2:40am – Energy Sector Group – Solar Projects

Rod Farrow

Several local solar energy projects that should return 7-10% on your investment and also help set the scene for a major solar energy industry in the Southern Highlands.

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Renewable Energy – Solar Power in Australia 2017

A study from 2016 reported that solar power provides just 1% of total worldwide electricity production but is growing at 33% per annum. Since its introduction as a primary source of renewable energy the role solar should play in Australia has been a contentious issue for government to balance. During the past few years solar energy has been growing in its importance to where in 2017 Australia now has 5,920 megawatts of PV (photovoltaic) installed. In the period from 2014-2015 solar energy contributed 2.4% of Australia’s total power consumption. In 2001, the Australian government introduced a mandatory renewable energy target (MRET) that set the objective that renewable energy obtain a 20% share of electricity supply in Australia by 2020. The scheme is set to last until 2030 and also supports other renewables including wind, hydro, landfill gas and geothermal. On the international level Australia has been criticised as not producing enough of its power via solar technology. It has been commented that Australia in particular has a very high potential for solar energy usage with its sunny climate and vast resources.

Australian government policy has been uneven with its support of solar energy initiatives. The first promotion of solar energy started in the 2000s and was called the Photovoltaic Rebate Program (PVRP), which was then renamed the Solar Homes and Communities Program (SHCP) in November 2007. It offered up to $8,000 in rebates to home owners and community use buildings installing solar panels, schools were funded up to $50,000. The SHCP was replaced with the Solar Credits Program in June 2009. Another solar initiative involves states setting up schemes to sell excess electricity generated by households using solar panels back to the electricity companies, also known as “feed-in.” The Solar Flagships program has provided $1.6 billion in funding for solar power over a 6 year period. In order for “coal power” level solar plants to be constructed further investment will be required by the builders and operators. The Renewable Energy Master Plan 2030 was announced in 2014 and involves the Council of Sydney attempting to make the city run 100% on renewable energy by 2030.

In 2017 energy prices from traditional suppliers has seen massive increases. These increases have led to a dramatic resurgence in solar panel uptake across all states, especially in South Australia where a spate of blackouts has led to a lack of confidence in regular supply. With electricity prices spiking solar has become the alternative for many families and businesses wanting to beat the price surges. Solar panels partner very well with batteries, which are also going through an incredible drive towards innovation and utility, when prices drop to affordable levels they will become commonplace. It almost seems inevitable that the future of domestic power will be to see solar panels with battery storage; this would not only save households from the large cost of electricity bills but also provide a green renewable energy source for the next generation.