NSW Council Considering Compulsory Solar Panels

Compulsory solar panels - Shellharbour

Rooftop solar power systems could become a requirement on all new buildings and dwellings in the Shellharbour City local government area.

Shellharbour City LGA is situated in New South Wales’ Illawarra Region, about 100 kilometres south of Sydney’s CBD. Covering an area of around 147 square kilometres, it’s home to a population of approximately 74,000 people.

In December 2020, Shellharbour City Council committed to set net zero emissions targets for 2050 for both operational and community emissions within the City. Prior to this, Council joined the Cities Power Partnership in 2018. Among its CPP pledges is the installation of solar power system on Council buildings.

Last year, it became the second regional Council in Australia to join the Solar my School program, an initiative that makes it easier for schools to go solar by providing free independent expert advice and support from start to finish.

At last night’s Council meeting, a motion was tabled by Cr Robert Petreski and Cr Maree Edwards seeking to engage Council officers in undertaking an investigation and to prepare a report on the potential requirement for solar panels on new builds, including cost impacts compared to the long-term energy cost savings and projected city- wide carbon emissions reduction figures.

The Councillors said the requirement would further reduce the LGA’s carbon footprint and aid in its net zero target and Cities Power Partnership pledges.

The Illawarra Mercury reports councillors unanimously passed the motion calling for the report.

Back in 2018, a report from the Australian Sustainable Built Environment Council (ASBEC) and ClimateWorks Australia recommended solar panels or other renewables be compulsory for new homes built in Australia, stating this would help slash energy bills, network investment and emissions.

Is Council Leading By Example?

Australian local governments have done a lot of heavy lifting in promoting solar energy uptake within their respective communities through providing information, but also through leading by example with their own PV installations.

As for how Shellharbour Council stacks up, it mentions last year it completed solar panel installations at a number of facilities, including:

  • Myimbarr Sports Centre
  • Shellharbour Links Golf Club
  • Shellharbour Tourist Park
  • Warilla Library
  • Shellharbour City Stadium
  • Alunga Childcare Centre
  • Wallaroo Childcare Centre

Total capacity wasn’t noted, but combined the systems are expected to save more than $50,000 in annual energy costs and provide a carbon reduction of 209 tonnes per year.

Solar Energy In Shellharbour

The Australian Photovoltaic Institute (APVI) indicates that as at the end of last year, there had been approximately 8,288 installations in the Shellharbour LGA, with around 28% of compatible dwellings having solar systems installed. The vast majority of installations have been under 10kW capacity (7,734).

According to SQ’s solar calculator (using the default settings), simple payback on a 6.6kW system in the Shellharbour area can be achieved in around 5 years.

The largest installations in the Shellharbour region are noted by APVI as Warilla Bowls & Recreation Club (314kW), Shellharbour Square (1.2MW) and Shell Cove Shopping Centre (314kW).

Learn more about solar panels in Shellharbour.

About Michael Bloch

Michael caught the solar power bug after purchasing components to cobble together a small off-grid PV system in 2008. He's been reporting on Australian and international solar energy news ever since.

Comments

  1. So let’s slap solar PV on any roof irrespective of whether it makes sense or not? Idiots.

    Far better for them to focus on improving thermal performance standards of homes and other energy efficiency measures.

    By far the best contributor to emissions reduction is not consuming energy in the first place.

  2. I would love to see how this worked in practice.
    I wonder if the council would be making you install panels, and then the electricity company telling you your not allowed to export because there are to many people with solar.
    I have always wondered if you have enough houses with solar, if you could power industries during the day.
    If industry had cheap power Australia might start manufacturing stuff again. With robots because labor would still be expensive.
    We could even start using our own raw materials rather them shipping everything overseas.
    Give it a go Shellharbour lets see if it works. MALS

  3. Well….. I hope the council is well prepared for any ‘fall-out’ that might occur.

    The council has a somewhat troubled political history if this ABC article is any guide

    https://www.abc.net.au/news/2021-12-09/surfer-chris-homer-set-to-be-elected-shellharbour-mayor/100687536

    Lets hope things go well for them, and proper planning is carried out.

  4. So Council comes up with a green initiative, whether perfect or not, and you call them idiots.

    I believe Ronald from SQ did an article recently suggesting that even south facing panels aren’t that bad here in Australia.

    Yes, using less power is the goal, increasing efficiency is the best way to do this. But home owners have to pay for that, forced solar much like forced water tanks here in NSW is a great initiative and a step in the right direction.

    • “So Council comes up with a green initiative, whether perfect or not, and you call them idiots.”

      Just because an initiative is “green” doesn’t mean it’s not idiotic. If you can’t see why *enforced* installation of rooftop solar PV on every residence and business is idiotic, I can’t help you.

      By all means council should install solar PV on their own property assets where it makes sense, and they should encourage, support and educate local residents and businesses on the benefits of installing solar PV, but *enforced* installations for all is just idiotic.

      Not everyone can afford it and nor should they be forced to. Not all rooftops are suitable. Many buildings would require major and expensive upgrades or replacements of electrical and roofing infrastructure. Many rooftops are just physically unsuitable or have far too much shading for a PV system to justify the expense. It’s a seaside LGA and that has other implications for solar PV installations (much higher ongoing maintenance costs). Many homes just don’t need much energy.

      Who is paying for all this?

      This is a Council with a pretty sad history of incompetence and dysfunction over the past 15 years, has been sacked once for corruption, and later had to be placed into administration. Not sure they have the record for making such decisions on behalf of their residents. As to mandatory solar PV, well that’s just another open door for more graft and corruption.

      But you know, it’s “green”, so all good.

      • According to the above article it is a proposed mandate for new buildings, not a mandate extending to retrofitting existing buildings (which I agree would be problematic).

        It would prevent new solar incompatible buildings (to the extent the mandate applied).

        The is a risk that the solar would be optimised for the builders` profits, rather than the home users, particularly at the lower end of the housing market.

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