NSW Has a Long Way to Go
Compared to other states and territories, NSW is trailing behind the pack when it comes to transitioning to clean & affordable renewable energy. The percentage of renewable energy in NSW is less than half that of Tasmania, the ACT and South Australia – sitting at just over 12%.
While other states have been getting on with the job, the NSW Government has been dragging its feet. Just like their federal counterparts, the government has no renewable target to replace the national large-scale RET when it ends in 2020.
But here’s the sunny news: transitioning NSW to 100% clean, renewable energy is 100% doable. Research from UTS, CSIRO and UNSW (plus many more!) all show that making the switch to clean energy is technically possible and economically viable. In fact, Western NSW’s scorching sun makes it one of the best places in the world for solar farms! It gets better: making the switch to renewables will mean 22,000 full-jobs for NSW and unlock billions of dollars worth of investment.
NSW Households are Already Going Solar
And NSW residents love clean, renewable energy. While the government has been twiddling it’s thumbs, over 450,000 households and businesses have taken the initiative to slash their bills and do their bit for the environment by putting solar on the roof. Now an impressive 18% of all households in NSW have solar.
Research commissioned by Solar Citizens and undertaken by Associate Professor Dr Bruce Mountain analysed over 10,000 electricity bills from households with and without solar and found that solar PV is the most popular in low-income communities and on less valuable homes. It just goes to show that ordinary households are producing their own sun-power to take back control and slash their electricity bills.
Rooftop PV is Good for Everyone
And you know what? Rooftop solar is good for everyone! Our Solar Savings report found that in just one year solar owners in NSW slashed between $2.2-3.3 billion off the wholesale price of power, largely by reducing peak demand and pushing expensive generators out of the mix. So more solar means more savings – and there’s plenty of room to grow considering 80% of stand alone houses across the country are yet to get solar.
Of course, it is vulnerable electricity consumers who have the most to gain from accessing solar, which can significantly reduce bills, and for the most common system size of 4-6kW, typically pay for itself within 5 years. Solar households with the most popular system size can expect to pay on average $900–$1200 less per year on their electricity bills. That's nothing to sneeze at!
It’s Time to Break Down Barriers
Although solar is saving everyone, not all households are reaping the full benefits. Renters, people living in apartments and households that struggle to afford the installation cost all face barriers to accessing cheap solar energy – this is particularly evident in NSW where nearly a third of houses are rented. Government schemes, such as rebates, no-interest loans or incentives for community solar gardens, can play a large part in ensuring all households are included in the rooftop revolution.
Victoria is one state that is tackling this problem head-on with its Solar for Renters split incentive scheme: the Victorian Government plans to cover half the system installation cost for 50,000 rental properties, while landlords and tenants share the remaining cost. This is one great way to help everyone cash in on the solar savings.
Retailers are Still Making a Mint
But while hundreds of thousands of NSW households are slashing their bills with solar, the big energy retailers are still profiting by paying solar owners a pittance for the clean sun-power that's exported to the grid. Our latest research shows that in a third of cases, retailers pay solar households less for their electricity than they would otherwise pay on the spot market – given that the same electricity can then be re-sold down the road for three times the price, it's daylight robbery.
In NSW, electricity retailers are not required to pay solar owners anything for energy exported to the grid – and yet, they can re-sell that same electricity down the road for over three times the cost. It's daylight robbery! A mandated fair minimum feed-in tariff for solar owners would level the playing field and provide certainty for households thinking of going solar.
Let’s Make the Most of NSW’s Sunshine
To get NSW on the right track, all sides of politics should commit to the following policies:
- A Fair Price for Solar – a mandated fair feed-in tariff for solar owners will stop households from being ripped off by big energy retailers for the clean energy exported to the grid.
- Solar for 100,000 renters – a split incentive scheme that helps renters access rooftop solar over the next term of government will help thousands of NSW households take back control of their electricity bills.
- 4000MW of new large-scale renewable & storage capacity – a commitment to build new renewable capacity will boost NSW’s clean energy industry and unlock thousands of jobs.
Solar and renewables backed by storage in NSW just makes sense. Let's make sure that NSW doesn't get left in the dust in Australia's race to a clean, renewable energy future. Click here to send the above policy asks to your NSW candidates.
Nature Conservation Council of NSW's Repowering Our Regions report.
Solar Citizens' Australia's Rooftop Real Estate Report part one and part two.
Solar Citizens' Solar Savings report.