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Australians want to take the power back as bills spiral

7 December 2022: Australians want to take the power back as bills spiral

A staggering 78 per cent of Australians agree the Federal Government should subsidise household battery storage, according to a new national poll commissioned by community group Solar Citizens. 

The poll of more than 2,000 Australians was conducted by uComms and comes as globally high coal and gas prices are expected to drive up electricity prices by 56% over the next two years. Seventy three per cent of people polled said they were concerned about affording their next electricity bill.

Australians are world leaders in the uptake of rooftop solar because generating your own electricity is a guaranteed way to take back control of spiralling power bills,” said Stephanie Gray, Deputy Director of Solar Citizens. 

"We're hearing from a lot of people now that they'd like to take the next step and invest in home battery storage to be more energy independent, but the upfront cost is a barrier.

"There are simple steps the Federal Government can take to help make household storage more affordable, like introducing a rebate and providing no-interest loans for people to invest in clean technology.

“Incentivising more battery storage is a win-win that will help bring down electricity costs for all consumers by supplying cheap solar energy to the grid at night and reducing the need for expensive grid upgrades."

Of the people polled, 48 per cent said they would consider installing household solar or battery storage if they could access a government-provided no-interest loan. Due to high gas prices, 31 per cent also said they would consider replacing gas appliances with electric if they could access a government loan.

“Smart government policy kick-started Australia's world-leading rooftop solar industry, and now governments can replicate that success by supporting the accelerated uptake of household battery storage and electrification,” said Ms Gray.

“High gas prices are not only driving up our electricity bills, they’re also making it unaffordable for people that rely on gas to cook and heat their homes. Making it accessible for Australians to match electric appliances with rooftop solar is a guaranteed way to help households save. 

“We're lucky in Australia to have abundant renewable energy resources that, if harnessed, could mean we're completely protected from the global fossil fuel market that’s pushing energy costs out of control. "But to help more households cash in on the savings, governments have to further support the rollout of solar and storage, and help households switch their gas appliances for efficient electric ones.”

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Case study can be sourced on request.

Media contact Stephanie Gray 0425 5430 006


Key findings:

Solar Citizens commissioned uComms to conduct a survey of 2084 residents across Australia during the evening of 29 November 2022 using self-completed automated voice polling methodologies. The results showed:

  • 41% have solar

  • 73% of people are concerned or very concerned about affording their next electricity bill

  • 48% would consider installing household solar or battery storage if they could access a government-provided no-interest loan.

  • 31% would consider replacing gas appliances with electric if they could access a government-provided no-interest loan.

  • 78% agree the federal government should expand the national rooftop solar subsidy to make it more affordable for Australians to also install household battery storage.

 

Additional information:

Solar Citizens joined groups such as the Smart Energy Council and Climate Council in a visit to Canberra last week to call for a Renewable Energy Storage Target that would encourage the further development of both large and small-scale storage. Adding more storage capacity will mean we can soak up abundant and cheap solar energy during the daytime and then put that electricity back into the grid during times of peak demand to reduce the wholesale price of electricity. 

At the moment certain states are facing challenges in the distribution network due to a high uptake of rooftop solar. These challenges can be addressed by rolling out storage that’s programmed to charge in the middle of the day. Analysis by the Climate Council has found that a national Renewable Energy Storage Target could also unlock $42 billion dollars of private investment and create roughly 100,000 jobs in renewable energy, while bringing down emissions.

In addition, the ACT Government is running a very successful no-interest loan scheme where loans of up to $15,000 are available for the purchase of things like household battery storage, solar hot water or hot water heat pumps, electric heating systems, electric stove tops, and electric vehicles and charging infrastructure. In just over a year, the scheme has delivered more than $98 million worth of loans and 5% of all eligible households have participated. 

A recent report from the Climate Council found that households that switch from gas to fully electric can save up to $1,899 on their annual bills.

Mammoth Wind Farm to Blow Cheaper Electricity to Queensland

28 November 2022: Mammoth Wind Farm to Blow Cheaper Electricity to Queensland

Solar Citizens this morning celebrates news that ACCIONA Energia plans to expand their Queensland MacIntyre Wind Precinct to house a total of 2,000 MW of new renewable energy generation. A new 1,000 MW Herries Range Wind Farm has been announced at the site. 

“Today’s announcement is great news for Queenslanders and an indication that the State’s increased Renewable Energy Target of 70 per cent by 2032 is signalling to the private sector that they should set up shop here,” said Stephanie Gray, Deputy Director of Solar Citizens. 

“Right now high global coal and gas prices are pushing our bills out of control, and the bill pain from fossil fuels is likely to be an issue for years to come. Next year power bills are expected to rise a staggering 30 per cent. 

“The only wholesale electricity price relief we’re seeing at the moment is in the middle of the day when Queensland’s 900,000 rooftop solar installations and 30-plus large-scale solar plants are generating affordable energy. 

“Bringing online more wind power will mean we have cheap renewable energy at other times of the day, and importantly, it will mean we’re less exposed to the global fossil fuel market. 

“Today’s announcement is a massive step in the right direction to bring down prices and slash emissions, but there’s still a role for the State Government to ensure that more renewable energy is coming online as soon as possible to help address the spiralling cost of living. 

“The reality is that the exciting project announced today is still years away. We’d like to see the State Government take immediate action on power bills by bringing online more publicly-owned large-scale solar, wind and storage projects, while helping renters and social housing tenants access the cheapest source of energy: rooftop solar.”

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Media contact: Stephanie Gray 0425543006

Celebrity Chef sizzles on electric vehicle-powered cooktop & jump-starts appetite for electric vehicles

28th November 2022: CELEBRITY CHEF SIZZLES ON ELECTRIC VEHICLE-POWERED COOKTOP & JUMP-STARTS APPETITE FOR ELECTRIC VEHICLES 

The aromatic smells of a cooking demonstration on an electric vehicle-powered cooktop by celebrity chef Alistair McLeod wafted down the main street of Samford yesterday, drawing in a crowd who stayed to explore the smorgasbord of electric vehicles on display, ranging from motorbikes to cars, scooters and bikes. 

The “Electric Vehicle Experience” event was held in Federal Opposition Leader Peter Dutton’s electorate by clean energy advocates Solar Citizens, who want to see bi-partisan support for policies that enable more Australians to experience the cost of living and health benefits of electric transport. 

“Hundreds came along to find out more about electric vehicles because right now people from all walks of life are sick of pain at the petrol pump. Running an electric vehicle on sunshine via solar panels on your roof makes an electric car up to 97% cheaper to run than a petrol car. Access to affordable electric vehicles, combined with more uptake of solar panels, is a key solution to our cost of living crisis,” said Solar Citizens National Director Heidi Lee Douglas.

“But right now we aren't getting the range of affordable electric vehicles into Australia because we don't have strong Fuel Efficiency Standards – basically the carrot and stick that would drive car manufacturers to bring EVs to our shores. Instead, we are the global dumping ground for inefficient petrol cars. And right now, a ute or 4WD costs $200 plus to fill up in diesel. That’s hurting tradies, and that’s what's really killing the weekend.

Bill, a Samford local was inspired by the event but frustrated at the lack of electric utes available in the country compared to overseas. 

“I’m trying to do the right thing as a tradesman, I drive a ute and pull a trailer. I would love to get a ute that’s electric… If there [were] one available I’d be looking at it, that’s for sure. To politicians, I would say [they’re] out there, it’s proven, they’re working. Just bring them to our country so we can use them.”

Solar Citizens will continue campaigning for strong Fuel Efficiency Standards to get Australia in line with our trading partners, securing access to a diversity of EVs already available overseas, including electric utes.

“When Fuel Efficiency Standards are debated in parliament next year, we will have a huge chance to correct the global imbalance,” said, Douglas.

“That’s why we wanted to bring the good news to Dutton’s community, to unite all sides of politics behind these common-sense policies that will help our hip pocket, and reduce carbon emissions as an added bonus.

“The fact you can also cook a BBQ or run your tools off models of EVs with vehicle-to-load capacity is an added bonus we wanted to demonstrate first-hand here today. And really give people a taste of the good life – pun intended.”

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Photos from the event will be available in this folder by 8:00am Monday morning 28th November.

Media contact: Heidi Lee Douglas, National Director (0401 092 570)

Drive for Electric Vehicles on Dutton’s doorstep

Media Release: Drive for Electric Vehicles on Dutton’s doorstep

What: Samford Electric Vehicle Experience: Zero Emissions Vehicle Car Show

When: 10am - 1pm, Sunday 27th November

Where: John Scott Park, Samford Village 

Cutting-edge electric vehicles (EVs) including cars, motorbikes, bicycles, scooters and trucks and a cooking demonstration on an EV-powered barbeque from celebrity chef Alistair McLeod will be on show in Federal Opposition Leader Peter Dutton’s electorate, Dickson this Sunday the 27th November, as part of a community campaign encouraging more Australians to avoid the petrol pump and reduce their cost of living by making the switch to clean electric transport.

Hosted by clean energy advocates Solar Citizens, EV owners will be on hand to share their experiences of buying, driving, maintaining and charging an electric car. Some owners are generously offering test rides, giving punters the opportunity to fully experience a variety of electric cars.

The event will also feature stallholders selling electric bikes, electric scooters, charging infrastructure and towing supports, and a range of informative talks. 

Quotes attributable to Solar Citizens National Director, Heidi Douglas:

“There’s a clear demand in the community for EVs – including here in Peter Dutton’s backyard. We’ve had hundreds of people already RSVP for the event, as people are desperately looking for ways to slash their petrol costs, and are sick of paying outrageous prices at the petrol pump.

“Here in the Sunshine State, rooftop solar is very popular. By charging your EV from home solar during the day you can basically run your vehicle for free. With fuel and energy prices skyrocketing, now is the time for Australians to be able to harness our abundant sunshine and save our hip pocket with EVs.”

“We’re running this electric vehicle experience event off the back of an extremely successful consultation for the first National Electric Vehicle Strategy – where our community members made over 600 submissions, calling for strong Fuel Efficiency Standards to address the national shortage of EVs. 

“We don’t yet have all the right federal government policies we need to unlock affordable EVs for the Australian market. When Fuel Efficiency Standards is debated in parliament next year, it will be our primary chance to correct this. So we want bipartisan support for strong fuel efficiency standards.”

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Photos from the event will be available in this folder by 8:00am Monday morning.

For further media comment contact National Director Heidi Lee Douglas 0401 092 570 | [email protected]

State Electric Vehicle incentives won’t gain traction without Federal plan

22nd November 2022: State Electric Vehicle incentives won’t gain traction without Federal plan

Clean transport advocates Solar Citizens today responds to news that only 239 Queenslanders have accessed the State Government’s $3000 electric vehicle (EV) rebate, stating that without strong Federal Fuel Efficiency Standards to unlock more affordable models, these measures won’t gain traction.

“The problem here is twofold – EVs are currently too expensive for the everyday Australian and there aren’t enough affordable varieties in the country. Both the State and Federal Governments do have incentives for EVs, but the reality is people can't use them if the Federal Government doesn't act to bring more affordable models to the country,” said Solar Citizens Clean Transport Campaigner, Ajaya Haikerwal.

“States like Queensland implemented their EV rebates after a lack of Federal leadership. But there are only seven EV models available in Australia eligible for the Queensland Government’s $3000 rebate, and most of those get snapped up in a matter of minutes online. 

“The fact is that most Aussies buy second hand vehicles, and most of those cars come from fleets. And there simply aren’t enough EVs coming into the country for fleet operators to feasibly make the switch.

“The only policy that will enable a greater diversity of EVs to be imported into the country— including affordable models currently available in the EU and US— is a strong fuel efficiency standard starting no later than the 1st of January 2024. 

“Most of the global light vehicle market has a fuel efficiency standard, meaning they’re in the express queue, getting the first pick of EVs from global automakers. We’re in another queue entirely, and it’s time we joined the rest of the world.

“Most state and territory governments like Queensland have put in a subsidy or rebate scheme for new EVs and are now calling for measures to address supply. They know that if we don’t address the supply issue then governments will fall short of their sales targets and emissions reductions targets.

“Ultimately, delaying action on a fuel efficiency standard will make the lives of Aussies harder, locking us into skyrocketing petrol prices and inefficient cars that burn more fuel. In a cost of living crisis, this is the last thing we need.

“The Federal Government has a golden opportunity off the back of the National EV Strategy Consultation to implement a fuel efficiency standard by the 1st of January 2024, signalling to global automakers that Australia is ready for EVs.”

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Media Contact: Ajaya Haikerwal (0400 723 324)

 

Now is the time to halt soaring transport costs with Fuel Efficiency Standards

18th November 2022: Now is the time to halt soaring transport costs with Fuel Efficiency Standards

Solar Citizens today responds to the Australian Automotive Association’s (AAA) Transport Affordability Index, which shows that household transport spending is still rising, saying that we cannot delay in implementing strong Fuel Efficiency Standards. The AAA data shows the typical weekly household transport cost in capital city households is now $413.53. 

“The AAA data today shows we’re paying far too much for fuel because our cars are inefficient and burn through so much of it compared to the rest of the world,” said Ajaya Haikerwal, Clean Transport Campaigner at Solar Citizens.

“This data shows a clear need for robust and loophole-free Fuel Efficiency Standards to reduce the pressure on the wallets of everyday Aussies.

“For too long, Australian households have been at the mercy of foreign oil companies and automakers who don’t care how much they’re spending on transport. Our cars are inefficient and our petrol has to travel a long way to get here and is dangerously vulnerable to foreign oil prices and availability.

“But there’s an easy fix that we’ve willfully ignored for a decade: we have all the mineral wealth and expertise to manufacture electric vehicles (EVs) in Australia, and then power them with our cheap and abundant Aussie sunshine. 

“Unfortunately we’re dangerously behind other countries – the EU has had a Fuel Efficiency Standard for decades. We’re practically at the start line while our trading partners have lapped us numerous times – we simply cannot delay when it comes to implementing Fuel Efficiency Standards.

The AAA report breaks down transport costs by household and region, showing that the typical Australian household is paying $94.81 per week on fuel in the cities and $99.36 in the regions. 

“Because people drive for longer distances in the regions and keep their cars for longer, regional Australians have even more to gain from Fuel Efficiency Standards than their metropolitan counterparts. Having more efficient cars like EVs sooner could save rural Australians tens of millions of dollars – but only if we act fast.

“The recent National Electric Vehicle Strategy consultation has given the Federal Government the social license to implement Fuel Efficiency Standards, truly a golden opportunity that will have minimal cost on the government’s bottom line.”

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Media Contact: Ajaya Haikerwal (0400 723 324)

Key to Slashing Power Bills in the Household

17 November 2022: Key to Slashing Power Bills in the Household

Solar Citizens this morning responds to findings by the Australian Energy Regulator that energy prices are forecast to remain high for the next two years, in large part due to high global coal and gas prices.

“Electricity and gas bills have spiralled out of control mainly because the war in Ukraine has pushed global coal and gas prices through the roof,” said Stephanie Gray, Deputy Director of Solar Citizens.

“But the good news is that in Australia we have the opportunity to become independent of global fossil fuel markets by harnessing our country’s ample renewable energy resources.

“Australians are already world leaders in the uptake of rooftop solar, which is the cheapest form of electricity possible, with now more than three million solar homes and businesses cashing in on the solar savings around the country.

“As electricity and gas prices spiral, it’s the perfect time for governments to support the rollout of other household clean technology – like battery storage, hot water heat pumps, and electric stovetops to help households manage the rising cost of living.

“It was smart government policy that kick-started the household solar industry, and now governments can replicate that success by supporting the accelerated uptake of household battery storage and electrification. 

“In particular, we’re calling on the Federal Government to expand the Small-scale Renewable Energy Scheme to also provide a financial incentive for battery storage, as well as offering no-interest loans for households to invest in bill-slashing clean technology.”

The ACT Government is running a very successful no-interest loan scheme where loans of up to $15,000 are available for the purchase of things like household battery storage, solar hot water or hot water heat pumps, electric heating systems, electric stove tops, and electric vehicles and charging infrastructure. In just over a year, the scheme has delivered more than $98 million worth of loans and 5% of all eligible households have participated. 

A recent report from the Climate Council found that households that switch from gas to fully electric can save up to $1,899 on their annual bills.

Solar Citizens is also calling on governments to implement programs to support everyone to access solar, including people living in rental properties, social housing and apartments. 

“At the moment renters and people living in apartments are unlikely to have access to cheap solar energy, so it’s up to governments to implement incentive schemes and also introduce mandatory minimum energy efficiency standards in rentals. By doing this they can make sure no one is left fully exposed to high fossil fuel prices," said Ms Gray.

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Media contact: Stephanie Gray 0425 543 006

Coal Giant Announces Shift to Clean Energy

16 November 2022: Coal Giant Announces Shift to Clean Energy

Solar Citizens today welcomes the announcement that Anglo American, Australia’s second largest metallurgical coal miner, will power their Australian operations with 100 per cent renewable energy by 2025 following a power purchase agreement with Queensland’s Stanwell Corporation. 

“Today’s announcement by Anglo American is another example of large energy users and businesses turning to renewable energy in droves to cut their power bills and remain globally competitive,” said Stephanie Gray, Deputy Director of Solar Citizens.

“Earlier this year we saw Queensland’s largest energy user, Rio Tinto, call out for proposals to support 4,000 MW of new renewable energy generation to power their smelter and refineries. And just this week Fortescue Future Industries announced a partnership with Windlab to develop the North Queensland Super Hub that will eventually host 10,000 MW of clean energy projects.

“There’s currently only about 3,000 MW of large-scale solar and wind power operating in Queensland’s grid so these proposals represent a huge step up for the Sunshine State.

“The Queensland Government’s adoption of a more ambitious renewable energy target, alongside investment in grid infrastructure, is helping to underpin these announcements and drive more regional economic activity. 

“But the scale and speed of the announcements we’re seeing from industry and business goes even further than the State Government’s plans, so they have a task ahead of them to keep up with demand. 

“A total of 3,800 MW of new large-scale renewable energy is likely to come online in Queensland by 2025. But we’re going to need a lot more renewable energy connecting to the grid over the next few years to help drive down power bills for Queenslanders while meeting the needs of the business sector.”

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Media contact: Stephanie Gray 0425543006

North Queensland’s Biggest Renewable Proposal Yet Announced

14 November 2022: North Queensland’s Biggest Renewable Proposal Yet Announced 

Today’s announcement that Windlab will be working with Fortescue Future Industries to develop a clean energy North Queensland Super Hub is a game-changer, according to Solar Citizens.

The first projects announced for the Super Hub include the 800 MW Prairie Wind Farm and the 1000 MW Wongalee project. When completed, the entire hub is estimated to have a staggering 10 GW of clean energy capacity. 

“The scale of what Windlab and Fortescue Future Industries are planning for North Queensland is truly astounding. Queensland currently has close to 3 GW of large-scale solar and wind projects, so this hub alone will be more than triple that,” said Stephanie Gray, Deputy Director of Solar Citizens. 

“A hub of this scale will help provide abundant cheap and clean energy to power the region’s emerging renewable hydrogen industry. 

“Other countries are looking to Australia to buy renewable hydrogen fuel to help them cut emissions, which is a great job and economic opportunity for regional Queensland. 

“Research has indicated that northern Queensland is the cheapest place in the country to produce renewable hydrogen because of the region’s impressive co-located solar and wind resources. 

“Today’s announcement comes after Ark Energy recently announced the Collinsville Green Energy Hub; a 3 GW renewable energy proposal that will help them achieve their goal of becoming a global player in renewable hydrogen production from Townsville.

“The private sector is leaping on regional Queensland’s potential to be a clean energy manufacturing powerhouse. We’d like to see governments work with industry to ensure the region has the right infrastructure, skills training and community backing for these proposals to proceed. 

“We’re calling for the state and federal governments to announce the Townsville region as the country’s first Renewable Energy Industrial Precinct and urgently map a pathway for how that can be achieved. Without the right infrastructure, planning and coordination there’s a risk that not all of these proposals and opportunities will be realised.”

Queensland Reaches Impressive 900,000 Solar Milestone

3 November 2022: Queensland Reaches Impressive 900,000 Solar Milestone

Queensland has just reached a new solar milestone with Clean Energy Regulator data showing 900,000 small-scale solar PV installations have now been completed around the Sunshine State. 

The data also shows that Queensland's rooftop solar capacity has reached close to a staggering 5,000 MW – a capacity almost three times larger than the State’s biggest coal generator. 

Queensland leads the country in the uptake of rooftop solar and New South Wales comes in second place with close to 820,000 installations.

“We saw in the Federal Budget that electricity prices are tipped to grow by more than 50 per cent over the next two years, largely due to skyrocketing global coal and gas prices off the back of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine,” said Stephanie Gray, Deputy Director of Solar Citizens. 

“Queenslanders, and Australians all across the country, are investing in rooftop solar as a guaranteed way to take back control of electricity prices by generating their own cheap electricity.

“Last year was a record-breaking growth year for solar as Queenslanders installed 90,000 systems. With fossil fuels tipped to keep electricity prices high, it’s a sure bet that rooftop solar uptake will continue to grow.”

This solar milestone comes as Energy Queensland recently released the results of their 2022 Queensland Household Energy Survey that had over 4,000 respondents. 

The survey found that 42 per cent of people had solar installed on their property, and 26 per cent were looking to install solar or upgrade their solar system in the next three years. Of those with solar PV installed, 15 per cent also had a battery. 

When asked why they installed solar or why they’d like to, the majority of people (61 per cent) said it was to reduce the size of their bill. 

“In this survey 47 per cent of people said the main barrier to installing solar is that they rent. Approximately a third of Queenslanders live in rental properties, so as skyrocketing global coal and gas prices keep pushing our bills up, it’s really vital that governments urgently implement schemes to make cheap solar electricity available to renters,” said Ms Gray. 

“Solar Citizens is calling on the Queensland Government to urgently expand their previous Solar for Rentals trial, which saw close to 700 participating rental properties save an average of $600 per year.”

[ENDS] 

Quotes from rooftop solar owners or participants in the Solar for Rentals trial can be sourced on request. 

Energy Queensland’s survey results are available here.

Media contact: Stephanie Gray 0425543006