Solar energy


Solar power systems

The idea of installing a solar system is growing in popularity but with any big investment it’s important to get the right advice and understand the different types of systems available. You need to be sure of what is going to suit your particular home and lifestyle to get the most out of it.

As of November 2014, more than 1.3 million Australian homes are harnessing the sun’s energy with solar power systems - creating clean electricity.*


What is Solar Power

Energy from the sun can be captured and used in two different ways: as heat energy or as light energy. Solar power systems use photovoltaic (PV) technology to convert the sun’s light energy into electricity. Solar power systems can be connected to the electricity grid, to batteries or both (called a hybrid solar power system). Most homes with solar power systems are connected to the electricity grid and any excess solar electricity that is not used in the home at that time is exported to the grid.


These days there are a number of purchasing options for powering your home with solar. You can buy the system upfront, through a financing arrangement or lease a system to enjoy the benefits without the upfront cost or risk.

Where to start?

The Clean Energy Council’s Guide to installing solar PV for households is an excellent place to start. Topics covered in the guide include:

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

SunSpot solar mapping tool 

Do you want to know the solar potential of your home?

The SunSpot - solar mapping tool was developed in partnership with UNSW and will help you estimate the amount of energy that various sized solar PV systems will generate if installed on your roof. It takes into account shadows, orientation and tilt of the roof, giving you a complete picture of how much you could save on your power bills.

Do I need Council approval?

Council’s approval will not be required if the installation meets all the criteria for an Exempt Development specified by the State Environmental Planning Policy (Infrastructure) 2007 (SEPP Infrastructure). The policy defines ‘solar energy systems’ as any of the following systems:
(a) a photovoltaic electricity generating system;
(b) a solar hot water system;
(c) a solar air heating system.

To find out if your solar energy system can be classified as an exempt development, refer to Clause 39 (3) of the SEPP Infrastructure.

Note: The SEPP Infrastructure defines a ‘prescribed residential zone’ as meaning any of the following land use zones or a land use zone that is equivalent to any of those zones: (a)  Zone R1 General Residential, (b)  Zone R2 Low Density Residential, (c)  Zone R3 Medium Density Residential, (d)  Zone R4 High Density Residential, (e)  Zone R5 Large Lot Residential, (f)  Zone RU5 Village.

Note: To find out the zoning of your property and if your property is a heritage item and/or within a heritage conservation area, refer to our online mapping tool. Click ‘Search’ to look up your property on the map – for zoning, select Maps > Planning > Planning Zones; for heritage, select Maps > Planning > Heritage. Alternatively, apply online for a s149(2) Planning Certificate from Council.

If you need any further information on approval pathways, you can contact Council’s Duty Planner on 9424 0000. Council holds regular talks on solar and battery storage. Click here if you would like to find out more or register for our upcoming sustainability events.

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