Early morning sunrise photography
Environment

Solar Energy in Australia

When visiting Germany in 2010, I was staggered to see solar panels on so many roofs and farms across the country, especially in the rural areas. It put my own country, Australia, to shame. Why?

sunrise photography

With plenty of strong sunlight year-round, Australia would presumably be at the forefront of engaging with solar technology early on, right? Especially when the solar cell was invented on these very shores.

Sadly, the answer was no. It wasn’t.

Coal Fired Power Generation in Australia

With its vast swathes of coal and fossil fuels, historically it has been far cheaper and easier for Australia, to mine coal and export surplus abroad, than to explore alternative energy sources.

In fact, around half the Australian economy depends on coal mining. This mammoth industry menas whole towns and cities are built around the economies of coal production and consequently, coal-fired power has been the electrical generation system of choice in Australia.

Yet it comes at a heavy price for the environment and our planet, as most of us already know.

Coal is becoming far less desirable as an energy source and has become a four-letter word in environmental circles. China, our biggest importer, no longer wants coal, as it turns its attention to the free energy source, the sun.

Solar Systems for the Home

At the Home by the Sea, we’ve just installed 17 new-tech Hyundai Solar panels – a 6.6 kW Solar system with a 5kw inverter. Our second home solar system.

solar panels on houses with sunrise

Previously, we had 14 panels producing 3.6 kW. Solar system technology has advanced to almost doubled the capacity and efficiency in ten years. When we first installed solar in 2011, it would take 3-5 years to pay back the installation price. Now we will pay it back through savings after the first 18 months!

Saving Trees and Reducing Coal and Carbon Dioxide Emissions

Today, a few weeks after installation, the “you-beaut” app, which is installed with our new solar energy system, tells us we have saved not only 40 trees but have also saved 280 kgs of coal and thus 280 kgs of carbon dioxide from being emitted into the atmosphere.

Solar power app

Amazing. Yay to that!

Rise in Solar Systems Installations in Australia

I do have a reason to celebrate, because last year, more than 1/4 of Australia’s total power generation came from solar power generation, much of it from small-scale homeowners, investing in solar systems to power their houses.

1 in 5 Australian homes now produce energy from solar systems. Yay!

And why not?

When our climate is conducive to solar power generation, almost 365 days a year.

In addition, 76 large-scale wind and solar projects are under construction, “representing more than 8 GW of new capacity and employing over 9000 Australian workers.”[source: cleanenergycouncil.org.au]

This surge in uptake has been boosted by Government rebates and ridiculous hikes in electricity bills for consumers making alternative technology more viable. Ironically, the coal and fossil fuel generation industry is clanging its death knell by trying to maintain its competitive edge by lobbying politicians and raising prices.

new houses with solar panels
Twelve more houses in the street have solar systems compared to last year

Looking around this year in my new suburb, it seems that the figure for home-based solar systems, in Australia, is more likely to be 1 in 2 or 3.

Australia’s home solar power revolution has been nothing short of phenomenal..in 2009, there were just 85,000 solar systems connected to the mains grid in Australia – and Australia’s first solar farm was yet to be built.

Fast forward to 2021 and more than 2.65 million solar panel systems have been installed on rooftops throughout the nation and gigawatts of large scale solar energy projects are in place, being developed or in the pipeline.

In fact, more solar panels have been installed on rooftops of homes in this country than there are people in Australia.

http://www.solarquotes.com.au/australia/

In 2019, the solar industry created over 13,000 new jobs. There is really no reason why certain politicians don’t get fully on board. It is the future energy source.

The table below has a few years of aberrant figures where exponential growth slowed. It correlates with some political decisions of a pro-fossil fuels and anti-renewables leader in Government trying hard to destroy the Solar industry and the renewable targets.

Source: http://www.solarquotes.com.au/australia/

YearSystems InstalledRunning Total
2001118 
2002251369
20036641,033
200410892,122
200514063,528
200611154,643
200734808,123
200814,06422,187
200962,91685,103
2010198,208283,311
2011360,745644,056
2012343,320987,376
2013200,4071,187,783
2014180,1391,367,922
2015141,4901,509,412
2016132,6771,642,089
2017174,7611,816,850
2018224,8382,0416,88
2019283,9522,325,861
2020333,9782,659,839

This repressed environmentalist is smiling a little more now.

#Weekly Smile

More about Solar Energy

102 thoughts on “Solar Energy in Australia”

  1. Same here Amanda, we were also surprised about the lack of solar panels in Australia. We had our fitted a good few years ago and spent a fortune. We missed out on the buy back scheme, but still it has been worth it. We don’t have the capacity yet to store anything but at least we use large appliances when the sun is shining. Great article.

    Liked by 5 people

    1. I am sorry to hear that you missed out on the rebated prices, but you would have got in on a great credit for pumping your solar energy to the grid. We got 52 cents for our first system, now with the new one it is down to 11 cents. Still we can rest assured that we are helping our planet and while the sun shines, our power is all but free!

      Liked by 2 people

  2. I had a 5.8KW installed six months ago. Twenty panels, ten on each side of the roof. Last month AGL owes us $3,60. And that is despite the rainy days we had.
    It just doesn’t make sense not to use solar energy. The next will be an EV car when the price falls below $40-K.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. I can’t wait for the Electric vehicles to drop in price! And for the technology to develop further. I am also hoping to go off grid at some point, when storage drops in price. A good investment Gerard!

      Like

    1. The aberrant politician were ousted, Derrick ( one was actually born in England that destroyed the solar industry for three years) You were lucky you didn’t end up with him in your politics! But there are still many current politicians who vehemently support the coal industry – mainly those who electorates are around coal mining areas! The writing is on the wall for coal. It is history, but some hold on to resist change. Hopefully the increasing solar tide will wash away any resistance.

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Amanda, it seems Australia is catching up fast! 😀 It makes sense for a country with so much sunlight to have solar panels, here there are massive off-shore wind farms and they are beautiful in their own right and perfectly placed to catch the breeze. The U.K. is now regularly using energy which is more than fifty per cent renewable. Still a long way to go! I love the look of your meter panel with readings about trees saved and emissions not created! Inspiring!

    Liked by 4 people

    1. It is nice to know how many trees/emissions we are saving, in terms we can easily understand. I like to hear that UK is regularly using 50 % renewables. Is that from wind energy?
      If only we can catch up even faster than we are now. China has become the world’s largest producers of solar panels! So we can see where their future lies! Hopefully, Australia will follow suit. I remember seeing quite a few wind farms in Denmark and they do have a stately beauty, although I understand now everyone is happy about them. Is that right?

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Yes, it is mostly wind energy although there are a lot of private solar power panels on houses – not quite the weather for it! 😀 There are some who do not like the wind turbines but nowadays they are very far from land – more of a danger to shipping! Looking out across the moors as I drive I see the giant electricity pylons … originally so many against these but many don’t even notice them anymore.

        Liked by 1 person

        1. That is a good point for those who argue that the wind energy pylons are ugly. What about the high voltage transmission lines. They are just as much a blog on the landscape. Necessary though. I kind of like the majesty of the wind turbines.
          I do agree one would become a little blind to their presence after a while.
          I wonder why the ships find them a problem to avoid?

          Liked by 2 people

    1. Interesting you say that, Brian. Our house’s roof happened to be orientated in such a way that east- west was the only orientation suggested and the best one for us. My old system was north facing, but it makes perfect sense to capture early morning and late afternoon sun along with higher demand. Then again, planning and managing the overloaded system to handle more and more solar electricity is also an urgent priority. Very interesting article. SA is the state to watch, hey? Thanks so much for sharing that.

      Liked by 1 person

    1. That is very disappointing to hear Ang. I wish it wasn’t like that. If you get them installed, surely you can use the power you produce to power your home first and the company only screws you over for what you put back into the grid?

      Like

      1. The company will buy any extra power you make, but if you make too much power they make you take down some of your panels. I guess they don’t like purchasing power back. The panels are expensive too. In my opinion, power companies shouldn’t interfere if someone wants to use solar energy. But here it has to be that way, and they make the rules.

        Liked by 1 person

        1. I find it incredible that they make you take down some of your own panels! I do understand that too much power going into the grid at certain times of the day strains a system not designed to handle huge inputs in the middle of the day – as Bushboy’s link attests. But surely they can disable them for certain times- on a timer than take them off one’s roof! That sounds crazy and quite authoritian. I am sorry to hear that.

          Liked by 1 person

  4. That’s great! I pay a premium on my electric to have it all “green sourced energy”, but I do want to put up panels on both homes at some point. Australia does seem the ideal place for solar! The southwest US is as well, but, like you, our country is owned by big coal, and their propaganda engine is huge.Up where I live solar isn’t quite as advantageous, but I do know a few small scale solar farms and more and more private homes are getting it. Hopefully some day we’ll turn the corner – I’d love to see the US pass 1/4 of all electricity being renewables,. And then 1/2. and then 100%!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I love hearing that people are choosing and happy to pay extra to have green sourced energy, Trent. I would love it if everyone could afford to take up that option! The demand for green energy might begin to outstrip demand creating further developments in renewables! A good thing, right?
      Australia is the ideal place for solar and I wish our country had been smart enough to capitalize on the solar cell invention. Sadly, like many of our developments, the technology is sold overseas as they cannot get investors to manufacture products here for a reasonable price. I have a friend with a golfing invention and the cost difference to project manage it to manufacture, in Australia compared to America was twelve times as expensive! They desperately wanted to keep the product all Australian, but with costs like this it was impossible.
      Getting back to solar, I can understand that it isn’t the complete answer in the colder regions. Hopefully the technology will continue to developed to cater for that in coming years!

      Liked by 1 person

      1. At some point we will have to come up with different energy options, but even here solar is better than coal! And, truthfully, the costs of renewables is goign down while the coast of fossil fuel is goign up, so it won’t be long before propel will have to pay a premium for fossil fuel. If we put a carbon tax on it, that day would be today…

        Liked by 1 person

        1. Oh Trent! I would love to see a carbon tax here. A previous Prime Minister tried to introduce it and another contemplated it and unfortunately, the coal lobby, pro coal voters and politicians caused the demise of both of those figures and the end og any carbon tax proposal. Australians are resentful any new text – it is political suicude and can sway public opinion in the most significant way. Having said that, I do have hope as you said said, coal and fossil fuels will become more and more uneconomical and much more expensive than renewables. We shall hope that comes to pass sooner rather than later.

          Liked by 1 person

  5. Amanda, this is a great story, thanks for sharing it. What also impressed me about the huge solar project there is it involved a French solar design firm, American battery storage and Chinese photovoltaic panels with Australian people and investment. It was truly an international affair.

    Solar energy now is more cost effective than coal to produce on most places and when all of the costs are present valued (acquisition, transport, environmental degradation, water evaporation, building, maintenance, coal ash maintenance, litigation and health), solar costs beat the pants off coal costs.

    In America, solar jobs and wind energy jobs dwarf coal jobs and are growing at double digit rates on average. The coal industry is waning and people need to shoot straight with these miners and help them transition. What frustrates me here in the US is politicians in coal producing states have known this for years (I have known it for about ten years and I just read and watch news) and have lied to their constituents rather than plan ahead. One of those is the Senate minority leader from Kentucky. Keith

    Liked by 2 people

    1. A truly international collaboration! Yes Keith – we can all work together well, when conditions are right! And for the good of the planet too!
      You made a valid point about the total realistic costs of power generation – and that ancillary costs are not always factored in to the equation or immediately obvious to the consumer. Particularly water evaporation, litigation, transport, coal ash maintenance etc.
      It does seem counterproductive for certain states not to get on board, but it is similar here in Australia. The coal lobby is so powerful here and the politicians so reactive to bad publicity and public opinion. Losing 100 or so jobs would be tantamount to political suicide for a local representative, so they would rather cause damage to the environment, the planet and the people that could last generations. How long before the senate leader faces re-election? Is the senate election held the same time as the Presidential votes?

      Like

  6. Very interesting.
    my neighbour, in front of us just installed a solar panel in their balcony. And you were quite right, these things are a normal sight here ( at least here in the south of Germany).

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Germany appears to have a very strong environmental conscience. I wonder how they have performed given that you have had them longer than we have. Did the panels and inverters last. The irony is that in the early days of solar energy here, we were buying a solar panel from a cold wintry Germany based on Australian technology.

      Liked by 1 person

  7. Love this post! 💜 Imagine if everyone switched to solar power? What a logical, healthy way to help our planet and all of us who inhabit it. If there is anyone interested in the US, but can’t make it happen where they live, Community Solar is great.

    Liked by 3 people

    1. Here in Australia, I am afraid coal is still very much alive, but hopefully for not much longer. For other countries, coal is a much more expensive option, but not here. We just have to convince our politicians to let coal die!
      One great thing about blogging, Michelle in the independent views one finds. You get information from the ground as people live it, unadulterated an unfettered by corporate or political interests. It is of course, only a bloggers personal opinion and not always totally accurate, but oftentimes it is more accurate than syndicated media channels which no longer seem to fact check information.
      Thank you for the comment. It is appreciated!

      Like

  8. I just read this morning that the Biden administration was working with coal producing unions and some state governments to provide retraining for workers in the coal industry. If you take a way someone’s means of making money without providing an alternative, people get scared and resist. I really like this approach and I hope it works.

    Liked by 3 people

    1. Excellent point, Janis. I like Biden’s peacemaking collaboration incentivising approach. Lovely to try and find retraining options for workers. I don’t know why this isn’t always part of the industry transitions packages. It makes sense and will keep people onside. The coal industry should be the ones super keen to invest in solar – it could be their future too!

      Liked by 1 person

  9. Hello neighbour, We have had solar for a while now 6panels I am hoping to add quite a few more & go completely off grid sometime in the future, as there is talk of us being charged a fee for having solar & the work that is needed to calculate it all or something ridiculous like that, I don’t believe all the news but I knew this could be a possibility when we got solar 5yrs ago. A woman on the news said she looked into it & couldn’t afford it but if she had of spoken to someone who knows she would have found out that her electricity bills would be cheaper from the minute solar is hooked up & combined with her repayments would be cheaper than not being on solar. Mum & I are on pensions & have paid off our solar ages ago & still have money to pay all our bills & all added extras. It is so encouraging to see so many with solar in this little country of ours. If all went solar how great would it be.

    Liked by 3 people

    1. Can you imagine how we would be placed if we went completely solar for residentail areas. Our air might be that much cleaner. The fee we are paying will be minimal but until we go off grid and we are not playing to atm, we must accept payment will be necessary. I personally feel it is worth it for most folks unless it is a one or two person family with low electricity use.

      Liked by 1 person

            1. Things are very expensive in Australia but the real cost if the system is 10000 !AUD. The government gives you a 3800 AUD rebate as an incentive to connect to solar. Electricity here is very expensive. What would the average cost of electricity for a family of four be each month in India?

              Liked by 1 person

              1. Compared to Australia it’s much much cheaper I think.
                With 2 Window Ac and 2 water heaters it may be between Rupees 5000 to 10,000 per month.( Australian dollar 90 to 200 ).
                This assessment is for a middle income family.

                How much middle income group people pay there approximately?

                Liked by 1 person

              2. We have an energy efficient new house so for two people electricity and gas hot water is about 300 – 350 AUD for three months. 4 people with my son using air con 24/7: 340AUD each month.
                When we lived in our old house: 3 x room Aircon, a swimming pool, electric hot water – in summer with the air con on, our bill for a family of four or five would be $1000 for three months – and believe this, that was the electricity bill more than ten years ago! The pool pump sucked up electricity like you wouldn’t believe.
                That is when we invested in solar. It dropped our bill to $250 for three months. North facing panels so they pulled in the power during the day when the swimming pool pump and aircon was on.
                We don’t have a pool now and we like that our house is energy efficient. We have ceiling fans, insulation, gas hot water and house design and orientation and location, – near the sea all helps and it is naturally cool in summer. I rarely have to use the air con here. It makes a difference.

                Liked by 1 person

  10. I loved reading this, Amanda. I wish I could go solar too but we are not allowed here in our park. I’m not sure my roof could hold them and the land is leased so there you go. They won’t even let us put on a 50 year metal roof. If it weren’t all I could afford, I’d do it so differently. You are right. Politicians are being bought off in both our countries. I don’t think they can do that to the one we have now but he won’t be there forever. The dinosaurs are alive and well. One way or other, the coal will run out and something else will have to take it’s place. I’m sitting in the dark, unplugged and no heat or cooling on. I make people crazy with my thriftiness. My daughter never complains though. She works for Energy Trust here and they try to get people to use less electricity and more blankets, better lights, etc. She’s as energy conscious as I am. Glad you got the panels on your new home.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Thanks, dear sweet Marlene. I don’t like waste and sometimes it is nice to have ambient light than the brightly lit every light possible on that some folks have. Why waste power? Having said that, I don’t take it to the extremes my father does. He has made it into an obsession. Running into the laundry to fill the hot water jug for a cuppa, as the hot water has less distance to travel in the pipes to the laundry, as opposed to the kitchen. I don’t go to that degree. But if it lowers your power bill and assists the environment it is all good!
      I am glad to hear the current leader in America is not to be bought off. What a strong person he must be to withstand all the temptations that must be laid at his feet. Good on him.
      Re the solar energy. A shame you are restricted in your choices, but anyone renting faces the same situation. In the coming generation, there will be many less homeowners than in ours, so this might be something that will be more of an issue in the future.
      Take care and have a great week, and keep warm my beautiful friend.

      Liked by 1 person

  11. I have wondered also why it’s taken so long. When I was at uni, I saw a new solar sheet it was like a roll of film but was told it was too expensive to roll out so they’ve taken it off shore. Despite that, it’s great to finally read how much energy is now coming from solar. So many more roofs and even the side of sky scrapers that could one day have some one day.

    Liked by 3 people

        1. Maybe with the east west orientation that Brian (bushboy) mentioned becoming more popular, the sides of skyscrapers could begin to be utilised. Maybe you should patent it just in case!! Lol.

          Liked by 1 person

Everyone is important. What do you have to say?

Please log in using one of these methods to post your comment:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.