I am the proud owner of my very own power station! I have had a solar power system installed since September 2007 and believe that I was an early adopter of this grid connect technology. I have sixteen Sharp 175 watt panels on my carport roof, and a Fronius IG30 inverter which feed in to the National grid. During that time I have generated 14,612 kilowatt hours (kWh), and avoided emitting 17.9 tonnes of CO₂-e. This equates to $3,067 in savings at the present electricity tariff of 21 cents per kWh. Nice stats and it has gone quite a way to paying for itself already.
As we live in Victoria, we are lucky to be paid the Premium Solar Feed-in Tariff of 66c per kWh for every kilowatt hour we export to the grid via a Co-generation Smart Meter. This is what is called a Net Metering scheme as you only get paid for the electricity that you export above and beyond the amount you consume in your home from the solar PV system first. The other type of scheme is a Gross Metering scheme where you get paid for all the electricity you generate. Unfortunately, this scheme is only available in the A.C.T., so we are stuck with Net Metering in Victoria until a national Feed-in Tariff is announced.
Most of our homes electricity usage is during the night after sunset, because I want every single watt of electricity that I generate to be fed back into the grid during the day, so that I get paid the premium rate. Common sense really. To maximise your return on investment you need to use the least amount of electricity during the day so that the excess is fed back into the grid. Here is a more detailed explanation:
My pool pump only runs at night, as does the washing machine, iron, and dishwasher which are all the heavy energy demanding appliances and pumps we own. We buy 100% Green Power to help with carbon neutrality, which only costs me 25c per kWh, and we try not to use the day time power generated by my Solar PV system which is worth 66c to me.
For instance, if it was a sunny day and I generated 10 kWh, and I used 10 kWh during daylight hours I would mostly be drawing that electricity straight from the solar PV system because my home would use it first. There is none spare to export. Therefore, I would be ripping myself off by 41c per kWh utilised in the home. If I did this every day it adds up to a loss of $4.10 a day or over a 90 day billing period it adds up to a whopping big $369. This is massive loss as you can see. If I had have exported all of that electricity into the grid over the billing period, I would have been paid a massive $594, and would be probably be in credit on my bill. The way I see it, by using most of our electricity during the night from the grid when I am not generating electricity and feeding as much as I can into the grid during the day, I am still carbon neutral (due to GreenPower) and am simply using the Solar PV system to my financial advantage! There is certainly no crime against that. Being green does pay in the long run.
Just because you may have bought your solar power system to reduce your environmental footprint, it doesn’t mean you can’t get the most out of your investment. I highly recommend that you try and restrict your consumption during the day, and think about utilising the heavy powered appliances at night to maximise your Solar PV investment.
While you are at it, have a think about how you use your electricity. If you practice energy efficiency measures around the home, you will save even more on your electricity bill. Turning that light off in that empty bedroom doesn’t sound too difficult once you get into the habit, and you will save a few bucks as well.