More than one-third of Australians are locked out of access to clean energy from the sun because they rent, live in apartments, have unsuitable rooftops, or cannot afford the upfront cost of solar panels.
As a remedy for the lock-out, a coalition of 20 community groups has launched a ‘Solar For All’ campaign calling on state governments to give all Australians access to safe and affordable energy.
The coalition, led by the Community Power Agency, is calling for policy and funding support for solutions to solar lockout, including solar gardens. These are centralised solar panels that people can purchase a small share in; the electricity generated by these arrays is credited on consumers’ bills.
Founder and co-director Community Power Agency Nicky Ison, says that solar energy reduces people’s electricity bills and cuts climate pollution. ‘Everyone deserves to access these benefits, regardless of their living arrangements or income levels,’ she said.
‘Governments can easily fix this unfair situation in Australia by funding solar garden trials and solar rebates for low-income and locked-out households.
‘These simple solutions can help state governments deliver lower costs of living, better physical and mental health, and meaningful action on climate change. There are no downsides to this,’ said Ison.
Solar gardens are a proven concept. In the United States, 1.3GWs of solar gardens are operating across 40 states and saving members of these communities hundreds of dollars per year, while importantly reducing emissions.
Locally based electricity provider Enova Energy is already on board with solar gardens. Enova CEO Felicity Stening that Enova are already actively pioneering solar gardens because they believe in solar for all. ‘We aim to support communities throughout the country to establish solar gardens in the coming years,’ said Ms Stening.
‘The benefits of solar gardens are broad, but most importantly, they help make the rewards of renewable energy accessible. We believe people who are priced out of owning a home, or in units who don’t have a roof top, should not be excluded. We know that solar could cut household bills by hundreds of dollars a year, yet so many people can’t access savings due to lack of access,’ she said. ‘Enova supports the Solar For All campaign that’s asking elected leaders to quickly support solar gardens and rebates because we all deserve access to clean electricity’.