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"Serious" solar subsidies needed in QLD

23rd Aug 2011

The federal government should do more to encourage take-up of solar panel installations in regional areas of Queensland, one local leader has asserted.

Speaking to the ABC, mayor Annie Clarke of the Burke Shire Council said that authorities in more remote locations "cannot do it on our own" when it comes to solar projects.

At the next meeting of councils, which will be held in October, she intends to introduce a resolution which could see shires not connected to the national electricity grid receive greater compensation.

A 50 per cent rebate, she argued, would ease the cost burden on people who live in regional and remote parts of Australia.

Clarke, who has championed solar energy for 16 years, said that regional councils are keen to embrace solar projects, but are deterred by the overwhelming costs associated with storing and distributing power.

She said: "We certainly cannot do it on our own."

However, she added that Burke Shire Council would like to be "part of a flagship program up in our part of the world" that would see better take-up of green energy.

Last month, the Sunshine Coast Council voted unanimously for the construction of a solar farm in the community of Valdora, which could see up to 2,500 new homes in the area powered by the sun.

The solar farm is part of the council's goal of becoming completely carbon-neutral - the region aims to be the low-carbon capital of Queensland by 2020 by encouraging the installation of more rooftop solar photovoltaic panels on public buildings - including libraries and visitor centres.

In addition, individuals who are keen to generate their own electricity with a roof-mounted solar system no longer need to get planning approval from the council, as the authority wants to make the installations as straightforward as possible.

Recent figures from the Clean Energy Council suggest that up to 89 per cent of Australians are keen to adopt energy-saving measures.

The research, which was carried out for the council by Auspoll, also indicated that the majority of people are interested in learning more about the various ways they can cut their energy consumption and reduce their carbon footprint.

Some 73 per cent of people indicated they wanted more education about their green options, while 57 per cent were not aware of the various government initiatives - including solar credits and feed-in tariffs - currently available to members of the public.

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