Residents make the move to solar
CENTRAL Highlanders are increasingly switching to solar energy as fears of electricity price increases loom on the back of the carbon tax.
Emerald-based solar installer Scott Black said more households were inquiring about the alternative energy source amid concerns of the Federal Government’s controversial plan to tax carbon emissions and combat climate change.
“The carbon tax is going to put power prices up, making it dearer for households,” Mr Black said.
“Solar energy will make it more affordable for families and the more solar energy that is generated, the less carbon that is emitted.
“It’s a win-win.”
But despite the long-term economic and environmental benefits of solar energy, Mr Black said people thinking of making the switch to green energy should be aware it was “not a quick fix”.
“In the long-term, there is no doubt that solar power is a cost-effective and energy efficient option but it’s not a quick solution to big power bills,” he said.
“A system costs around $12,900 after the (Federal Government) rebates and half-price discounts.
“That’s for a 3kW system which will produce about 12-15kW a day, which depending on how you manage your household energy consumption, is basically enough for the average family.”
Mr Black said the current electricity buy-back rate from Ergon Energy – Queensland’s largest electricity provider – was around $0.44, and consumers paid around $0.21 per kW.
But he maintained the amount of energy used per home was dependant on the people, not the system, and said he had installed about 30 systems in the Emerald region since the beginning of the year.
With another 30 lined up, Mr Black said the introduction of the carbon tax would potentially double, or triple, the amount of homes converting to solar energy.
“People are seeing it as a way for them to make some money,” he said.
“When I’ve finished installing a unit, the homeowner usually sits there, beer in hand, and watches the dial go backwards as they see the energy being generated through the panels.
“They can literally see how they’re making electricity.”
But David Donovan, an Emerald-based solar energy consultant, said homeowners should approach solar energy with caution and investigate alternative energy options as well as a renewable alternative.
“Solar energy, if you look carefully at how it is structured, will end up costing more than what you’d expect,” Mr Donovan said.
“The (Federal) Government rebates don’t come close enough to making it a better alternative to coal power.”
Mr Donovan said wind turbine was a better energy generator than solar power because it was not as dependant on seasons.
Solar energy, he said, only generated for an estimated five hours a day whereas wind turbines continually churned with minimal impact on the environment.
“The other problem with solar energy is that these blue solar panels the government is giving people rebates on don’t work once the temperature hits 42 degrees,” Mr Donovan said.
“There’s a mass drop in voltage production and therefore not as much going into the home which only gets about five hours worth of energy produced to begin with.
“Wind turbines, on the other hand, when they are built in an ideal spot, can create far more voltage and power a home far longer than solar.
“But even then, there are down-times when wind levels drop.”