Solar Power for Rental Properties

Solar power for rental properties may start becoming more common as the cost of installs decreases and councils/community groups work on ideas such as giving landlords interest-free loans to install solar on their rental properties. With over 30% of Australia’s population currently renting, we need to figure out a way to make it viable for landlords and renters alike to benefit from renewable energy.

Solar power for rental properties

According to the ABC, 1.8 million Australian homes have PV solar installed on their roof – with a record amount being installed last year. This increase is due to two main factors – rapidly increasing electricity costs and decreasing cost of the actual solar technology.

According to Andrew Reddaway from the Alternative Technology Association, Australia could save 5.6 million tonnes of greenhouse gas if we work on increasing solar panel uptake for rental properties. 

“It’s a bit of a risk of the country dividing into the solar energy haves and have-nots,” Mr Reddaway said. 

Whilst not exactly a ‘two speed economy’, the increasing number of renters mean that we need to have a look at finding ways to get solar installed on these houses. There are obvious ramifications for having a situation where it’s not feasible for landlords to install solar power on properties they own – unfortunately magnanimity / environmental concern aren’t powerful enough drivers for owners to shell out $10,000 for a system. What sort of system would be fair, keeping in mind having solar power on the roof will also increase the value of the property. 

“It’ll be the tenant who sees the benefit on the electricity bill, whereas the person who pays for the solar system is generally the landlord. So the main question is: What’s in it for the landlord?” Mr Reddaway continued. 

Z-Net Uralla, a community group in regional NSW, have teamed up with the NFP CORENA (Citizens Own Renewable Energy Network Australia) to give landlords interest-free loans to install solar on their rental properties. CORENA work with both parties to discuss a fair increase in rent to help loan repayments.

“We are hoping that the partnership can be a model for communities elsewhere to copy,” Margaret Hender of CORENA said.

Solar power for rental properties - Margaret Hender CORENA
Solar power for rental properties via no-interest loans – Margaret Hender of CORENA (source: https://corenafund.org.au)

The energy inequality currently being inexperienced has led to a few different attempts at trying to bridge the gap. CORENA have their interest free loans, and there are options for renters to install their own portable solar for apartment buildings, as we investigated last year. 

The city of Darebin has been offering interest free solar loans for residents,with repayments added to household rates. 

Are you a renter or a landlord and have any experience with solar power? Let us know in the comments. 

WA Solar – Installs rising, but so is ‘energy inequality’.

The Bankwest Curtin Economics Centre has created a research report on WA solar entitled Power to the People: WA’s Energy Future. It highlights the rapidly rising trend of solar power in Western Australia but also a more sobering statistic – so-called ‘energy poverty’ where those in a lower income bracket are spending up to and over 15% of their income on energy (with the average household energy (electricity, gas, and heating) bills no more than 4%). 

WA Solar Overview

WA Solar Installation Predictions 2017
WA Solar Installation Predictions 2017 (source: theconversation.com / CER)

Western Australia’s rooftop solar PV capacity is set to reach 2000MW by 2022 – a figure larger than every power station in WA bar one. According to the ‘Power to the People’ report, WA rooftop solar PV has increased by a massive 37% over the past 18 months. 

Western Australia solar power installers have been hard at work – with around 25% of suitable residences having solar panels installed – which brings WA to third place in Australia, behind Queensland (32%), and South Australia (31%). 

Energy Inequality in WA

WA Today also reported on the ‘energy poverty’ situation – according to the Power to the People report, low-income families pay almost $1,791 per year for energy. This is up $440 since the last year – and the report also revealed that at least one in ten single parents are spending a massive 15.1% of their yearly wage on energy. Around 25% of them spend more than 10% of their income on energy bills – while middle-income families only pay around 3% of their annual income. 

Bankwest Curtin Economics Centre director and author of the report, Alan Duncan, noted that it’s common for those on a lower wage to be renting, and at this current point in time there’s little reason for owners to install solar panels on their rental properties: “However, there is a need to revisit incentives for new solar installations, with landlords having little financial motivation to install solar on rental accommodation, and homeowners deterred by the initial upfront costs involved.”

As stated before, in WA 25% of suitable dwellings have rooftop solar installed. However, in lower socio-economic areas, only 7.4% have solar panels installed. What’s the future to combat this and try to find a way forward so we can install solar power for rental properties? Technology upgrades, government incentives, or something else? Soon enough we will reach critical mass for owner/occupiers and need to find ways to bridge the rental gap. Can the Government come up with something to help? Watch this space…

 

Solar Power for Renters / Apartment Owners

An article on the ABC website has highlighted some of the problems with solar for millions of renters and apartment owners – they aren’t able to take advantage of solar by because they don’t own a roof to put solar on. What is the solution to offer solar power for renters?

Solar Power for Renters / Apartment Owners

With home ownership rates sinking rapidly as the prices rise, more and more renters are in the market and it’s becoming increasingly likely that the country may move to a more renter heavy population. In countries like Germany with similar high rental populations there are strong laws for renters with regards to their rights, price rises and much more. Will we see a similar change in Australia? If so, we will see a lot more people renting the same place for long periods of time. What kind of incentives can be offered so they’re able to take advantage of solar power as well? It’ll be interesting to see how this goes in the future, how stratas deal with owners wanting to install solar, and what the ramifications for residential solar in Australia are.

Solar Power For Renters and Apartments
Solar power for renters and apartment owners – what’s the future? (source: wikipedia.org)

Solazone have several options for renters who want to make usage of the myriad benefits solar energy can offer:

  • They have solar panels that can be installed on removable frames which will not have any affect on the roof – so if you decide to leave the property you can take them with you.
  • These can be connected to battery back up systems.

Before you start thinking about removable solar panels, if you’re a long term tenant (or planning to be), consider:

  • Is it worth opening a dialogue with the homeowner with regards to installing a conventional PV solar system on the roof, where the owner would benefit from a) the solar rebate and b) the added value to the property?
  • Is there an area in the backyard where a ground-mounted solar system could be installed?

Please note that even if you are thinking about installing removable solar on the roof or a removable ground-mounted solar system in the backyard you’ll still need to run these ideas by your property manager or the homeowner.

Solar Panels for Apartment Balcony

Low Tech magazine have an article about ‘how to get your apartment off the grid‘ which as a lot of useful information about installing solar in an apartment building.

Although the roof is generally off limits, there are some clever ways you can utilise windows and balconies to generate power. If you can adjust the tilt of your solar panels that will allow you to gather more energy as well.

If you’re interested in learning more about hte specifics, please see a two-part video below about an apartment balcony solar power setup by Ibodini2008 on YouTube – it’s really interesting!

Have you had any luck installing solar in your unit or apartment? Please let us know in the comments. We’d love to hear about it.