New landmark for Australian solar industry as 2mn homes harness power of the Sun
This week, the number of Australian solar power installations reached the landmark figure of 2mn. According to a report by Energy Matters, the figure is “a milestone for the young solar industry”.
Kane Thornton, head of the Australian Clean Energy Council, said that the milestone is great news for Australians. “Homes with rooftop solar installed are saving on average of about $540 per year on their electricity bills”.
Currently, an estimated 20.3% of Australian households have installed solar power systems, leading to the national rooftop solar capacity being estimated at 7.9GW. Across the country, Queensland is the national leader for home solar, with almost 600,000 homes fitted with panels. According to Energy Matters, “the Australian Energy Market Operator estimates six solar panels per minute are being installed across Australia.”
According to a report released last year by the Australia Institute, “a rapid renewable energy transition would subsequently generate 58,554 jobs each year for 11 years.”
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On Friday, ABC News Australia reported that the Australian “renewable energy industry has built itself up to such a significant scale that even 50 per cent by 2030, the renewables target being pursued by the Federal Labor Party, would involve a significant contraction in activity and employment in the industry.”
By 2030, the data suggests that Australia could be as much as 80% powered by renewables like solar and wind. Green Energy Matters director, Tristan Edis, told ABC News that "the amount of solar capacity we're on track to have operational by 2021 will mean competitive conditions in the wholesale market” during peak times. Currently, the renewables sector is expected to pressure the Australian government to revise its clean energy targets, hopefully avoiding a contraction in the market.
All but two UK regions failing on school energy efficiency
Most schools are still "treading water" on implementing energy efficient technology, according to new analysis of Government data from eLight.
Yorkshire & the Humber and the North East are the only regions where schools have collectively reduced how much they spend on energy per pupil, cutting expenditure by 4.4% and 0.9% respectively. Every other region of England increased its average energy expenditure per pupil, with schools in Inner London doing so by as much as 23.5%.
According to The Carbon Trust, energy bills in UK schools amount to £543 million per year, with 50% of a school’s total electricity cost being lighting. If every school in the UK implemented any type of energy efficient technology, over £100 million could be saved each year.
Harvey Sinclair, CEO of eEnergy, eLight’s parent company, said the figures demonstrate an uncomfortable truth for the education sector – namely that most schools are still treading water on the implementation of energy efficient technology. Energy efficiency could make a huge difference to meeting net zero ambitions, but most schools are still lagging behind.
“The solutions exist, but they are not being deployed fast enough," he said. "For example, we’ve made great progress in upgrading schools to energy-efficient LED lighting, but with 80% of schools yet to make the switch, there’s an enormous opportunity to make a collective reduction in carbon footprint and save a lot of money on energy bills. Our model means the entire project is financed, doesn’t require any upfront expenditure, and repayments are more than covered by the energy savings made."
He said while it has worked with over 300 schools, most are still far too slow to commit. "We are urging them to act with greater urgency because climate change won’t wait, and the need for action gets more pressing every year. The education sector has an important part to play in that and pupils around the country expect their schools to do so – there is still a huge job to be done."
North Yorkshire County Council is benefiting from the Public Sector Decarbonisation Scheme, which has so far awarded nearly £1bn for energy efficiency and heat decarbonisation projects around the country, and Craven schools has reportedly made a successful £2m bid (click here).
The Department for Education has issued 13 tips for reducing energy and water use in schools.