overall electricity output.
Families with an income of above $100,000 a year are those more likely to have the available funds to install bigger systems, but have been disheartened by the discriminating means test, opting not to bother to install solar at all.
Energy Matters , suppliers of renewable energy equipment, believe that in order for Australia to achieve its MRET (Mandatory Renewable Energy Target) of 20% share for renewable energy in Australia's electricity supply by 2020, residential grid connect installations play a major role - so the means test should be removed or revised to encourage the purchase of these larger systems.
In addition, a national gross feed in tariff should be introduced in order to reward grid connect system owners for their contribution to the nation's electricity supply and their reduction in household related greenhouse gas emissions.