Solar panels 'have many benefits for homeowners'

5th Sep 2012

There are a whole host of benefits to having solar panels installed and one industry expert is only too happy to expound the advantages of possessing such systems.

Miles George, managing director of Infigen Energy (one of Australia's biggest companies focusing purely on renewables), told RenewEconomy that the increasing popularity of rooftop solar energy is having a "very big effect" on energy retailers and generators.

He thinks that solar will play its part in helping the country reach its Renewable Energy Target (RET), which is to have 20 per cent of power generation coming through sustainable sources over the next 12 years.

This is split between large-scale technology certificate and small-scale energy certificate (SRES) markets, with solar panels counted under the latter category.

According to Miles, the SRES target is to have 4GW of solar power capacity contributing towards the RET by 2020 – but he's confident, and so are many others, that this is already within touching distance.

"I think industry participants think that the 4GW will be achieved within 18 months, depending on how cheap those panels will be," he explained. "That will have a material effect on anticipated demand."

And the advantages don't stop there. Mr George said homeowners can save money on distribution costs for electricity, while also confirming that energy is cheaper to generate at home than to buy elsewhere.

But what about larger-scale solar options? Well, Miles finds it strange that Australia has failed to capitalise on its vast solar capacity for utility-scale operations.

"We have got the best solar resource in the world, but many other countries with good solar resources have got utility-scale solar, like Spain and the US, but we don't have anything," he stated.

And while the director is hard to pin down on when this is likely to change exactly, he comments it should be within the next five to ten years.

This will be dependent on a number of factors, he added, including the overall direction of the solar industry and whether the price of units continues to plummet or instead stabilise.

However, Miles mentioned that funding from government bodies – such as the Australian Renewable Energy Agency – could help to facilitate development more rapidly.

The organisation has access to $3.2 billion worth of finance to boost sustainable projects in the country, including a range of solar power initiatives, between now and 2020 when the RET deadline arrives.

Posted by Mike Peacock

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