How do these Federal Rebates work, and what are they worth?

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The Australian Government is supporting the deployment of renewable energy in Australia's electricity supply through the Renewable Energy Target (RET) scheme. The RET guarantees a market for additional renewable energy generation, using a mechanism of tradable renewable energy certificates.

The Small-scale Renewable Energy Scheme (SRES) applies to homes, businesses and community groups.

The SRES provides a financial benefit for owners wishing to purchase eligible solar water heaters, air source heat pumps and small-scale solar photovoltaic panels, wind and hydro systems. Installation of these units permits the creation of Small-scale Technology Certificates (STCs), formerly, called Renewable Energy Certificates (RECs),  which can be exchanged for financial benefit for owners.

Owners have two options for gaining a financial benefit for their certificates:

  1. Selling the right to include STCs to an Agent, in exchange for discounts or payment, or
  2. Selling the certificates themselves, either through the open STC market (pricing subject to market forces) or through the STC Clearing House (price fixed at $40 per STC, excl. GST.)

Liable entities (typically electricity retailers) are required to buy from agents or owners a number of STCs as defined by the Small-scale Technology Percentage (STP). These STCs are surrendered to ORER by liable entities quarterly in April, July, October and February.

Solar Credits are provided in the form of  additional tradable STCs for eligible small-scale solar PV, wind and hydro electricity systems.

Solar Credits is a mechanism within the RET scheme that provides additional support to households, businesses and community groups that install small-scale solar PV, wind and hydro electricity systems by multiplying the number of RECs able to be created for eligible installations.

Solar Credits apply to the first 1.5 kilowatts (kW) of capacity installed for systems connected to a main electricity grid and up to the first 20 kW of capacity for off-grid systems.

Solar Credits work by multiplying the number of certificates these systems would generally be eligible to create under the standard deeming arrangements. The level of support in terms of the number of STCs received via Solar Credits will be determined by the date the system is installed.

For systems installed from 1 July 2011 to 30 June 2012, the multiplier will be three, and will reduce by one each financial year until the standard rate of STC creation (a multiplier of one) applies for systems installed from 1 July 2013.

While system owners can create and sell the certificates themselves, in practice, providers of solar PV systems such as Greener Energy usually offer a discount on the price of a solar PV system, or a cash payment, in return for the right to create and sell the Solar Credits.

Detailed information on eligibility and processes for accessing Solar Credits is available on the website of the Office of the Renewable Energy Regulator (ORER), which administers Solar Credits