Renewable Energy

You can generate free, clean electricity at home by installing a solar (photovoltaic or PV), wind or small hydro (water) renewable energy generation system. Your choice of sustainable power can make a big difference to your energy bills and greenhouse gas emissions.

Use a local, accredited installer who can advise you on the best system for your home and household needs.

Feed-in tariffs for renewable energy pay for excess electricity generated by small-scale solar photovoltaic (PV) or wind power systems. The amount paid varies between different retailers and can be compared using the Energy Made Easy website.

Solar power

Energy from the sun can be captured in two ways: as heat energy (thermal energy – for instance, hot water heaters) or as light energy. Photovoltaic (PV) technology, also known as solar panels, converts the sun's light energy into an electrical current.

Solar power systems have become very popular with Australian home owners, with more than 1.88 million roof top systems installed across Australia (as at 31 May 2018).

While the upfront cost of a solar power system must be met, once installed they require little maintenance, can be expected to last at least 20 years, and the electricity they generate is free. The cost of solar panels and storage batteries has been coming down and systems are becoming more affordable for many households. In addition, Small-scale Technology Certificates (STCs), are available to eligible households and small businesses when you buy approved solar hot water, solar/wind power systems or solar panels. You can receive cash back on your purchases by selling the certificates or use them as a point of sale discount. STCs are calculated based on the amount of electricity a system produces or replaces (that is, electricity from non-renewable sources).

New developments in lithium-ion battery systems for the home will enable households to get more out their solar power system. Being able to store excess energy you don’t use during the day and access this at night means being less reliant on buying electricity from the grid.

The process of converting sunlight into electricity using PV systems produces no greenhouse gas emissions. Any excess electricity above your needs can be fed back into the mains power grid or into a battery storage system.

To check if your proposed solar system needs planning approval, check with Armidale Regional Council.

Wind turbines

Wind turbines use the power of the wind to turn a propeller which drives a generator to produce electricity. Australia has an abundant wind resource, which, like solar, can be used to radically decrease our greenhouse gas emissions.

To maximise their output, wind turbines are ideally located on tall towers, away from trees and buildings, and at the top of a gentle rise (and so are more common in rural areas). They don’t like turbulence and so should be installed away from the house to capture stable winds and minimise any noise disturbance. Wind turbines are usually part of a stand-alone system where they can be used to charge batteries, or coupled with solar power. Sometimes it is recommended that a generator be added for rare instances of no wind or sun. Depending on your location, some systems may also have the ability to connect to the mains power grid to feed in excess electricity. However, it is important to research wind energy systems and undertake some wind speed monitoring prior to committing to wind turbines. Small-scale Technology Certificates (STCs) are available when you buy qualifying wind or solar/wind power systems. You can receive cash back on your purchases by selling the STCs or use them as a point of sale discount.

Site assessment, determining appropriate tower heights, and choosing a system size, design and manufacturer are best done by an experienced contractor.

To check if your planned small-scale wind turbine is exempt from planning approval, contact Armidale Regional Council.