RENEWABLE PHOTOVOLTAIC ENERGY IN AUSTRALIA Summary
Australia has a high potential for the generation of solar energy since it experiences a dry climate, which makes it be referred as the Sunburnt country. There has been an increase in the installation of photovoltaic systems in households to provide electricity directly from solar energy. Since solar energy naturally comes from the sun, it is renewable and sustainable. Whether winter or summer, the country continues to receive sunlight, which constantly supplies Australians with solar energy. Solar energy, therefore, has many financial advantages for Australians. The electricity bills have been reduced through the use of solar energy. A household or a business has only to incur the initial cost of buying the equipment required and installation. Many Australians view its use as an investment because the initial cost is eventually covered up by the benefits that are conferred by solar energy in less than ten years. The users can sell their excess electricity if they generate more than they can consume thereby making it a financial adventure, which has been facilitated by the introduction of net metering and feed-in tariff. By going solar, Australians have increased their homes’ value. For every dollar saved annually in costs of solar energy, the home’s value increases by 2 times the annual energy savings thereby making them sell faster and at an increased amount compared to homes that do not make use of solar energy. The available government and industry programs help Australians finance their solar investments, which makes solar projects less expensive. For example, the net cost of the PV system can be as low as half the original cost, which is a significant saving for Australians. Furthermore, the use of solar energy has provided a new avenue for economic development in rural areas.
Australia has vast resources and extensive sunshine that gives it a high potential for Photovoltaic (PV) solar energy production. Through Photovoltaic cells, solar energy is converted directly into electricity. The photovoltaic system of energy production utilizes solar panels that are made of several solar cells to make them supply usable sunlight power. The Australian climate is dry, and its latitude gives it a high advantage and potential for the production of solar energy. Solar energy is renewable and sustainable since it comes from a natural resource – the sun. Since the source is inexhaustible, there is a finite supply of energy for Australians that cannot be replenished (WWF Australia 2004).
According to Clean Energy Council of Australia, the installed solar capacity in Australia has grown 35 times from what it was seven years ago (WWF Australia 2004, p. 1). The use of sun in power households has helped reduce the electricity bills and carbon footprints because it has given the Australians access to a renewable source of energy (Patrinos & Bradley 2009). Solar photovoltaic energy is the only source that can easily be deployed on a building level and give direct financial benefits to both businesses and homes. Australia is the sunburnt country, which means that it experiences more radiations of solar per square kilometer compared to other places in the world. It, therefore, does not matter if it is winter or summer as the country is always receiving sunlight that provides the residents with a constant supply of solar energy. The use of solar panels by the Australians has helped them to make the most out of this energy source.
The solar power systems or the PV solar systems have long-term financial benefits. Although the users incur initial start-up and set-up costs, the upfront expenditure is viewed as an investment for a household since the initial cost of buying equipment and installation is covered for by the benefits. The payback period after the initial installation of the system is mostly less than ten years, which has been estimated to be around seven years before the monthly savings meet the total cost of the system. For example, installing a water heater for $4,000 can save a household around $50 a month on the power bill, which means that the system pays for itself in almost 7 years.
Since Australians can generate their electricity, they worry less about power bills as it was the case before. The utility companies are notorious for their unreliable and fluctuating prices of electricity. It is estimated that by using solar panels by households, there can be a monthly saving of more than $100. By leasing or choosing power purchase agreements to help to finance solar panels, the upfront costs of a solar panel system are eliminated or reduced hence enabling Australians to save money. Homeowners can choose to finance their solar panels with any pay-as-you-go financing options where a third party company, usually a solar provider is the owner of the solar system and takes all the costs of installation, maintenance, and repairs, which allows the users to pay the solar provider for the power, a cost that is less than what they would have paid utility companies.
Furthermore, in case a panel produces more electricity than a household can consume, the excess can be sold out to the grid. This means that solar panels are used, in this case, to protect households against future increases of prices for electricity that is produced from the more traditional sources that include gas, oil, and coal. Net metering and feed-in tariff schemes have been introduced by the government to enable homeowners to sell their excess electricity and receive bill credits. Currently, users can reduce their dependence on fossil fuels since they generate their electricity from a renewable source.
The use of solar energy has provided a new avenue for economic development in rural areas. Moreover, the solar energy generation projects continue to create new vibrant industries in the local communities thereby making contributions to the entire society since the economy has not been thriving in such areas, which means that Australians in rural areas are now financially empowered as they can go about businesses like those in urban areas.
Installation of solar systems increases the home value since homes with solar panels sell faster and more as compared to homes with no solar energy system installations, which is because solar panels increase the attractiveness of homes on the market.
Solar energy has the potential to provide Australians with affordable and clean electricity. The users benefit from reduced costs through resource savings and eco-efficiencies bring about increased revenue. In addition, the use of solar energy has reduced health risks and finance costs are significantly cut as it limits the adverse effects of fluctuating and high prices of natural gases. Businesses that use solar energy end up enhancing their reputational capital and are eventually considered socially responsible. Since solar energy is a sustainable energy resource, it avoids the depletion of natural resources for future generations (Department of Industry 2003).
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