Upgrading your home can save you in the long run – whether through generating your own electricity with solar, spending less on hot water with a heat pump, or getting an efficient heating and cooling solution. But if you want a quality system, you will have to spend money upfront (and sometimes quite a bit!).
This doesn’t have to burn a massive hole in your pocket, though. There are ways to bring the cost down, one of which is Small-scale Technology Certificates, or STCs. Since a lot of people can find this complex, we’ve written this guide to teach you about STCs in plain language. By the end of it, you should be a certified expert on all things STC.
What is an STC? The basics
STCs are granted as part of the Small-scale Renewable Energy Scheme. Essentially, when you install a renewable energy system – like solar panels and heat pumps – you earn a number of STCs based on the expected emissions offset from installation year to 2030. The more power your panels generate (or the less power your heat pump uses compared to an electric or gas system), the more STCs are earned.
These earned STCs are then sold. You can go through the claims process on your own, but often your installer will fill out the forms for you, giving you a lower purchase price on the system rather than paying you the money directly. It’s the same net difference to your bottom line, it just means you don’t have to go through and fill out all the paperwork yourself. That’s how G Store typically handles it.
A lot of the time, when you see a solar system advertised, it’s already had the STC value subtracted – be careful not to rush into a system expecting an additional STC discount from that price.
Are there any conditions to STCs?
There are a few conditions that apply to the STC scheme, and these differ based on what you’re claiming them for. For solar systems, you’ll need a Clean Energy Council (CEC) accredited designer and installer, and the system will have to be installed according to the CEC’s guidelines. The panels and inverters will also need to be ones approved by the CEC.
Solar hot water systems and heat pumps will have to be listed on the Clean Energy Regulator’s Register of solar water heaters. Heat pumps need to have a capacity no greater than 425L, or 700L for solar hot water.
G Store only installs solar systems and heat pumps that meet these specifications, so if you decide to choose us for your system, don’t worry. If you choose to go somewhere else, make sure you check that your install will be eligible for STCs, or you may end up paying more than you would otherwise.
And, honestly, we’d recommend avoiding systems that aren’t eligible for STCs. The Clean Energy Council’s guidelines exist for a reason, and you’re best off choosing a provider and installer that follow them.
Can I claim STCs more than once?
In some cases, you can claim STCs more than once. Here’s the situations where you can claim STCs again:
- If you add more panels and keep the existing inverter.
- If you install a separate system to your property, with new panels and a new inverter.
- If you replace the system entirely, getting new panels and a new inverter.
You cannot claim STCs if you replace existing panels but keep your inverter. Even if every panel needs replacing, you won’t be eligible for STCs. People in this situation used to be able to claim STCs – the rules were changed in 2018 after some companies gamed the system. Disreputable companies would use unreliable, low-cost panels, knowing that it would cost them basically nothing to replace under warranty thanks to STCs. Some even went so far as to use panels so cheap that claiming STCs would give them a profit. Those who had the panels installed on their home were left with a dodgy system and no recourse.
Until 2017, you would receive STCs for 15 years of your system’s offset. That changed, which means that STCs go down every year. Now, it’s calculated based on the system’s emissions offset to 2030, which means each year, you’ll receive less.
For example, if you buy a cheaper system today that needs replacing in six years, yes, you’ll be able to claim STCs – but you’ll only get the value from 2028 to 2030, rather than 2022 to 2030. Don’t expect to replace your system for the same price.
Can I claim STCs on my own?
You can claim STCs on your own – the Clean Energy Regulator’s site has a guide on how you do this. However, it’s a complicated process that requires you are registered with the Renewable Energy Certificate Registry.
That’s why we recommend letting our experts handle it. You’ll receive the amount you would in the form of a discount on your system’s price, so there’s no real downside to going through us.
Are there other rebates available?
Yes, other rebates are available, depending on your state. Victorians could be eligible for the Solar Homes Program, which includes a solar panel rebate, a hot water system rebate, a solar battery rebate, and a Virtual Power Plant program. We’ve got more information about these rebates at this link.
Want to learn more?
Rebates are only one part of deciding what system is best for you. If you’re after more info on heat pumps, solar systems, or sustainable heating and cooling, then our Learning Centre is the perfect place to start. If you decide you’d like to upgrade your home, you can make an appointment with our team to go over your options and what works best for you.