Solar power now taking off in a big way in Western Australia
West Australians embrace solar panels at record rate http://www.abc.net.au/news/2017-01-31/solar-power-embraced-by-west-australians-at-record-rate/8227194 By Kathryn Diss WA households and businesses are installing solar panels at a record rate, with installations up 33 per cent last year, driven by rising power prices and the falling cost of the technology, new research has found.
The data, compiled by solar industry consultancy SunWiz, also revealed ten of the nation’s top 20 solar-adopting suburbs were in WA, with Wanneroo, Mandurah and Armadale leading the way.
Sunwiz managing director Warwick Johnston said two factors were driving the uptake in WA.
“We’re seeing solar prices have come down to levels they’ve never been before — prices in Perth are at their lowest compared to the eastern states — and we’re also seeing the electricity price rises really kicking in in Western Australia”, he said.
“In Perth electricity prices started climbing again and [are] expected to do so for a number of years, so I think that’s in people’s minds, in people’s consciousness when they’re thinking about solar power.
“Those factors are really making solar something people are interested in.”
The huge uptake in solar panels during 2016 provided a boon for solar installers across the state.
Solargain WA sales manager James Baverstock has been selling solar panels since 2008 but 2016 was his best year yet, with unprecedented sales during the last three months of the year.
“Towards the end of 2016 we saw record numbers — we were 80 per cent up compared to the same time during the previous year,” he said.
“The average size of the system has also gone up, we’ve seen that go up a kilowatt to a kilowatt and a half. That’s been a steady increase and [it has] certainly accelerated a little bit more recently.
The research came as more than 40 interest groups joined forces in WA to call for action on climate change. Headed by doctors, farmers and church groups, the coalition wants the government to commit to an ambitious renewable energy target of 100 per cent by 2030.
General practitioner Richard Yin spoke on behalf of the coalition and said a shift towards renewable energy was essential. “We understand the target is ambitious but it’s been modelled as being possible and it’s been modelled in such a way we believe it can achieved,” he said.
“Everything has a cost. To not proceed down this line has an effect on our climate, to not proceed has a health impact, the combustion from coal kills many thousands of people in Australia each year and the estimated cost is about $2.6 billion in terms of our health cost.” Former WA doctor and surgeon Kingsley Faulkner is also behind the movement.
He now chairs Doctors for the Environment and said climate change was having a big impact on public health.
“In medicine we have a real responsibility to not only treat individual patients but to be involved with public health matters, and climate change and other environmental challenges are amongst the biggest of those matters,” he said.
Increasing use of solar panels has come at a time when, according to the state’s economic watchdog, households are increasingly struggling to pay their power bills on time.
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