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Australia 'well-positioned' for solar boom

27th Nov 2012

Australia has some of the best solar power assets in the world – but the country shouldn't rest on its laurels.

That's the upshot of a new renewable energy report by the Climate Commission, which praised the nation's sustainable resources but claimed it could be doing more.

Professor Tim Flannery, chief commissioner of the organisation, told ABC that renewable energy is going to be a main driver of the economy.

He stated: "You talk to people in government and industry and many people on the street, those facts really haven't started to sink in."

Describing the development of renewable energy as an "emerging inevitability", he cited the plummeting prices of solar panels as a primary reason for the technology's popularity.

Costs have dropped by 75 per cent in the last four years, he said, with solar power expected to be among the cheapest forms of energy by 2030.

It could become the most cost effective solution even sooner, the expert added, provided carbon prices remain in place.

And contrary to popular belief, it isn't just the wealthy who are investing in solar rooftop PV. In fact, they're not even the main demographic.

According to the professor, low and middle-income families are the most likely to purchase solar power systems.

"[They] are making that investment because they're feeling the pinch, they feel it more than some wealthy people," he explained.

Not only this, but state governments are making an effort to include households from lower socio-economic groups.

Flannery highlighted Tasmania in particular, where the government is investing in social housing with solar panels fitted.

But Queensland was deemed top of the pile when it came to solar power penetration, with the Climate Commission report showing it has doubled the number of installations statewide over the last two years.

The study calculated that global investment in renewable energy hit $250 billion in 2011 – with 118 nations boasting environmentally-friendly targets.

And Australia is contributing to this sustainable energy drive, with ten per cent of its consumption coming from renewable sources.

However, this does not mean there isn't room for improvement – at least according to the Climate Commission and Professor Flannery.

"Australia is the sunniest country and has world-class wind resources," he continued.

"With some necessary changes to the ways in which electricity is produced and distributed, Australia will be well placed to further increase the use of renewable energy."

Posted by Mike Peacock

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