Solar Council’s electorates map destroys ‘rich’ theory

lots of roofs, no solar

Solar only for the rich? You won’t see many solar panels in Pott’s Point! Photo: Flickr – philoye

There’s a false perception in Australia — perpetrated in part by the anti-solar brigade and their fellow travellers — that the only people who invest in domestic solar systems are those who are rich. According to this theory it is only those in the more affluent parts of Australia that have the resources to afford solar panels. Working and lower middle class families apparently don’t have them on their roofs because they are out of their price range.

The argument follows that they (the rich) therefore shouldn’t be entitled to the so-called “middle class welfare” of solar rebates. On occasion the unstated extension of this argument is that subsidies should any government subsidies be on offer, they should only be directed towards *coughs* … ahem … fossil fuel industries.

Many of these anti-renewable groups have formed powerful lobby groups and pushed hard for a reduction (or elimination) of any government financial support for renewable energy. Of course governments across the land have managed to be persuaded by this doubtful anti-solar rhetoric with the latest move by the Federal Government to slash solar rebates in half on July 1, 2013.

However a study released this week by the Australian Solar Council not only undermined this theory, presumably one of the reasons for the rebate cuts, but gives it the Hurricane Sandy treatment, blowing it out of the water.

The Council’s study took an interesting slant to solar takeup throughout the country and ranked them according to each federal electorate. The results were surprising: Julia Gillard’s own working class electorate of Lalor, in Victoria, was number two in the top solar energy systems electorates with former Opposition Leader Malcolm Turnbull’s well-heeled Wentworth electorate in Sydney adjudged to be last.

John Grimes, Chief Executive of the Australian Solar Council, pointed to the growth of domestic solar systems in rural and mortgage belts as the key drivers of solar energy in Australia — results which fly in the face of the “solar folks are rich theory”.

“The surprising data in here is the more you earn the less likely you are to install solar,” he said. “What we’ve seen is really strong take up in the mortgage belt and the regional areas,” said Grimes.

While there are a number of factors influencing the results, the research shows quite clearly that the old argument that people who install solar panels must be well off is bunk. Indeed the Council’s study points to the increasing trend amongst all Australians to become part of the solar power revolution.

For hours of fun and some surprising results, go to the Solar Electorates Map on the Council’s home page. Don’t hesitate to have your say below or over on our Facebook Page. We’d love to hear from you.

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