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?
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.
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.
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.
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.
|Year||Systems Installed||Running Total|
This repressed environmentalist is smiling a little more now.