Solar policy being forced by people power?

people cheering for solar

I’ll tell you what we want, what we really, really want. Solar!

As solar policy gets pushed around from pillar to post in Canberra and the state capitals, it’s good to know the real decision makers — the Australian people — support the concept in a big way.

This week saw the release of a CSIRO study — funded by the Australian Solar Institute for the Australian Photovoltaic Association — which indicated huge support from Aussies for domestic solar electricity despite almost nationwide cuts to feed-in tariff incentives for rooftop solar.

“The survey results indicated that overall, there is general support by householders to participate in the distributed energy market, particularly through the installation of solar hot water heaters, solar photovoltaic systems connected to the grid for energy generation and with battery backup,” said the report.

Obviously Aussies know when they’re onto a good thing even if their shiny-bottomed elected representatives don’t!

While this is unsurprising for many readers (after all isn’t Australia one of the highest developing rates of rooftop solar) the question has always been how long before our time serving pollies realise the inevitable and start supporting Australian solar. More than that readers…how about Canberra and the other state capitals setting Aussie solar energy as the basis for the country being a leading renewable energy leader in the world?

Solar electricity and Prof. David Suzuki

Forgive me readers while I bang on a little on a favourite theme: that of solar electricity policy being driven by a bunch of knuckle-dragging followers rather than leaders. I recall going to a talk given by Prof. David Suzuki, the great Canadian environmentalist (and solar electricity fan), where this issue was raised. Having just jumped off the plane from a cold and cloudy Canada and flown across our sunny wide brown land, the Great Man asked the rhetorical question: why isn’t every Australian house covered in solar panels?

This was over a decade ago and things have changed since then of course. However the point must be made that the phenomenal take up of domestic solar has been driven by individuals and households. Ordinary Aussies. Which begs the question: will solar electricity policy be driven by people power?

A recent article in (of all places) Stock Journal makes the point that phasing out fossil fuel in favour of solar electricity (and other renewable forms of energy) wouldn’t take much. The article — well worth a read folks — quotes Prof. Ken Baldwin, director of ANU’s Energy Change Institute as saying fossil fuel could be phased out by 2040 if the current rate of solar electricity were to be doubled. This in addition to other forms of renewable energy.

Will solar electricity policy be driven by good ole Aussie people power? Your thoughts, as always, are welcome either here or over at our Facebook Page.

Comments

  1. A national policy is overdue. Differences state-to-state mean that conservative governments mimic each other in cutting back the financial benefits to homeowners and lessors.

  2. There is talk in Qld about doing away with the generous feed back tariffs and subsidies. While I suppose that is economically wise, during those generous times huge numbers of homes and businesses were fitted with solar PV systems. Now that the subsidies are off in Victoria, and feed-back tariffs are only 8 cents per kw/hr there is a surplus of solar equipment in the warehouses, and good discounts apply to new systems. Without generous feed-back tariffs, our commercial system, 56 panels, is more than paying for itself, and insulating us from future expected electricity rate rises.

    • In WA the state Liberal government has contracted these tariff rebates for ten years. Any attempt to dishonour such agreements would undoubtably result in a class action against the state. Having equipped most of our rentals with solar electricity systems, we’d be first-in-the-queue to ensure that these contracts are honoured.

  3. David Maddern says

    I think you are forgetting why Government got involved in the first place. It was to foster solar. And what has happened? It is now popular. I did door knocking for Origin and my impression from a lot of people was that people who have substantial solar are happier. Yet Land Agents say solar doesn’t change the value of a building. What price happiness?

    • DM: “…people who have substantial solar are happier. Yet Land Agents say solar doesn’t change the value of a building. What price happiness?” Well, our tenants are happy… and happy tenants look after properties… and stay longer. We’re also happy with depreciation schedules, which allow us to write-off the cost. More and more self-funded retirees like us aren’t concerned at all about ‘the value of a building’. We don’t intend to sell any of our rentals. Nor do we raise the rents of those who care for our homes. After a tenancy (not a lease) ends, we raise rents. We are able to pick-and-choose from l-o-n-g queues. Sheer poetry!~ 😀

  4. Actually the uptake of PV panels was because of the generous rebates given by Governments not because of any “Clean Green”reasons. Take away the subsidise and the high pay back tariffs and the Solar Companies fold one after the other or go into cut throat mode trying to stay in business. If you read through the posts you will see that money was the great motivator not any idea of helping the planet. Those who were lucky enough to get the 44c per kW should make the most of it as slowly that will be whittled down to a believable 8c per kW sooner than most people think either by putting those people on a higher tariff or government policy as it is unsustainable.

    • Interesting to note that BHP is dropping its coal imperative. Yes, money is a motivator for many. As the costs of fossil fuels rise, we’ll see more-and-more earth/air/sea-friendly initiatives. Checked the share price of Tesla, recently? Alternatives to dirty power aren’t just more intelligent solutions, they’ll gradually become the only economic solution, as voters reject the malice of FukushimaEnronic thinking… .

  5. From the day the panels were linked to the mains I have been paying a grand total of FIVE BUCKS for the use of electricity each month. What you earn from your feed back depends on the tariff. It should be kept at 50Cents per unit. Citizens get into the fight for your right

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