Solar Panels and Your Home

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Solar panels on roof

Why install rooftop solar?

With increasing electricity prices and decreasing costs of solar energy, now is a great time to join over two million Australian households that have a rooftop solar system. Rooftop solar photovoltaics (PV) systems convert the sun’s energy into electricity to power your home and sell any excess electricity back into the central grid.

As the technology has progressed, rooftop solar PV has become significantly cheaper in recent years. Systems now cost around 30%-50% of what they did a decade ago. Generally, rooftop solar PV systems now pay themselves back in as little as three to seven years and reduce the average household energy bill by $1,000 per annum.

Where do I start?

The Australian Energy Foundation and the Clean Energy Council have great resources to help get you started.

The Australian Energy Foundation provides up-to-date and impartial advice and support on installing solar. You can visit their website or call the free helpline on 1300 23 68 55, during business hours Monday-Friday.

The Clean Energy Council Solar Guide walks you through the following topics:

  • The different types of solar PV systems
  • Costs involved
  • Government incentive schemes
  • Feed-in tariffs (the amount your electricity company pays you for excess power)
  • Choosing the right size solar PV system
  • Things to watch out for when signing a contract
  • Installation and connection to the grid
  • Maintaining your solar PV system
  • What to do if something goes wrong.

Free online solar and battery storage advice is also available through Renew, a national not-for-profit association with many sustainability resources. Their site has a five minute survey to help you determine the best system to suit your house.

Solar technician

Do I need Council approval to install Solar PV?

We recommend the first port of call is for you to call our Duty Planner on 9391 7000. Our Duty Planner is here to help and will provide advice about the appropriate process to follow for your property.

Installing a solar PV system may not need Council approval if the proposal meets the relevant standards in State Environmental Planning Policy (Infrastructure) 2007. These requirements relate to details such as the size of the system, installation standards, the direction the panels face and the distance the panels protrude from the roofline. The full standard is available here: State Environmental Planning Policy (Infrastructure) 2007 (ISEPP). Also refer to Part 3, Division 4, Electricity generating works for solar energy systems.

Note: If your property is listed as a heritage item, or is located in a heritage conservation area, you may not be able to use the standards in the ISEPP.

A Development Application (DA) is required for a solar energy system when the system does not meet these standards. If you need to submit a DA, Council will waive all fees for DAs that are solely for solar PV systems. You can learn more about our DA process and access the relevant forms here .The DA plans can be simple and should include a plan of the property, and the location and size of the proposed solar panel system. The relevant objectives and controls are contained in E6.3 of the Woollahra DCP 2015.

What if I can’t have a rooftop solar PV system?

For tips and hints on how to reduce your electricity and save on power bills, check out the NSW Department of Planning and Environment’s Energy Saver website.

If your roof is unsuitable for a rooftop solar system, or you are a renter, you can power your home with renewable energy by purchasing GreenPower through your electricity retailer.

GreenPower is the only voluntary government accredited program that enables your electricity provider to purchase renewable energy on your behalf. An ACT, NSW, VIC and TAS State Governments joint initiative, GreenPower guarantees that the renewable energy you are buying is helping to develop new renewable energy projects.

There are lots more energy saving ideas through the Australian Energy Foundation including information on draft proofing, hot water systems, air-conditioning upgrades and pool pumps.

What is Council doing?

Council has five rooftop solar systems on our buildings and is investigating additional opportunities to increase our solar power capacity.

Council has signed a Power Purchase Agreement to source a portion of the Council’s electricity from the Mooree Solar Farm. This is a partnership program with the Southern Sydney Regional Organisation of Councils.

The 3-Council Regional Environmental Program (a collaboration between Woollahra, Waverley and Randwick Councils) runs a suite of programs to help the community live more sustainably. Check out the Solar My School Program, through which many schools in our Council area have installed a rooftop solar PV system.