Solar eclipse-ing fossil fuels

Solar energy is experiencing a stratospheric rise to acceptance in communities across Australia.

At least 2.6 million Australians are using solar energy systems to power more than one million homes. As of April 2015, that’s more than one-tenth the national population.

Such widespread adoption, combined with the economies of scale, has meant solar’s more affordable in Australia than many other places in the world. The average solar panel now costs around 75% less than it did just five years ago.

A job creator

And the story gets even better. Solar is not just more cost effective, it’s been described as “the people’s choice” by the Climate Council, it creates jobs and it is securing a bright future for the Australian economy in places like R&D.

Even though Australia is widely thought of as a minerals or fossil-fuel economy, the solar energy industry employs a substantial number of Australians. In 2014, for example, the 4,300 solar energy companies in Australia employed 13,300 people. That’s more than two Sydney Opera Houses at capacity.

Aussies are leading the way

The high level of employment likely explains why Australia is, according to the Australian Government, a “global leader in solar research” and “at the forefront of solar innovation.” As just one example, the current world record for the highest performing, most efficient solar energy system sits with the University of New South Wales for their “Power Cube”: capable of converting 40.1% of sunlight into electricity.

Reliability and security

Moreover, household solar energy systems can improve the reliability and efficiency of the grid by lowing congestion.

And as solar is reliant on self-sustaining panels and batteries, the benefits for Australians also flow into national energy security. Greater solar energy usage by Australian homes helps minimise the risk of blackouts, interruptions, and accidents.

In fact, the United Nations Environment Program has noted that small-scale renewable energy sources, such as solar, can in­crease security by reducing the number of large and vulnerable targets on the grid, providing insulation in the event of a major outage, and minimise foreign dependence on technology.

Solar is not only on a rising global trajectory, it’s a smart choice for reasons well beyond economics. It can bring low-cost, clean electricity to Australian households, promote jobs and innovation, improve energy security and enhance the reliability of the grid.

It’s the smarter choice.