Australian Government Invests in Solar Energy
In 2006, Australia woke up to the necessity of investing in renewable sources of energy. Since then, the country has encouraged the creation of green power plants that, by the end of 2012, were capable of generating around 13% of the overall energy required.
Looking at recent data from the Clean Energy Council, we can see that the largest amount of green power comes from hydroelectric plants (67.2%). Solar PV is only in 4th place (2.3%), preceded by wind energy (21.9%) and Bioenergy (8.5%).
Although the share of solar is still low, Australia possesses unique conditions to become a world leader in the solar market. Specialists say that the country could easily meet its total power demand through solar alone.
Solar energy in Australia is still a recent phenomenon. Yet, recognising its potential, some states have agressively encouraged the installation of solar plants by introducing tariffs for households and educational programs. In South Australia, for instance, the initiative resulted in the installation of photovoltaics on the rooftops of public buildings, from schools to the Adelaide Airport, the State Parliament and the Art Gallery.
Why is Australia investing in solar energy?
Recently, a huge undertaking that aims to New South Wales (NSW) the leading solar state in Australia, was announced by the government. According to Rob Stokes, the state’s Environment Minister, the project is expected to be the “Australia’s answer to California”.
The objective is to replicate the American solar industry’s drive to switch from regular power supplies to solar PV. Today, California, a northern American state has the highest number of solar panels installed in the US, largely driven by the Million Solar Initiative.
The environment ministry is not only committed to achieve 20% of energy demand through renewable energy, but also to create the conditions for the creation of a sustainable solar market: “we are intent on making NSW the place in Australia to do business, if you are in the clean energy sector”, he added.
The new policies also take into account the government’s own buildings. Speaking to the media, Rob Stokes said that it would be necessary to conduct a property audit in order to evaluate the current energy consumed and find the best solar solution. One of the goals is to create sustainable government offices, capable of generating 1/3 of their electricity needs through solar panels installed.
In his own words, “the New South Wales Government is one of the biggest consumers in the state and this new policy will increase the resource efficiency and free up funds for frontline Government services”.
Wind power and other renewable energy proposals
According to him, the investment in solar energy would also be a way to reduce the need for wind energy. Although wind power production is clean, the minister refers to the necessity of creating noise guidelines to ensure the welfare of people who live near to wind farms.
The new policy also defines the percentage of money that shall be invested into renewable projects and says that the government shall improve the fuel efficiency standards for new light vehicles by 2017.
With such measures, Australia has been consolidating its role as a major player in the solar market. Like India, the country represents a great opportunity for individuals or businesses that want to invest in solar energy, by offering great conditions and support.