Newcastle’s climate is quite pleasant. Summers are warm with an average high of 25.6°C in January, while winters are mildly cool with an average low of 8.4°C in July.
Newcastle Solar Potential
Solar panels on a typical north facing roof in Newcastle will receive an average amount of sunlight energy equal to about 5.0 hours of full noon sunshine a day. This puts Newcastle on par with Canberra and a little ahead of Sydney.
A new 6 kilowatt solar system on a north facing roof could be expected to produce an average of around 24 kilowatt-hours a day or 8,760 kilowatt-hours a year.
Solar Feed-In Tariffs In Newcastle
Feed-in tariffs are a payment for surplus electricity produced by rooftop solar panels that isn’t used by the household or business but is instead sent into the grid. In NSW the feed-in tariffs available depend on what is offered by electricity retailers.
Just which is the best plan to use depends upon individual circumstances. Electricity retailer plans can be compared using SolarQuotes’ electricity price comparison tool.
The Rooftop Solar Application Process In Newcastle
I strongly recommend having your installer guide you through the application process for rooftop solar. In some areas network operators request that you contact them first, but that does not appear to be the case in Newcastle.
Maximum Solar System Size In Newcastle
Newcastle households can install up to 4.99 kilowatts of rooftop solar if they have single phase power. This maximum is determined by the size of the inverter, so it is possible for a Newcastle home to have 5 or more kilowatts of solar panels provided their inverter is less than 5 kilowatts.
Households with 3 phase power can install up to 30 kilowatts of rooftop solar before special protective equipment needs to be installed, but council permission will be required to install more than 10 kilowatts.
Ten kilowatts of solar panels covers a considerable amount of roof space. If they are 20% efficient they will take up 50 square meters. While solar panels don’t necessarily have to all be located together, many people will still have difficulty finding enough room on their roof for 10 or more kilowatts.
Newcastle Electricity Usage
A Newcastle household of 3 people without a gas connection will use an average of around 6,940 kilowatt-hours a year. The average Newcastle home uses 34% more electricity in winter than summer.
Newcastle Roofs And Solar Panel Tilt
The best angle to install solar panels is the angle your roof is already at. While it is possible to use frames that alter the tilt of the panels, unless there are special circumstances, these are not worth it these days. There is very little difference in output over a year between a shallow 15 degree roof and a steep 45 degree roof.
How Solar Panel Direction Affects Output In Newcastle
North facing solar panels will produce the most electricity, but placing panels facing east or west can definitely be worthwhile, especially if they increase a household’s self consumption of solar electricity - which should be a primary goal.
Panels facing directly east or west will produce almost 20% less electricity than north facing panels over a year. East facing panels will produce more electricity in the morning, while west facing ones produce more in the afternoon. East facing panels will produce slightly more electricity than west facing ones as mornings are cooler than afternoons and heat reduces solar panel efficiency.
Panels facing north-east or north-west will produce about 5% less electricity than north facing panels.
Getting The Most Out Rooftop Solar In Newcastle
For households with higher electricity demand in the mornings and afternoons than the middle of the day, an east-west split of rooftop solar panels can be an effective way to increase self consumption of solar electricity.
From around the 21st of December to the 26th of January, thanks to daylight savings time, the sun doesn’t set until after 8:00 pm in Newcastle. This is paritcularly beneficial for powering air conditioners in the late afternoon with solar electricity, especially when using west or north-west facing panels.
Newcastle’s leafiest suburbs are the most likely locations where trees will shade roofs for a portion of the day, especially in winter when shadows are longer. The use of microinverters or DC optimisers can help limit the loss of solar panel output caused by shading.
Getting The Most Out Of The “Solar Rebate”
Many households and business can benefit from solar installations where the solar panels have a total capacity greater than that of their inverter. This will result in loss of output from the solar panels when the sky is clear and the sun is high in the sky, but will result in greater output when the sun is low or skies are overcast. This means smoother production of solar electricity through the day, which can help increase a household’s self consumption and improve the economic payback of rooftop solar.
A rooftop solar system’s total panel capacity can be up to one third larger than the size of its inverter and still receive the full amount of STCs; which lower the cost of installing solar - this is popularly known as the "solar rebate". While technically it's not a rebate, many people call it that anyway. The solar rebate is reduced on the first of January each year until it ends in 2030, so the earlier a system is installed, the greater the rebate - however, don't make a rushed purchase decision. Bear in mind solar panels and other components are generally dropping in price.
In Newcastle, the maximum system size allowed is determined by size of the inverter which must be less than 5 kilowatts for a home with single phase power. However, the total capacity of the solar panels can exceed this and be 5 kilowatts or greater. So a Newcastle home with single phase power could install a 4.2 kilowatt inverter with 5.6 kilowatts of solar panels.
Upgrading Electricity Meters For Solar Power
An import/export electricity meter will need to be installed when a rooftop solar power sysetm is added to a home.
For homes with older switchboards containing fuses rather than circuit breakers, these will need to be upgraded and potentially cost $1,400 or more.
Rooftop Solar And Emissions
As Newcastle is Australia’s largest coal port, people there are probably very aware that the large majority of NSW’s electricity is generated from coal. Solar electricity generated in Newcastle will mostly displace black coal generation in NSW, along with a smaller amount of natural gas generation. This makes rooftop solar in Newcastle very effective at reducing greenhouse gas emissions.
The Electricity Grid In Newcastle
The high voltage, long distance transmission lines that deliver grid electricity to Newcastle are managed by Transgrid. The low voltage distribution of grid electricity to homes and businesses in Newcastle is carried out by the network operator, Ausgrid.