Residential power prices have jumped up to 135 per cent in some Australian states since 2007 and electricity costs for businesses have increased 50 per cent in just seven years.
Analysis carried out by the ANU’s Centre for Social Research and Methods, commissioned by The Australian, indicates an average rise of 106 per cent across Australia over the past 10 years.
But before renewables are blamed, along with Queensland (+135%), coal-reliant NSW and Victoria have both seen rises above 100%.
South Australia, vilified by some for its nation-leading progress on renewables; came in at fourth with an increase of 87%.
While South Australians have among the highest electricity bills, this has been the case since well before wind and solar power started making their presence felt; largely due to the tyranny of distance combined with a lower population density.
The pro and anti- renewables camps will no doubt duke it out over the figures, but the fact remains the hip pockets of Australians are hurting – and something that has the potential to quickly provide relief from power-point pain is solar power.
This technology, along with wind power, is also probably one of the reasons New South Wales didn’t suffer blackouts during the recent heatwave. Every solar household and business played a role in helping keep the lights on and air-conditioners cranking in NSW.
“It is now clear that solar (rooftop and large scale) was contributing more than 1GW to the grid during much of the day, and around 500MW in the late afternoon on Friday when the Australian Energy Market Operator had flagged the possibility of rolling blackouts,” says RenewEconomy’s Giles Parkinson.
Queensland was spared heatwave-related blackouts too; thanks in part to rooftop solar installed on hundreds of thousands of premises throughout the state.
More than 1.6 million Australian households and many thousands of businesses are reaping the benefits of installing solar panels – and providing other benefits to other Australians through reining in wholesale power prices to some degree.
According to Energy Matters, a 5.72 kilowatt solar power system can provide a financial benefit of up to $2,510 a year – even without energy storage – depending on installation location and electricity consumption profile. Installing a large array now can provide additional benefits if a suitable battery system is installed at a later date, including blackout protection.