Enabling change in our Society, Environment and Economy (SEE)

Solar Energy Overview

SEE-Change is not planning a solar bulk buy in the near future – but if you are interested in becoming involved with one, please contact us.

Solar Energy

There are two types of solar system which are used on houses. Firstly there are solar water heating systems. These are not discussed in this article.

Second, there are rooftop solar electric systems, comprising photovoltaic [PV] panels [sometimes called modules]. These panels produce direct current [DC] electricity when the sun is shining on them. This is converted into alternating current [AC] electricity by an electronic device called an inverter. The resulting 240 volt electricity can either be used in the house or fed back to the local electricity grid. Most systems feed the electricity back to the grid during the day and take electricity from the grid at night or when there are clouds.

Both federal and state and territory governments recognise the environmental benefits of producing electricity without releasing the greenhouse gases produced when fossil fuels [generally coal] are burnt in power stations.

Consequently governments have been offering rebates to consumers who install such systems.

A rooftop PV system produces Renewable Energy Certificates (RECs) dependent on how much electricity it produces on an annual basis. The amount of electricity depends on two main factors:

  • Size – the larger the system the more electricity it will produce, and
  • How much sun falls on the PV panels. This, in turn, depends on the location of the system; the sunnier the location the greater output the panels will have, and on the orientation [which way they are facing] and the inclination [tilt] of the panels.

There are other factors too, but these are the main ones.

The amount of electricity a system produces is measured in kilowatt hours [kWh, 1 kWh = 1,000 Wh] or megawatt hours [MWh, 1 MWh = 1,000,000 Wh]. Over time a system will produce more and more electricity. Over a year it may produce several MWh of electricity.

One REC is equivalent to 1 MWh of electricity per year.

For more information about RECs visit: www.cleanenergyregulator.gov.au/OSR/REC/The-REC-Registry

With thanks to our


  • ACT Government Environment and Planning
  • The Association of Independent Schools of the ACT (AISACT)
  • Catholic Education Office (Archdiocese of Canberra and Goulburn)
  • Education and Training Directorate
  • ACT Government