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Solar hot water still 'the best way' to lower electricity bills

2nd Mar 2012

Households may find that solar hot water is still the best way to lower energy bills, even in light of cuts to the government’s federal solar hot water rebate.

Vince Holland from Sunshine Coast Solahart, which distributes solar hot water systems in the region, noted that converting to solar hot water has plenty of financial benefits that will be reaped in the long term.

Speaking to the Sunshine Coast Daily, he emphasised that opting for solar hot water can mean homeowners receive a $600 subsidy from the state government, as well as hundreds of dollars extra in Renewable Energy Certificates. This hot water subsidy can be claimed in addition to the thousands of dollars in rebates for photovoltaic solar panels that produce electricity.

For Solar Hot Water there is potential to receive $600 from the government, as well as the certificate valued at $900, depending on the size of the system that has been installed. In addition for Solar Electricity you can claim up to an extra $3000 for a 1.5kW system.

In recent weeks, the Australian Conservation Foundation (ACF) noted that the Clean Energy Finance Corporation (CEFC) needs to be implemented in order to encourage greater investment in solar projects.

It is designed to provide a new source of finance for renewable energy and low-emission technologies and will involve the input of a panel of experts.

The ACF noted that the Solar Flagships program highlights the problems faced by the solar energy industry.

"Importantly, the CEFC will get these investment decisions out of the hands of bureaucrats and into the hands of independent experts who can identify the strengths in the renewables industry and connect them with the right investors," commented ACF economic adviser Simon O'Connor.

He stressed that 52 solar power plants in excess of 150MW were submitted to the Solar Flagships initiative in 2010, although only two were approved to receive government support.

If the CEFC were properly implemented, this figure could be increased by as much as 50, Mr O'Connor believes.

Should Australia continue to dig in its heels, the expert suggested that it will lose out on the opportunity to benefit from the renewable energy sector.

Last year alone, $137 billion was committed to solar investment and $251 billion investment in all renewables.

This is something that Australia cannot afford to miss out on, Mr O'Connor noted.

General manager of CBD Solar Jeff Bye recently told RenewEconomy that the government should be considering alternatives to the Solar Flagships program, suggesting that the money would be better spent on rooftop panels.

He offered the example of solar panels being installed on hospital buildings, which could collectively save them around $147,000 a year.

With around 750 public hospitals in the country, this could lead to considerable cost reductions.

Posted by Bob Dawson


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