Northern Rivers residents are among the state’s top generators of electricity from rooftop solar panels. And despite governments cutting back subsidies for solar systems, demand for them only gets bigger as power bills surge, but panels get cheaper.
While Dubbo has emerged as the solar-power capital of NSW with more than a quarter (28 per cent), of households having installed solar panels, the Alstonville, Rous and Meerschaum Vale postcode of 2477 scored second place with 21.2 per cent.
Third was the postcode 2486 area of Banora Point, Tweed Heads South, Bilambil with 20 per cent, while Murwillumbah (2484) came in sixth with 18.4 per cent.
Ballina and Lennox Head scored 17.3 per cent while Brunswick Heads, Ocean Shores and Billinudgel came in at ninth place with 16.6 per cent.
The new data, from the federal Office of the Renewable Energy Regulator, shows regional towns and coastal areas are the state’s brightest spots for the technology.
Clean Energy Council (CEC) acting chief executive Kane Thornton said the latest figures show NSW has claimed the top solar postcode honours from Queensland’s Caloundra region, which topped the list this time last year.
More than 8.5 per cent of NSW houses have installed solar power, just behind the national average of nine per cent.
Mr Thornton says that while inner-city suburbs often have some of the lowest rates of solar installation, those in regional and lower-income suburbs, retirement belts and some coastal regions have embraced solar in the highest numbers.
This suggested those most exposed to rising power bills were more likely to invest in a solar system.
‘With the price of panels now about a third of what it was just three years ago, many people see solar power as a way to save on their energy bills as well as do something for the environment,’ he said.
‘We now have around 600,000 solar power systems in Australia, but really we are just in the early stages of tapping in to the power of this technology. Solar panels are fast becoming the Hills Hoist of the 21st century.’
The not-for-profit CEC is the peak body for the clean-energy sector, representing more than 600 solar, wind, geothermal, hydro, wave, bioenergy, cogeneration and energy-efficiency companies. More information at www.cleanenergycouncil.org.au.