Australians 'heavy supporters of solar power'

25th Jul 2013

The widespread appeal of solar power may seem obvious from the widespread investment people have made in rooftop PV systems, but a new study has reinforced the nation's love for the renewable technology.

Funded by the Australian Solar Institute and prepared for the Australian Photovoltaic Association, the CSIRO survey examined six solar technologies that enable generation and consumption of power at a local level.

These were solar hot water systems, grid-connected solar PV systems, grid-connected solar PV with batteries, off-grid solar PV, community PV and battery-alone systems.

So what was the upshot of the report? Well, according to CSIRO, Australians are in favour of solar across a wide range of available technologies.

"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," the report stated.

The facts and figures

More than 30 per cent of the 2,641 respondents had either solar PV or solar hot water installed in their homes, with 70 per cent claiming they were happy and would invest even more money into their system.

Interestingly, 66 per cent of those who did not have these technologies still believed distributed energy systems were a good idea, with many indicating they would consider having them added to their property.

The most cited reason for buying solar power was cost savings, as households rush to save cash on their energy bills by fitting solar panels.

"The next most valued attributes included reliability and durability, meeting electricity needs and providing uninterrupted power, followed by benefits to the environment and reducing reliance of energy retailers," the report added.

However, people hoping to invest in solar panels did not rank everything so highly.

Ease of maintenance and installation, as well as visual appeal were considered less important factors.

Paying for solar power systems

The survey showed respondents overwhelmingly preferred to pay for solar power technology upfront.

This was followed by people who would like to buy through a finance agreement or loan, while leasing the system came in third.

The last option was to sign up to an Energy Service Company (ESCO) deal, which is a power saving package tailored to specific homes that encourages reduced electricity use at peak times.

While 59 per cent of people said they would consider a contract of this type, 26 per cent said they would not.

Posted by Mike Peacock

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