When you think of solar, you probably think of vast fields of black panels at large-scale solar farms, producing enormous quantities of power.
But Australia’s real solar engine, at least for the time being, is a much more humble sight.
It is small collections of solar panels on ordinary homes and businesses around the country.
At 2.8 per cent, rooftop solar contributes far more to Australia’s total energy mix than largescale solar, which currently comes in at around a quarter of a per cent.
Claire O’Rourke is the national director of Solar Citizens, a group which lobbies for private solar owners.
“It’s not the inner-city latte-sippers who are going solar,” she said.
“It’s definitely the highest uptake around those urban fringe areas and in regional areas as well where you’ll see in some areas 30-40 per cent of homes with solar on rooftops.”
There are nearly 1.6 million Australian homes with solar panels on their rooftops.
To put it in perspective, 1.4 million of those homes took up solar installations in the last decade.
“These are kind of remarkable figures for an industry that was seen as more of a cottage industry 15 or 20 years ago where it was kind of off-grid hippies that were taking it up,” Ms O’Rourke said.
“But it’s very much a mainstream option for people to manage their energy use and also to take control of their rising power bills.”
According to the Grattan Institute, consumers in Melbourne, Sydney, Brisbane and Adelaide are paying nearly twice as much for electricity as they were a decade ago.
Ms O’Rourke said that was part of the reason rooftop solar had been booming.
“Prices have gone up, bills have gone up, and the other contributing factor is that the costs of solar has rapidly decreased,” she said.
“So if you look at a bit of technical analysis, it’s dropped from $9-a-watt for out-of-pocket expenses on installing a solar system, to $1.60.
“So it’s like an 80 per cent decrease in out-of-pocket installation costs in only a decade.”
Read the full article at ABC News.