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Solar power 'will become increasingly important'

28th Aug 2012

It may have a new name, but the Australian Solar Energy Society (AuSES) is still championing the solar cause, claiming it is the future of electricity generation.

Now called the Australian Solar Council, the organisation said the switch reflects the transforming impact solar energy is having on the country.

Chief executive officer John Grimes reinforced the point, describing solar panels in particular as becoming increasingly mainstream in Australian homes.

"Our abundant resource, increased affordability and strong demand mean that Australia will continue to be a major global market for solar," he stated.

So what does this mean for the average Aussie? John is a firm believer that typical households will experience a range of economic benefits - both close to home and indirectly.

"[Solar energy] presents tremendous opportunities for Australian households looking to keep their energy costs under control while also supporting the growth of the solar industry and the economic activity that comes from the development and installation of solar-generation capacity," he explained.

And John is happy to reel out the stats to back it up. The Australian Energy Market Operator says up to 18,000MW of rooftop solar power will be generated across the country by 2031.

That's not all - SolarBusinessServices, an analysis and research firm in the sector, is much less conservative, claiming that up to 40,000MW will be produced in Australia by 2030.

John also highlighted the reduction in price of solar panels, which he stated have dropped by nearly 50 per cent in the last four years. Ten times the rooftop installations are also now being completed compared with just a few years ago, he added.

Australia's burgeoning solar power industry hasn't gone unnoticed. The Australian Solar Council CEO was quick to point to international heavy hitters setting up shop in the country as a sign of a tipping point.

This included Yingli Solar, which recently announced a regional headquarters in Sydney.

However, this success comes at a price, John implied, with solar energy's rise presenting a "massive challenge" to traditional fossil-fuel companies.

According to Mr Grimes, a large part of the council's role will now be to dispel the myths and misconceptions that are commonly spread about clean energy technology.

This will ensure 'the powers that be' are able to make policy decisions with the right information, he concluded.

Last month, the AuSES - as it was then known - called for the government to stay strong in the face of repeated calls for the Renewable Energy Target to be scrapped, claiming it was one of the best policy achievements of the last ten years.

Posted by Mike Peacock

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