- By Amanda Pelligra
- Published 02/11/2012
Solar energy is about a natural source of energy as you can get. Energy from solar panels is sustainable and renewable, unlike our current major sources of energy. It does not contribute to global warming, as it does not contaminate the air by releasing carbon dioxide or other pollutants. The use of solar energy for homes and businesses can help reduce transport of fuel that would otherwise be used for heating, further reducing carbon emissions. Australia currently has an estimated 300 MW of installed photovoltaic (PV) power. This data is based as on September 2010. This contributes an estimated 0.1 to 0.2% of total electricity production as of July 2009 despite the hot and sunny climate that would make it ideal for utilisation. Feed-in tariffs and mandatory renewable energy targets are designed to assist renewable energy commercialisation in Australia. Australia having dry climate and the latitude on which it is located actually provides high potential to produce much more than what is being produced currently. Most of the Australian continent receives in excess of 4 kWh per square metre per day of insolation during winter months, with a region in the north exceeding 6 kWh/day. Australia’s insolation greatly exceeds the average values in Europe, Russia, and most of North America. Comparable levels are found in desert areas of northern and southern Africa, south western United States and adjacent area of Mexico, and regions on the Pacific coast of South America. The only challenge however, are the areas of Australia with highest insolation are in the interior which are away from population centres.
June 2009 the Australian Government provided a rebate program that offered up to A$8,000 rebates for installing solar panels on homes and community use buildings (other than schools), through the Solar Homes and Communities Plan. However, on 8 June 2009, this program was phased out, to be replaced by the Solar Credits Program, where an installation of a solar system would receive 5 times as many Renewable Energy Certificates for the first 1.5 kilowatts of capacity under the Renewable Energy Target Feed in tariffs are being introduced by a number of states to boost the amount of solar PV power generated. This can be defined by a number of factors including the price paid, whether it is on a net or gross basis, the length of time for which the scheme is guaranteed, the maximum size of installation allowed to benefit, the type of customer allowed to participate. Current Australian State tariffs are only net basis tariffs, whereas conservation groups are arguing for gross feed in tariffs. From March 2009 the Australian Capital Territory (ACT) has introduced a solar gross feed in tariff. For systems up to 10 kW the payment is 50.05 cents per kWh. For systems from 10 kW to 30 kW the payment is 40.04 cents per kWh.
“Solar Credits” is the name given to the Australian government’s latest solar subsidy for homeowners, businesses and community groups. It was passed into law on 20th August 2009, but the policies keep changing the details of the rebate usually reducing it with very little notice!. It subsidises the cost of installing a Solar Power System and unlike the scheme before it which was means-tested at a household income of $100,000 this subsidy is not means tested in any way. After all being part of the world safeguarding the environment makes you feel proud.