Over the holiday season, I asked one of our dedicated readers, a solar energy expert from Australia, a few questions about the solar situation in Australia. What I got in return was a full post! Check it out:
The cost of rooftop solar continues to fall and in Australia it has dropped by about a third since September 2011. According to Solar Choice, the average installed cost of rooftop solar for households last month was $2.19 US per watt. As most Australians who own a roof can currently borrow money at around 7% or less, this means the cost of electricity from rooftop solar for the typical Australian is now about 12 cents a kilowatt-hour, which is less than half the average cost of grid electricity in Australia.
Thanks to Renewable Energy Certificates, Australian households don’t pay the full cost of their solar systems. How much they save depends on location, but from the first of this month most people will save about 68 cents a watt. So if the cost of solar power remains the same as last month, this means the full cost of new solar in Australia, including our 10% Goods and Services tax, now averages about $2.87 a watt. This makes the full cost of electricity produced about 15 cents a kilowatt-hour, which is still close to half what Australians pay for grid electricity.
Rooftop solar used to receive extra Renewable Energy Certificates, but in a surprise move this was ended six months early, beginning from the first of this month, and solar now receives the same amount as any other renewable energy project. As a result, solar system prices may go up this month, but there is a good chance the solar industry will absorb most of the increase. If it doesn’t, we can expect a bump in solar system prices before their downward trend continues.
As solar electricity is now about half the cost of power from the grid and is by far the cheapest source of electricity available to households, unless there is a very large drop in the cost of daytime grid electricity, we can expect rooftop solar’s rapid expansion to continue and result in a large decrease in Australia’s CO2 emissions. Personally, I am hoping solar will expand extremely rapidly, as I have had about all the global warming I can handle. The temperature for tomorrow here in Adelaide is forecast to be 44 degrees Celsius. That’s seven degrees above body temperature. If my air conditioner dies, I may die. So please, I beg you, consider installing a rooftop solar system no matter where you are. If not for my sake, then for all the people in India and Africa and other places who don’t have air conditioning.
About Ronald Brakels: I live in Adelaide, South Australia, and I’m really bad at writing short bios about myself. I’m interested in clean energy and protecting the environment, but you probably could have guessed that from the context. While I don’t claim to have any great mathematical skills I am proud to be able to say I have addition, subtraction, multiplication, and division down pat, which appears to be a superpower in some parts of the internet. And in a lot of politics as well. Also, I have vague memories of studying statistics at some point. I enjoy long walks on the beach and so would like them to remain above sea level. I have a blog under the name Ronald Brak, but it’s mostly one bad taste joke after another, so don’t go there.