Battler Households Driving Western Australia’s Solar Uptake

In Western Australia, like elsewhere in the nation, solar power uptake isn’t being driven by the rich, but by the mortgage belt.

Western Australia now boasts over 100,000 rooftop solar power systems across Perth and the South West.

According to The West Australian, figures provided by Synergy show the southern suburb of Canning Vale had highest number of solar panel installations (2239) as of December 19, followed by Thornlie (1513), Baldivis (1376), Willetton (1299) and Ellenbrook (1198).

None of Perth’s affluent suburbs featured in Synergy’s top 20 list of solar panel installations in Western Australia.

The results again bust the myth that solar rebates and subsidies have primarily benefited the wealthy. Western Australia’s experience has been repeated throughout the country.

In an analysis of solar energy systems installed under the Renewable Energy Target carried out last year by REC Agents Association (RAA); the Association found suburbs with the highest solar uptake were typically in the outer metropolitan mortgage belt.

The Clean Energy Council’s Solar Power Australia 2011-12 report states over half of solar households have an annual income of less that $100,000 annually and more than a quarter earn less than $65,000 a year.

Uptake of solar panels is being driven primarily by ongoing and substantial electricity price rises.

According to solar provider Energy Matters, a 3kW solar power system installed in Perth will generate more than 12kWh a day on average. Based on the price of a good quality system supplied and installed by the company; the electricity produced will work out to cost under 6c per kilowatt hour over the life of the system – far cheaper than retail rates.

Households in Western Australia can also benefit from the state’s feed in tariff that pays 8 – 50c per kilowatt hour for surplus electricity exported to the mains grid, depending on location. Solar feed in tariff incentives are also available in other states; but with the price of electricity so expensive now the focus is increasingly on self-consumption.