What Races Like the World Solar Challenge Mean for the Future

All eyes are on the victors and their vehicles as the Japanese solar car from Tokai University cruises over the finish line to take out the 2011 Darwin to Adelaide World Solar Challenge. Much like the Melbourne Cup, the winning teams and owners are interviewed, their conveyances hailed as wonders of the modern age and we all look forward to the next race. But then what?

Twenty years after the first World Solar Challenge, solar panels have yet to make it on our everyday cars in a meaningful and viable sense and we still rely heavily on fossil fuels for our transportation needs. However the rigours of the race, through some of the most inhospitable terrain on the planet, provides an excellent test for teams, who are sourced mostly from research institutions. Throughout the World Solar Challenge’s history it has flown the flag of sustainability and encouraged research into the future of alternative energy-driven vehicles.

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Carbon Tax: Between a Snog and a Hard Place

Unless you’ve taken up residence under a rock somewhere in one of our sun-bleached deserts, you’ll be aware that the House of Representatives successfully passed the government’s controversial carbon legislation earlier this week. The minority Gillard government punted the bills through the Lower House with the support of the Independents to the delight of renewable energy fans and the disgust of the Opposition Leader Alan Jones Tony Abbott. [Read more…]

Large-Scale vs Domestic: Where Should the Dosh Go?

The federal government has been accused of dragging its feet on solar energy (and renewable energy in general) in comparison to more dynamic regions such as North Asia, Europe and the United States. Innovative and well-targeted government support in these countries has seen the increased takeup of solar power and a boom in their respective solar industries.

However, one feels our overworked and underpaid elected reps (bless ‘em) would be up in arms at the suggestion of neglect of solar initiatives and would point to the key area of the federal Solar Flagships program as proof of this. [Read more…]

Carbon Tax and Government Support – the Other Side of the Coin

Last week we examined the point of view of academic Mark Diesendorf who stated that the much villified carbon tax will probably be insufficient to encourage renewable energy investment in Australia. This week we look at the opposing view and find that overseas renewable energy companies are indeed putting their hands in their pockets to fund renewable energy schemes in Australia, particularly those looking at exploiting our abundant sun.

These companies are looking at taking advantage of the positive renewable funding climate in our country, support which is expected to be funded through revenue supplied by the contentious carbon tax. [Read more…]

Will the Carbon Tax Boost Large-Scale Solar Projects?

The debate over whether or not a carbon tax will be effective has split families, pitched neighbour against neighbour, divided loyalties and torn our nation asunder.

Well not exactly, but a real blockbusting start to this week’s column you have to admit!

On a serious note, the question many SolarQuotes readers would like answered about the carbon tax goes something like the following. Will the carbon tax (assuming the legislation is passed) bring any benefit to the solar power industry in Australia? [Read more…]

Clean Energy Council Puts Roadmap in Government’s Solar Glovebox

By Rich Bowden

Mirror, mirror on the wall who’s got the most sunshine of them all?

It’s a no-brainer right?

Australia is one of the most blessed countries in the world with regard to availability of solar power and solar intensity. We, along with the United States, are considered to have the greatest potential for the exploitation of solar energy in the world. So why has domestic policy not taken advantage of this? Why are governments, both state and federal, backpedalling from supporting solar energy initiatives?

This was the conundrum most recently outlined by the Clean Energy Council in their report released last week in their (unimaginatively named) Large scale< Solar Energy Roadmap).

“Australia has the highest average solar radiation per square meter of any continent in the world, yet to date we have not capitalised on the potential benefits of large-scale solar,” said the report. “The uptake and deployment of solar energy technologies globally remains dependant largely on domestic policy settings.” [Read more…]

Is WA’s Support of Solar Utilities at the Expense of Domestic Projects?

When we think of Western Australia we generally consider mining booms, expanded gas projects, black swans and the West Coast Eagles football team (and Dennis Lillee and Rod Marsh for those of us with age on our side).

But as an Australian leader in solar technology? After a recent government decision to close down its solar feed in tariff scheme because of its (wait for it) popularity, the expected answer would generally be no. However recent developments in the West have shown government-owned corporations partnering up with the private sector to lead the state down the path of potentially being one of the country’s leading exponents of renewable energy.

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Japan Looks to Renewables in Wake of Nuclear Disaster

By Rich Bowden

All eyes are on the Land of the Rising Sun as the country, still reeling from the effects of the March 11 Fukushima nuclear disaster, looks to build a renewable energy future to reshape its energy needs.

Prime Minister Naoto Kan (soon to be former Prime Minister Naoto Kan) has, in the time-honoured Japanese way, offered his resignation in the wake of criticism of his handling of the Fukushima nuclear meltdown, but not before he shepherds through vital legislation through the Diet (Parliament).

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Subsidies in Frame as Silex Ends Local Solar Cell Manufacture

By Rich Bowden

Solar industry news in NSW this week has been dominated by the announcement by Silex Solar, the last company to manufacture solar cells in this country, that it will discontinue the production of locally made cells. (Note the solar cells are the black, round, saucer sized, plates of silicon, which make up solar panels).

In an announcement earlier this week, the company said while it would continue to manufacture solar panels at its Homebush, Sydney plant, it would do so with solar cells from an as yet unnamed overseas country (read China). [Read more…]

China Plan To Whip Australia’s Ass in Domestic Solar Investment

Whilst many Australian state governments dither over the solar feed-in-tariff (FIT) issue, China has come charging out of the changing sheds recently with a brand new, highly-polished, national feed-in-tariff system.

They are kicking the world’s ass when it comes to high value manufacturing (where was your iPad made?) and now it looks like they are serious about installing solar power domestically. [Read more…]