Yesterday I signed a contract for NuEnergy to install a 1.5kW photovoltaic power system on our roof. The installation won't happen for 10-12 weeks (as all the application paperwork for the Federal government rebate has to be approved before installation can commence). So, hopefully, the system will be installed before Christmas.
I decided to sign-up immediately because the state government feed-in tariff of 66c per kWhr power generated by small PV systems is due to be reconsidered now that the review threshold of 50MW PV capacity has been reached. The review is due to be completed by the end of September, and soon afterwards new legislation will be passed by state parliament for a new (probably lower) Gross feed-in tariff, or possibly removing the option of Gross feed-in for new agreements. So, time was of the essence in getting signed up for the existing Gross feed-in tariff with Energy Australia.
The PV system should cost around $3,000 installed (due to the Federal governments rebate worth about $6,000!), and at a Gross feed-in tariff of 66 per kWhr the system should generate about $1,400 income per year until the end of the current tariff in 6.5 years time. So the PV system should pay itself off in the first two years, and earn us a net profit of around $5,000 by 2017. After that it should continue to provide about 15% of our energy needs at zero cost, saving around $500 off our annual electricity bill. Since the cost of electricity is rapidly rising the annual saving from 2017 is likely to be much greater, but we will still have a much bigger electricity bill than today. By 2017 there may be more efficient PV cells available, so it might be worth augmenting the capacity of our system at that time.
Once the system is installed and I have actual energy production data available from the 'smart' meter, I may experiment with boosting output by positioning some mirrors around the PV panels. As second-hand mirrors are available for minimal cost, it may be possible to reflect additional sunlight onto the panels relatively simply. A carefully positioned fixed mirror would direct additional sunlight onto the panels in the middle of the day, and only cast a shadow onto the PV array when the sun is at low altitude. The net effect should be a gain in total daily output from the PV system.
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