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South Australia 'embracing solar energy'

5th Jul 2011

Households in South Australia are embracing home-generated solar energy, with many middle-income families considering installing rooftop solar panels.

Speaking to The Advertiser, Russell Marsh, policy director at the Clean Energy Council, remarked that the cost of installing solar panels has fallen considerably in recent years, making the technology more accessible to ordinary Australians.

While Marsh suggested that higher-income households would traditionally be associated with solar energy uptake, this is not the case.

"In a lot of cases, the biggest uptake is actually in regional and rural suburbs in South Australia," he said.

Marsh asserted that rather than "the cashed-up members of the latte set", it is lower-income residents in the state's outer suburbs who have "the most to gain" from installing solar energy - as this may protect them from further electricity price increases in the future.

Some 76,000 South Australian households have received approval from ETSA to connect to the power grid under the utility firm's renewable energy incentive scheme - which has been subsidised by the state government.

Uptake has been most popular in areas such as Morphett Vale, Mt Barker and Victor Harbour, where hundreds of homes have been kitted out with solar technology.

Comparatively, some of Adelaide's wealthier suburbs - including Unley, St Peters and Burnside - have seen just a few dozen installations, according to the publication's suburb breakdown of households with ETSA approval to generate solar energy at home.

Under the initiative, consumers generating solar energy that is fed back into the grid can earn $0.44 per kilowatt hour of electricity.

South Australian residents thinking about installing solar panels need to consider a number of important points before deciding whether or not to invest in the technology.

In addition to assessing whether their property is suitable for a solar installation, households also need to consider the type of solar system that best suits their home, the kind of electricity meter required to export power into the grid and whether or not they are eligible for government rebates.

People installing solar panels in South Australia need to bear in mind that the process of generating renewable electricity includes several legal obligations and all domestic solar energy projects need to be approved by ETSA Utilities.

After recent safety concerns in New South Wales, South Australian residents would also do well to consider having their panels installed - and checked - by a qualified technician to avoid any risks.

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