Tuesday, January 17, 2006

Photovoltaic solar power is viable for Australian household rooftops: "Grid-connected solar systems mean homeowners can effectively sell their power by (sunny) day and buy it back at night, cutting electricity bills or doing away with them altogether and reducing or erasing their own environmental footprint.

"For a basic one-kilowatt start-up system, the dela Ramas paid more than $14,000, and received a rebate of about $3700 through the Australian Greenhouse Office. That's only enough extra power to cut their bill by 30 or 40 per cent. Crooks paid more than $40,000 for a much larger system capable of producing all his electricity, but qualified for almost $14,000 in subsidies before rebates were reduced in 2003.

"Australia's electricity is among the cheapest in the world and NSW enjoys some of the cheapest power in Australia. This means solar grid-connect systems won't realistically pay for themselves for decades.

"Most Australians are simply unwilling to invest their money in reducing greenhouse emissions. A recent survey by the Australian Bureau of Statistics found energy consumption patterns were driven by lifestyles and resources availability, 'not a desire to reduce energy use'.

"Of the 23 per cent of Australian householders who like the idea of 'green power', less than half are prepared to spend more than $100 extra a year to support it.

"'Solar power is technically proven and reliable, but compared to coal-fired power generation it's expensive. This is the real challenge for the industry,' says Ric Brazzale, executive director of the Australian Business Council for Sustainable Energy. 'We're fantastic at remote solar power for the bush. But we are rapidly falling behind countries like Germany, Spain, Japan, and even the United States, which are aggressively putting renewable power into cities.'"

There are at least two basic steps that could and should be taken to accelerate the deployment of PV solar cells:

1. Local government building and planning regulations which mandate the installation of grid-connected PV cells on every new home;

2. Introduction of the Carbon tax on polluters to make them pay for the destruction of the environment and to make clean and renewable energy more price competitive as it should be.

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