How can I help my city save on solar energy?
Energy efficiency is key to reducing the cost of installing solar panels, and local governments are taking advantage of their ability to set up a pilot project for the solar industry.
In Victoria’s Sunshine Coast, for example, the state government is planning to install 30,000 solar panels on the outskirts of Melbourne’s CBD by 2021.
The project is part of the state’s new Energy Efficiency for Cities and Communities program.
“We’ve been able to put on a pilot for a number of years,” said Environment Minister Michael Russell.
“Solar panels are a key component of the program and we think that by using these solar panels in a more efficient way we can reduce the cost by 30 per cent, which is really important.”
But while local governments have made some significant strides in solar technology, they’ve also seen their investments in the industry fall.
According to a report released by the Australian Energy Market Operator, more than half of the projects that received federal funding between 2012 and 2016 were completed.
“We need to continue to invest in this industry and get it going again,” said Russell.
He believes the government will have to consider the long-term impact of this policy on the local solar industry in future.
“It’s going to have to be considered on a case-by-case basis,” he said.
But the government has been a champion of solar in the past, with the government funding $8 million worth of solar projects in Victoria.
A spokesman for the Victorian Energy Council said the government’s support for solar has meant that “many projects have gone ahead without a local input”.
“Solar is one of the fastest-growing technologies in Australia,” he added.
The spokesman said the Government’s support was important because it helped ensure that solar is “in every community” by providing “the best and most efficient systems”.
“It’s important that we look at all opportunities to invest, including new technologies and infrastructure, to ensure that our local community is benefiting from this emerging technology,” he told News.au.
Local councils have been able do some work on solar, but are still relying on private developers and utilities.
One of the biggest challenges local councils face is funding their projects.
Solar panels in the city of Melbourne cost between $300 and $500.
It’s hoped by 2020 that local councils will be able to invest up to $10 million into a solar project.
Despite the state funding, the government is not committing to fund any local solar projects.
A spokesperson for the Department of Energy and Resources said the state was working with the Victorian Government and other regional and local government bodies “to work through how they can work together to ensure they have the funding to support these innovative solar projects”.