solar panels

How to create STCs for small-scale solar, wind, and hydro systems

This guide explains how to create small-scale technology certificates (STCs), so that you can sell and trade them yourself via the online REC Registry.

Use this information if you wish to create STCs for eligible installations of the following:

  • Small-scale solar panel systems
  • Small-scale wind systems
  • Small-scale hydro systems
Before you start:
  • Small-scale technology certificates (STCs) are not a rebate, and completing this creation process is not an application for a Government rebate. You will not qualify for any Government-based financial recompense at the completion of this process.
  • Creating STCs for sale can be complex and has significant administrative requirements, legal implications, and may involve fees.
  • If you require rapid financial recompense for your certificates, or a simpler process, please contact an Agent who can organise the creation and sale of your certificates.
  • If you decide to follow the process below, be aware you will be required to:
    • Pay full price for your system;
    • Organise the installation of your system, ensuring it is compliant with the Renewable Energy Electricity Act 2000 and associated Regulations;
    • Create the STCs in the REC Registry;
    • Find a buyer for your STCs (including using the STC Clearing House)
    • Manage payment for the STCs.
  • The Clean Energy Regulator cannot manage any of these processes for you, and cannot intervene in any process outside of STC creation.  It can provide advice only.

Are you looking for:

When can you create small-scale technology certificates (STCs)?

In summary

 Your system must comply with all the requirements listed below in order to be eligible for STCs.

If you have installed an eligible system

A new solar panel system is eligible if:

  • The system is installed correctly by a Clean Energy Council installer.
  • All the components of the installed system are new.
  • Solar panel modules must use components meeting AS AS/NZS 5033 Compliant PV Modules.  A list of compliant panels is available at the Clean Energy Council website.  
  • Grid-connect inverters must be listed in the Clean Energy Council list of approved inverters.
  • The system and installation complies with Australian and New Zealand standards.
  • The system complies with all local, State and Federal requirements for the type of installation.
  • The solar panel system has a capacity of no more than 100 kW and has a total annual electricity output less than 250 Mwh. If your system is larger it will be classified as a power station and will need to be accredited as a power station in order to be eligible for LGCs. Visit RET Power Stations.
  • The STCs are created within 12 months of the installation date. If you choose to go through an Agent they will create the STCs on your behalf.

You must be the owner of the system at the time it is installed to be entitled to assign or create STCs. In some circumstances, where the solar panels are installed in new buildings, the owner can be the builder or property developer. 

Your system must comply with the following requirements in order to be eligible for STCs.

Unity type Unit capacity and annual electricity output Installation periods
Solar PV units No more than 100 kW and a total annual electricity output less than 250 MWh On or after 14 November 2005
Solar PV units No more than 10 kW  and a total annual electricity output less than 25 MWh Between 1 April 2001 and 13 November 2005
Small wind turbines No more than 10 kW and a total annual electricity output less than 25 MWh On or after 1 April 2001
Hydroelectric units No more than 6.4 kW and a total annual electricity output less than 25 MWh On or after 1 April 2001

When you are the owner of the installed system.

  • You must be the owner of the system at the time it is installed to be entitled to assign or create STCs.
  • In some circumstances where the system is installed in a new building, the owner can be the builder or property developer of the building, rather than the eventual house owner.

Check ownership of the system before you create STCs.

Within 12 months of the installation of the system.

  • STCs must be created and registered within 12 months of the installation date.
  • If the system was installed on or before 31 December 2010 it will generate Large-scale Generation Certificates (LGCs) when registered in the REC Registry.  LGCs must be traded on the open market and you may wish to consider assigning your certificates to an Agent instead.

Where you have not assigned your STCs to a Registered Agent/Retailer

  • You cannot create STCs if you have already assigned them to an Agent.  Most retailers and some installers of systems are registered to act as Agents.
  • If you have signed an STC Assignment Form and supplied it to a retailer, installer, or someone else connected with your system, you may already have assigned your STCs.  Contact them to check before using this process.
  • Most advertised discounts on the price of purchase and/or installation of water systems will be based around STC assignment.   
  • You may need to inform your supplier/s that they will not be assigned the STCs against the system when you make your purchase.

When your system is not a power station

Your system must comply with the following requirements in order to be eligible for STCs.

If it is larger than any of the listed options, your installation is classified as a renewable energy power station. You must register as a RET Power Station to create LGCs against the system.

Note that this includes the installation of additional capacity to an existing system, which may make the new combined system greater than the listed option.

Unity type Unit capacity and annual electricity output Installation periods
Solar PV units No more than 100 kW and a total annual electricity output less than 250 MWh On or after 14 November 2005
Solar PV units No more than 10 kW  and a total annual electricity output less than 25 MWh Between 1 April 2001 and 13 November 2005
Small wind turbines No more than 10 kW and a total annual electricity output less than 25 MWh On or after 1 April 2001
Hydroelectric units No more than 6.4 kW and a total annual electricity output less than 25 MWh On or after 1 April 2001

What does it mean if it’s a power station?

  • As a RET power station owner, you are eligible to create LGCs against some of the power generated by the system. 
  • If you have added capacity which makes your small-scale system into a power station, you are not eligible to create STCs for the new part of the system.
  • You may apply for accreditation of the complete system as a RET power station. 
  • Information on the RET power station accreditation process is available on the RET power stations page.
  • LGCs may not be created for electricity generated by that part of the RET power station that was the original small-scale system, as the original part will already have had STCs (or RECs) claimed for it.
  • You will need to calculate the proportion of the electricity generated by the original small-scale system and deduct it from the total electricity generated, and only claim LGCs on the subsequent amount.

When the system has been completely and correctly installed

  • Completely installed means:
    • All parts of the system are installed and demonstrated to be capable of producing electricity. This includes the correct mounting of the solar panels/turbine, the completion of all of the DC wiring between the panels/turbine and the inverter/regulator, and the mounting/connecting of any other parts that are required to produce electricity.
    • For grid-connected small-scale solar panel, wind, and hydro systems, the inverter does not need to be connected to a meter or main-grid to be considered installed.
  • Correctly installed means:
    • All installers are correctly registered and accredited (see below).
    • All required compliance documentation has been complied with and signed (see below).

For each deemed period of your system

  • STCs may be created for small-scale solar panel, wind, or hydro systems in batches of 1, 5 or 15 year deeming periods, depending on the particular installation. 
  • A majority of owners choose to opt for the maximum deeming period to claim the maximum number of STCs.
  • STCs may be created for solar panel (photovoltaic) systems either:
    • annually; or
    • on installation for the first 5 years after installation (the deeming period) and then at the start of each subsequent 5 year deeming period; or
    • on installation for 15 years (the deeming period), after which no further STCs may be created.
  • STCs may be created for wind and hydro systems either:
    • annually; or
    • on installation for the first 5 years after the installation (the deeming period) and then at the start of each subsequent 5 year deeming period.

When your installer is correctly registered and accredited.

  • Agents must be registered with the Clean Energy Regulator in order to have STCs assigned to them by householders.
  • Installers of small-scale solar panel, wind and hydro systems must be accredited by the Clean Energy Council for systems installed as listed:
Unit type Date of installation CEC accreditation required?
Solar PV units Before 20 August 2010

Yes, for 15 year deeming period

No, for 1 and 5 year deeming period

Solar PV units On or after 20 August 2010 Yes, for all deeming periods
Wind and hydro units Before 20 December 2010 Not required
Wind and hydro units On or after 20 December 2010 Yes, for all deeming periods
  • CEC accredited installers are required to:
    • Have public liability insurance worth at least five million dollars (Australian).
    • Be bound by, and comply with, the CEC Code of Conduct in the installation of the solar panel, wind or hydro system.
    • Ensure that the installation has all applicable local and State/Territory Government approval requirements.
    • Ensure that the solar panel, wind or hydro system and its installation, including wiring, meets relevant Australian and International Standards, and that key components (such as the inverter, for grid-connected systems) are listed on the Clean Energy Council’s list of approved products.
    • Ensure that the mounting and orientation of the system are in line with the Clean Energy Council accreditation requirements.
    • Supply all relevant documentation to certify correct installation of the system.
    • Comply with the Regulated requirements for installation of the SGU, by signing suitable compliance paperwork.  
    • Samples of required documentation can be found at Assignment and Compliance Documents.

When all the documentation has been supplied and signed.

Sample documentation to use can be found at Assignment and Compliance Documents.

Systems installed on or after the below dates require compliance documentation to be signed before you can create STCs in the REC Registry.

  • PV Solar installations between 20 August 2010 and 1 November, 2010
  • Hydro and wind installations on or after 20 December 2010
  • All installations after 1 January 2011

This documentation must be signed by your system’s designer and/or installers, as specified on the forms.

Documents must contain:

  • Statement of installer's CEC accreditation 
  • Statement certifying that the installer holds $5million in liability insurance.
  • Installer’s electrician’s licence. The electrical wiring associated with grid-connected installation of the unit must be undertaken by an electrical worker holding an unrestricted licence for electrical work issued by the State or Territory authority for the place where the unit was installed.
  • Site and grid connected written statement. Either the installer or the owner must sign a statement that all required local and state/territory approvals have been met for:
    • The siting of the unit;
    • The attachment of the unit to the building or structure (if the unit is attached); and
    • The grid connection of the system (if it is grid connected).
  • Unit design and installation statement.  A signed and written statement that includes the name of the designer and the installer of the unit, and their CEC classification and accreditation number.
  • Electrical compliance documentation for the relevant jurisdiction.  Obtain from the installer a copy of any documentation required, by the laws of the jurisdiction in which the unit was installed, certifying that the electrical installation of the unit complies with laws relating to safety and technical standards. This could be in the form of a Certificate of Compliance, Installation Report and Electrician’s Licence.
  • Off-grid electrical compliance documentation.  A written statement is required from the installer of an off-grid installation if the wiring for the unit involves an alternating current of 50 or more volts and/or a direct current of 120 or more volts. The statement must confirm:
    • The unit is off grid; and
    • An electrical worker holding an unrestricted licence for electrical work issued by the State or Territory Authority for the place where the unit was installed undertook all wiring of the unit that involves:
      •  alternating current of 50 or more volts; or
      • :direct current of 120 or more volts.
  • On-site statement.  A written and signed statement that the installer/supervisor has physically attended the installation made in their name.  This statement should be signed by the owner to certify physical attendance.
  • Out-of-pocket expenses documentation.  All documentation that supports the figure supplied as the final out-of-pocket expense of the SGU to the owner.
  • Any other statements contained in the sample written compliance statements as they are updated from time to time.

Additional documentation - Australian Standards

Small-scale solar installations on or after 1 November, 2010, and hydro and wind installations on or after 20 December 2010, require additional documentation certifying that specific Australian/New Zealand Standards relating to installation of small-scale generation systems have been adhered to.  

The Standards required for an installation are the versions in force at the time of installation.

The relevant Standards are:

  • AS/NZS 3000 Wiring Rules
  • AS/NZS 1768 Lightning Protection
  • AS/NZS 5033 Installation of photovoltaic (PV) arrays
  • AS/NZS 1170.2 Structural design actions, Part 2: Wind actions
  • AS/NZS 5033 Compliant PV modules
  • Tested and Approved Grid Connected Inverters
  • AS/NZS: 4509.1 Stand-alone power systems, Part 1: Safety and Installation
  • AS 4086.2 Secondary batteries for use with standard-alone power systems, Part 2: Installation and Maintenance

There are sample written compliance statements on the Clean Energy Regulator website which will ensure you get all the relevant signatures required for your installation.

When you have calculated the out-of-pocket expenses

How to calculate the Out-of-Pocket expenses when creating STCs for small-scale solar panel, wind, or hydro systems.

Background

From 1 February 2011, a registered person (including Agents) cannot create certificates for a small-scale solar panel, wind or hydro system until they provide information on the total out of pocket expenses (including GST) that the owner of the system incurred in purchasing and installing the system.

The purpose of this requirement is to ensure ongoing transparency around the level of out-of-pocket expenses for rooftop solar PV systems and other systems that receive additional support through Solar Credits.

The Regulator will publish aggregated data on the out-of-pocket expenses incurred for small-scale solar panel, wind or hydro systems on the RET pages of the Clean Energy Regulator website after the end of each quarter.

The Clean Energy Regulator can and does audit out-of-pocket expense amounts.  Registered persons and agents are expected to retain all relevant paperwork (such as invoices, contracts, receipts, statements, etc) to demonstrate how they arrived at the supplied figure. If The Clean Energy Regulator asks the registered person to supply documentation and it cannot be supplied, certificates can be failed and must be re-submitted.

Failure to comply with the regulations can result in penalties and prosecution where warranted.

Formula

Total out–of–pocket expense (OE) is calculated using the formula: 

OE      =          (Amount A  +  Amount B)  –  (Amount C  +  Amount D  +  Amount E)

Term Meaning Examples

OE

The total out–of–pocket expense amount

$X000

Amount A

The total amount (or reasonable estimate where there is not a separate arms-length retail transaction), paid by the purchaser (ie the homeowner or property owner) for:

  • the system itself
  • for installation of the unit
  • for all costs incurred for attachment of the unit to its location
  • costs incurred for connection of the unit to the grid.

The total contract price for the company to purchase, install and connect an SGU to the grid, to the point where the SGU can generate electricity and have that correctly metered.

OR

A reasonable estimate of the cost to install and connect an SGU to the grid, which is derived from the construction cost to build a new home with an SGU as the main energy course.

OR

The bundled cost of a suite of energy efficiency and renewable energy products sold as a single ‘package’.

Amount A will include:

  • the costs associated with connecting the system to a grid
  • the cost of purchasing generating equipment for the unit
  • structures and materials to attach the unit to a property
  • metering and wiring associated with connecting the unit to the property
  • batteries that store the electricity generated by the unit
  • associated wiring and equipment.

Amount B

A reasonable estimate of any money that the purchaser (for eg, the homeowner) of the SGU will pay to the seller (for eg, the Agent) after it is installed, but not included in the first amount.

Payment by the customer to the Agent in monthly instalments for any period of time after the SGU installation is completed.

This amount does not include the market value of the certificates (see Amount E for this).

Amount C

A reasonable estimate of the market value of any additional services or goods provided in relation to the acquisition or installation to the owner of the SGU for no additional charge.

The supply of a free energy audit.

The supply of a free LCD television.

“A free set of steak knives”.

Amount D

A reasonable estimate of the difference between the market value of any services or goods supplied in “Amount C” and the non–market price paid.

An energy audit worth $200 could be supplied at $50.  Amount D will therefore be $150.

An LCD TV worth $2300 could be supplied at $500.  Amount D will therefore be $1800.

Amount E

A reasonable estimate of any amount paid, or to be paid, to the purchaser by any other third party (including the Government) that is not the owner or purchaser, after the unit has been purchased.

This includes the value of the STCs related to the SGU and assigned to the Registered Person. 

The full value of any local, State or Federal rebates provided against the SGU installation.

PLUS

The value of STCs as determined in the Contract signed by the customer (if STCs are assigned to an Agent) or as determined by the owner of the STCs (either market value at point of sale, or $40/STC through the STC Clearing House).

Amount E must be factored in to the calculation even if it is not yet received (for eg, if the STCs are to be added to the STC Clearing House after creation, for later purchase).

Amount E does not include the monetary value of any feed-in tariff offered to the purchaser.

Related information:

When you have registered in the REC Registry

You must have a REC Registry account in order to create STCs.  This account must be a Registered Person's account as a minimum. 

With a Registered Person account you can:

  • create LGCs and STCs for an installation that you own.
  • transfer LGCs and STCs in the REC Registry.
  • voluntarily surrender LGCs and STCs in the REC Registry.
  • proceed to register as an Agent or Power Station if desired/required.

Note: Small-scale solar panel, wind or hydro systems are referred to Small Generation Units (SGUs) in the REC Registry.

This account requires you to:

  • fit the criteria of being a Legal Person.
  • register in the REC Registry.
  • be aware of the eligibility requirements for creating STCs for solar water heaters, heat pumps and small-scale solar panels, wind or hydro systems prior to registration. 
  • be aware of penalties involved in breaching the Renewable Energy (Electricity) Act 2000. See the Compliance page for further information.
  • be aware of your right to be able to assign LGCs/STCs to an Agent if you wish.
  • pay a non-refundable registration fee of $20.  This fee is GST exempt.
  • complete the Proof of Identity verification process (online applications only).

If you are an Agent, please see How to Register as an Agent for additional registration requirements.

If you need to register, please go to the Account Wizard.

How many STCs will I get?

STCs may be created for small-scale solar panel, wind or hydro systems in batches, for 1, 5 or 15 year deeming periods, depending on the particular installation. A majority of owners choose to opt for the maximum deeming period to claim the maximum number of STCs.

  • The quick way is to use the Small Generation Unit Calculator. Small-scale solar panel, wind or hydro systems are called Small Generation Units in the REC Registry.
  • You can also use the detailed calculations in the STC Calculations publication to precisely calculate the number of STCs for your system.  It contains separate calculations for solar panel, wind, and hydro systems.
  • Please note that for solar panel systems, STC entitlement is based on the rated output of the panels, unless the inverter is rated less than the panels.

Please note:

  • Regulation 20 (1)(b) of the Act requires the rated kilowatts-peak (kWp) of the system is to be used to determine the number of certificates a solar PV system is entitled to.
  • In the case where the rated output of PV array is equal to or less than the peak rated output of the inverter, then the rated output of the panels is to be used.
  • In the case where the rated output of the PV array is greater than the peak rated output of the inverter, then to be eligible for certificates the system must comply with the recommendations stated in the Clean Energy Council’s Grid-connect Design Guidelines
  • As per Regulation 20AC (5)(a)(iv) of the Act, any non-compliance with the CEC Code of Conduct (which includes all CEC guidelines) will be seen as an improper creation of certificates and may be failed.
  • The Clean Energy Regulator regularly monitors and enforces the above guidelines.

What is their value?

  1. To determine the approximate worth of your STCs, search for STC traders on the Web to find the going price of an STC (this fluctuates daily).  
  2. You can also use the fixed STC price of $40/STC used by the STC Clearing House but there are no guarantees on when STCs sold through the Clearing House will actually clear, and you may not receive that price when selling your STCs.
  3. Multiply the number of STCs a system is worth by the going price.  Remember this price is approximate only, and will depend on where, how and when you sell your STCs.

How to install an eligible system

  1. Determine the system that meets your power and financial needs.
  2.  Check compliance, eligibility, and deeming periods against “When can you create STCs?”.
  3. Purchase and install the system. 
    • Ensure suppliers and installers are aware you will be retaining the STCs.
    • Ensure quotes for supply and installation do not include discounts against assignment of STCs.
    • Do not sign an “STC Assignment Form” or any forms stating that you will assign STCs after the system is installed.
  4. Complete any required documentation.
  5. Calculate the number of STCs to be created, using the SGU STC Calculator.

You are now ready to register in the REC Registry and create your STCs. You can do this by using the Account Wizard.

How to create STCs in the REC Registry

Before you start

  • Complete the Account Wizard.
  • Have a current REC Registry login with the correct access to create STCs  (a Registered Person account as a minimum).
  • Have required information on-hand:
    • Type of unit - solar, wind, hydro
    • Unit brand
    • Unit model
    • Panel serial numbers (solar only)
    • Number of panels (solar only)
    • Equipment module serial number (wind and hydro only)
    • Resource availability (wind and hydro only)
    • Rated power output (in kW)
    • Installation date
    • Installation address
    • Installer's details
    • Owner's details
    • Out-of-pocket expenses

Process

Please note that the REC Registry uses the acronym “SGU”, which stands for “Small Generation Units”.  This includes all small-scale solar panel, wind, and hydro systems.

  1. Open the REC Registry.

  2. Enter your username and password and press “Login”.   Your REC Registry page Account Summary will display.

  3. From the menu, select “My Small Generation Units” -->Register SGU Installation”.

  4. The first page of the registration process will open:

  5. Fill out all the fields.  Ensure fields marked with a red asterisk (*) are completed.
  6. NOTE: if your installation date is prior to 1 January 2011, the certificates will be created as LGCs.  This is automatic. 
  7. Click “Continue” to move to the next screen, or “Save draft” if you need to save the registration for later completion.   
  8. The "Installation Safety Compliance" screen will display:

  9. Select the correct options for your installation.  This information match with the signatures and details supplied on the Written Compliance Form.  
  10. Click “Continue” to move to the next screen, or “Save draft” if you need to save the registration for later completion.   
  11. The “Comments or Additional Information” screen will display:

  12. Complete address details.  Ensure:
    1. The town is correctly spelt, and that it matches the supplied postcode and state. 
    2. The REC Registry cross-checks this information and will reject Town/Postcode/State information that doesn’t match.
    3. All fields marked with a red asterisk (*) are completed.
  13. Click “Continue” to move to the next screen, or “Save draft” if you need to save the registration for later completion.   
  14. The "Register SGU confirmation" screen will display:

  15. Review the information and make sure it is correct. 
  16. If you make an error in submitting the STCs at this stage, they will have to be invalidated and the forms re-submitted.
  17. NOTE: If you are registering a system installed prior to 1 January 2011, you will see the following:
  18. Click the checkbox next to “I have read the above terms and conditions and am aware it is a crime to provide false or misleading information”.
  19. Click “Create STCs”.  This submits the request to create the number of STCs listed under “STC Creation Details”.
  20. You will see an information box confirming submission of your registration:

  21. Your STCs are now listed under “Pending Audit” on your Account Summary page:

  22. The STCs will first be validated by the Clean Energy Regulator.  This process can take up to four weeks.
  23. Once they are validated:
    1. If you have not created more than 250 STCs, they will go straight into your STC holdings.
    2. If you have created more than 250 STCs, you need to pay the 47c/STC processing fee before they can be placed in your holding.  See below.
  24. If certificates are failed, you will be informed via email.
  25. You can re-create the STCs as long as your system is eligible for STCs, as follows:
    1. Follow steps 1-6 above.
    2. At step 7, complete all fields.
    3. In the “Special address” field, add the failed accreditation code and a note informing the Auditors why the STCs were originally failed.
    4. Continue to submit STCs.
    5. The Clean Energy Regulator will validate the certificates within four weeks.
    6. The Clean Energy Regulator may request additional documents to provide eligibility, such as:
      • location details
      • photographs
      • maps
      • Australian Business Number (ABN)
      • Ownership
      • occupancy
      • statutory declarations
      • rates notices
      • letters
      • any other information that could prove your system is eligible.
    7. Please see Failed Certificates for more information.

How to complete STC validation in the REC Registry

  1. STCs must be validated before they are available for sale/transfer.  While they are waiting, they are listed as “Pending registration” in the REC Registry.
    1. The first 250 certificates you create are free.  These will automatically appear in your account summary.
    2. Any certificates created after the first 250 require the payment of an 47c fee before the validation is complete.  
    3. Fees are not applied until the threshold is met.  
    4. When the threshold is met, fees apply to all created certificates, including the original batch created under the threshold.
  2. Where there are fees to be paid, they will be listed under "Pending Payment” in your account summary.
  3. Select “My Fees and Invoices" to view outstanding fee items.
  4. Select the appropriate outstanding fee items by clicking in its checkbox.
  5. Click “Create Invoice”.
  6. Go to “My Fees and Invoices” --> “View outstanding invoices”.
  7. View or print out the invoice to be paid.
  8. Go to “My Fees and Invoices” --> “Pay invoice by credit card”.
  9. Complete the credit card payment information and select “Submit”.
  10. The payment is processed and will appear under “My Fees and Invoices” --> “Payment history”.
  11. The STCs will be validated and appear in your account summary under “REC Holdings”.

 Information on REC Registry invoice payment methods and processes are available through the REC Registry help pages or by contacting the REC Registry helpdesk on 1800 159 724.

Date last updated: 04 Jul 2013