I love living in this part of the world. We have been gifted the most extraordinary climate – and it suits me to a tee. Among all my favourite pursuits, I place the chance to be outdoors at the top of the list. Whether it’s exercising, fishing, time with family or just soaking in the surroundings, south-east Queensland is the ideal location.
But little thought is sometimes given to the concept of what this powerhouse sun-drenched weather can actually deliver those of us who get to call this wonderful part of the world home.
Solar power is arguably the highest profile alternative energy source doing the rounds in conversation today.
According to the Australian Renewable Energy Agency, solar photovoltaic (PV) panels – or the commonly established solar roof panels we place on our homes – generated approximately 10 per cent of Australia’s electricity in 2020-21. And the appetite for solar is growing faster than for any other power generation source. More than 30 per cent of Australian households now have rooftop solar.
And our embracing of solar was made patently clear during the federal election in May this year. Campaign platforms around climate change and alternatives to fossil fuels were most prominent among Labor, Green and Teal independent candidates. Among the raft of proposals taken to the electorate, addressing the climate crisis was prominent and response at the ballot box reflected the Australian population’s hunger for more to be done in this field.
Along with house-by-house adoption of solar power generation is large-scale infrastructure designed to service multiple households. Solar investment by government and private organisations is on the rise. Large scale solar farms which generate power via fields of PV panels are expanding in size and number. As at June 2021, almost 7000 megawatts of large-scale solar generation had been connected to the grid. This is 20 times higher than in 2016. The capital cost of established large scale farms has also decreased by 25 per cent over the past seven years – a factor that should stimulate even more investment.
Solar on the home front
This massive investment in solar is certainly boosting morale among those looking for ways to slow climate change and ease our reliance on coal, but what can the energy source mean for individual homeowners?
The cost of investing in solar at your home is a sizeable financial commitment, but as technology advances it is also decreasing in cost. A report on www.thesolarnerd.com said the base price of solar equipment hardware has fallen by close to 90 per cent since 2010. While that’s an astounding saving, it should be recognised that the cost of installation has not reduced by that much. In addition, inflationary pressures caused by myriad factors including supply chain delays have meant that most of the savings from advanced production technology have been eaten up by supply chain issues and freight costs.
Most adequate home solar installations will cost $10,000 to $15,000 but of course progressive savings on your energy bill will pay down that capital expenditure over time.
Solar as a home energy source is very reliable. Ongoing advancement in the technology has developed durable PV cells that require minimal maintenance. The energy they generate is consistent too because of continued improvements in storage technology. While the cells themselves only generate power under sunlight, battery storage means homes can continue to be powered at night or during inclement weather. For example, Tesla’s Powerwall 2 battery can store 13.5 kilowatt hours of power. Depending on your consumption, that could easily keep a household running a full day or more without sunshine.
Another less quantifiable advantage to solar is that it’s considered a property feature by homeowners and renters alike. Solar power generation adds not just a feel-good factor for the home’s residents, it also reduces energy bills from major providers. As a result, you could feasibly get a rental premium for your investment property if solar is connected.
Buyers will also pay extra for homes that have comprehensive solar generation in today’s market. We regularly include solar among the features in our property listings.
As a bonus, solar systems allow you to deduct 10 per cent of their cost each year from your taxable income under the diminishing value method of depreciation. This would apply only to investment properties of course, but it is another reason why you should consider the outlay in your rental.
Solar systems can also be easily installed as a retrofit feature. There’s no need to have a solar system in situ at the time of construction. Systems fitted to an existing home by well-qualified technicians can be as effective and cost efficient as those placed in new homes during their build.
Combine it with a charger for your electric vehicle and the benefits of switching to this renewable power source are compounded.
No matter how you approach it, investment in solar generation is a path forward for a range of stakeholders. Why not embrace the new wave and make solar a welcome addition to your home or investment?