Investment in solar photovoltaic (PV) power has seen tremendous growth on a worldwide scale and Australia stands out as a global leader of the movement. This country of over 20 million residents boasts the highest density of small rooftop solar PV systems in the world: 16.5% of its households produce electricity on their own.
One-in-five Australians are living in a home that is powered by solar energy. This number is only expected grow as the nation’s number of rooftop solar system installations tripled between 2006 and 2010.
State of Solar Report Demonstrates Australian Citizens’ Love For Solar Power
Incredibly, this explosive household solar power growth is mainly driven by the citizenry, with politicization often serving as an impediment to the technology’s progress. According to Solar Citizens’ State of Solar report, over the most recent five-year period, Australian citizens have invested more than one billion dollars a year of their own money into small scale PV systems. Since the 2007-2008 fiscal year, these residents have spent just under eight billion dollars on the clean energy source.
Commissioned by the organization which represents the interests of solar PV owners, the study estimates statistics related to the costs and benefits of household solar systems. These statistics include average out-of-pocket investment, cost savings and carbon abatement.
“This report is designed to remind our political leaders of just how much Australians love their solar and have invested in it,” said Clare O’Rourke, National Director of Solar Citizens. “For those who would wish to represent us, it’s time they realized that the future is solar-powered.”
Economic Benefits of Australia’s Household Solar Investments
Some question whether the long-term financial gain from installing household solar panels is worth the initial out-of-pocket expenses. In Australia, since 2012-2013 the annual energy savings of one billion dollars is currently slightly below its annual investment amount of $1.2 billion a year. However, there are some nuances to consider when analyzing the economic benefits of the rooftop solar system movement.
One such residual gain that has resulted from the Australian citizens’ personal investments into household solar systems is the creation of tens of thousands of jobs. Additionally, household solar systems create energy where people live and work, lessening the need to construct and maintain costly infrastructure to transport electricity over great distances.
Environmental Benefits of Australia’s Investments in Household Solar Systems
Though more Australians state that the primary motivation behind their investment in household solar power is financial (60%), a healthy number (38%) confirmed that they were mainly driven by environmental factors. The State of Solar report calculates that 6.3 million tons of carbon dioxide emissions will be avoided due to PV system owners in Australia. To put that number in perspective, it is the equivalent of taking one-third of Australia’s trucks off the road. While the economic benefits of personal household solar systems can be debated, there is no denying the environmental gains.
The International Energy Association (IEA) predicts that solar energy will top coal as the world’s largest power source by 2050. No matter the motivation behind their out-of-pocket investment, Australian citizens are utilizing household solar systems to lead the global movement towards cleaner energy sources.
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