Solar panels could power Australia

2nd Apr 2013

Australia could be entirely powered by solar power if enough people adopted the technology, says Energy Matters.

Using recent government data, Energy Matters calculated that if every suitable rooftop in the country was installed with solar panels, 134.8 per cent of Australia's residential electricity needs would be generated.

That's a lot of electricity. Enough, in fact, to lower the cost of electricity to seven cents per kWh, as opposed to the current price of up to 40 cents per kWh.

The benefits of this would be numerous. As well as lowering electricity prices, Australia would no longer be so reliant on expensive and environmentally detrimental fossil fuels. Carbon emissions would be slashed.

"This could easily become a reality and the positive impact on our lives would be immediate and long-lasting," said Nick Brass of Energy Matters.

Initial installation costs would be expensive – eight per cent of Australia's annual GDP. However due to the savings that would be made as a result of investing in the solar panels, that figure would soon pay itself off.

The ideal result would be for all suitable rooftops to have an 8kW of 32 solar panels installed, with each system costing approximately under $14,000.

An estimate of 36kWh per day of energy would be produced with the average household using 18kWh daily – so a surplus of power would be supplied that would pay back the system between four and six years.

"The idea is for the eligible houses to produce more electricity than they need with the excess supply fed back into the grid in order to power Australia's residential and non-residential needs," said Mr Brass.

"Further calculations we performed indicate the amount of electricity generated would supply 38.8% of Australia's total electricity requirements (inclusive of all residential, industry, commercial services, metal production and mining)."

A recent survey by Earth Hour and the World Wildlife Foundation Australia revealed that 87 per cent of Australians surveyed want more action in ensuring Australia is a top ten producer of renewable energy.

“We expect to see solar energy continue to boom at the household level. Within months we will have more than one million solar rooftops, and this polling shows that a further 1.5 million households would also consider joining them," said Earth Hour spokesperson Kellie Caught.

"For every million households that switch to renewables that’s equivalent to taking 2.1 million cars off our roads or planting over 6 million trees."

These statistics reflect that enthusiasm for renewable and solar energy in Australia is at a high point.

Posted by Mike Peacock

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