Staggering levels of solar investment brings windfalls for Australian families

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Gold rush times have arrived in Australia again, but instead of digging holes for prosperity, a new report from Solar Citizens shows it is coming from the sky. The State of Solar report has evaluated the benefits of Australia’s solar rooftop boom, and found that Australian families are pocketing $1 billion in savings each year thanks to their personal investments in the technology. One in five Australians now live in house with solar on the roof, but despite the huge appetite for renewable development, the Turnbull government has continued the fight the Abbott government started with the future, conducting three separate raids on Clean Energy Finance Corporation (CEFC) funding for election campaign pork-barrelling. Considering the CEFC generates taxpayers an estimated $1.80 for every $1 invested, and that moving to 100% renewables by 2050 would deliver total savings of $90 billion in the same period, huge questions hang over the Coalition government’s ability to deliver the clean, renewable future Australians – including the Prime Minister’s constituents – want.

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Key Points

  • Strong investment in renewables has huge financial and employment benefits, but it also pays massive dividends on climate action. In 2016 alone, Australia’s rooftop solar generators will prevent around 6,301,000 tonnes of greenhouse gas from polluting our environment – the equivalent of taking one-third of all trucks off Australian roads. The primary driver for purchasing rooftop solar is financial, with 60 per cent of respondents to a January survey by Solar Citizens saying this was their motivation to invest in the technology, but these same respondents expressed greater satisfaction with the environmental impacts of their solar energy choice than the financial return (95 per cent compared to 88 per cent).
  • Australians understand renewables are the future, it well and truly time for politicians to listen to their constituents and get on board with the transition to 100 per cent renewables. Five million people now live under a solar powered roof, not only giving Australia the highest levels of rooftop solar in the world, but also creating a huge segment of voters that understand the benefits of renewable energy and are more likely to look poorly upon a Government that doesn’t seem to “get it”. In 2014-15 financial year, Australians invested $1.23 billion dollars in rooftop solar from their own pockets according to Solar Citizens. By comparison, investment in all large scale solar energy projects in the same period was around $118 million. Given Bloomberg New Energy Finance is forecasting staggering growth in renewable investment globally, it is not a big leap to imagine voters rapidly becoming disenfranchised with attacks and intransigence on renewables by their elected representatives.

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Key Quotes

  • “The results are simply staggering, $8bn of out-of-pocket investment in rooftop solar pv over the last decade, $4.4bn in bill savings and in terms of environmental benefits, 6 million tonnes of CO2 expected to be averted in 2016 alone. Australian political leaders need to understand just how much the average Australian themselves have committed of their own money to play a part in the transition of our power system. With 5 million Australians (or 1 in 5 voters) living under a solar roof, this is potent political constituency.” – National Director of Solar Citizens, Claire O’Rourke
  • “The Turnbull government is again showing utter hypocrisy by raiding the Clean Energy Finance Corporation for its latest election stunt. This government has twice tried to axe the Clean Energy Finance Corporation. It’s tried to axe the Australian Renewable Energy Agency (ARENA), it’s taken the axe to the Renewable Energy Target and now it plans to slash $1.3 billion from ARENA. Today’s announcement is not new money. It is simply using the Clean Energy Finance Corporation as its slush fund. For the first time in the Australian Solar Council’s 50-year history, we are calling on voters to put the Liberal Party last.” – Australian Solar Council chief John Grimes
  • “Since the 2013 election, voter concern about climate change has surged almost 20 per cent to 72 per cent, a marked rebound from the lowest levels just prior to introducing the carbon pricing mechanism in 2012. After ten turbulent years, Australian business and the voting public have tapped into international trends about the economic and environmental benefits of climate action. Our main political parties urgently need to catch up.” – Climate Institute CEO, John Connor

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