Australian news, and some related international items

Country Victoria taking to solar power, ahead of Melbourne

Solar Power – Regional Victoria Gets It Energy Matters, 30 Aug 12,  Statistics recently released by the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) show uptake of solar power technology outside of Melbourne to be higher than in the state’s capital city.

In Melbourne, 4% of households had solar hot waterand 5% had solar panel systems in October 2011. However, in the rest of the Victoria, 9% of households had solar hot water installed and 8% had solar panels. Uptake has probably increased substantially since October last year, but these results help quash one of the many myths of solar power – that only well-to-do big city folks can afford it.

The ABS report also notes peak demand for electricity in the state has been growing much faster than overall electricity demand. This has been attributed to Victorians increasing their use of air conditioning on very hot days.  In Victoria, 1.6 million or 74% of households use at least one air conditioner for cooling.

Electricity is a particularly thorny issue in the state, not just due to rapidly rising power costs but also with regard to generation; as much of Victoria’s power comes from brown-coal – one of the filthiest fossil fuels.

According to Melbourne-based Energy Matters, a good quality 5kW solar panel system installed in Melbourne can generate electricity bill savings in the vicinity of $1,420 a year.   However, while Victoria currently has the best solar feed in tariff incentive in Australia – up to 33c per kilowatt hour – a Victorian Competition and Efficiency Commission (VCEC) recommendation suggested slashing the incentive under a new program.

The Victorian Government is still considering the VCEC’s findings and continues to play secret squirrel on when changes, if any, will be made.

While Victoria’s Department Of Primary Industries’ web site says consumers should “ignore pressure from solar companies to ‘get in quick'”, there is certainly precedent in Australia for sudden-death solar rebate and incentive changes and the DPI offers no guarantees; except that any changes won’t be retrospective.

Results from the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) 2011 State Supplementary Survey – Household Water and Energy Use – conducted during October 2011 across Victoria can be viewed in full here.

August 30, 2012 - Posted by | solar, Victoria

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