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Solar power a natural fit for Australia

15th Sep 2011

Clean energy organisation Beyond Zero Emissions (BZE) claims that feed-in tariffs are the best way to build an energy system that no longer has to rely on coal-fired power.

According to BZE: "The use of a feed-in tariff to get solar panels onto every rooftop in Australia would add just 1.2 cents to the cost of electricity over 20 years."

Researchers claim that this figure factors in the total cost of installed solar panels and the potential savings that could be received by a reduction in electricity bills.

BZE executive director Matthew Wight says: "Simply put, feed-in tariff is the cheapest mechanism to actually succeed in getting carbon abatement as seen in the Productivity Commissions report on Germany."

It is their belief that appropriate support could lead to viable energy infrastructure in place by 2015, meaning that Australia could generate electricity at a cheaper rate than traditional coal-fired power.

In its 2020 Zero Carbon Australia Stationary Energy Plan, BZE claims that household solar systems play a key role in moving Australia towards a clean energy future, stating: "Small-scale solar photovoltaic power has a role in reducing the demand for grid electricity during sunlight hours."

The plan is a joint collaboration between BZE, the University of Melbourne and Energy Research Institute.

According to the plan foreword by Mike Sandiford, director of the University of Melbourne's Energy Institute: "Effectively converting about 0.06 per cent of the solar energy that hits the land would meet the entire global energy demand."

The report highlights the nation's naturally advantageous position when it comes to sun exposure, stating: "Australia has many sites with superior solar incidence, and less pronounced seasonal variations than overseas sites where extensive use of large scale solar power is planned and operating."

This news should come as a comfort to homeowners who are worried about the ability of rooftop solar panels to perform over the course of a year.

Australia's overall sun exposure is greater than the vast majority of other continents.

Leaps in the efficiency of solar panels, as well as drops in prices of materials, are other arguments cited by the plan in favour of widespread installation.

The authors of the study believe that investment should also be channelled into developing large-scale solar farms that can collect and store energy, effectively creating a constant power source throughout the day and night. 

Mike Peacock - Solar Correspondent

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