Friday, January 25, 2013

The Solar Alternative

When I was visiting Adelaide, just after Christmas, I was pleased to see how many homes had installed solar panels on their roofs. Yes, I am back on the roof again. It had been 18 months since I was last in Adelaide, and the change was astonishing. I would estimate that up to one in three homes had panels, at least in the area where I was staying. Coming back up here to sunny far north Queensland, the proportion is much lower.

It is great to see so many Australians (particularly in the south) embracing the solar alternative. Of course, the motivation for this is largely financial, rather than environmental. Now that solar panels have become less expensive, it is possible to make a fairly quick return on your investment, particularly with power companies paying for energy fed back into the grid. It has always been my belief (or, at least, my hope) that the conflict between economics and green policies would prove to be a furphy in the medium to long term. (I probably need another aside here to explain that “furphy” is an Australian slang term for an exaggerated story, a false report or a rumour.) The use of solar panels is hopefully an early example of this.

My hope is that it will soon be compulsory for all new buildings, be they private homes or otherwise, to include solar panels during construction. This would represent a fairly small impost in the context of any building project. 


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