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…

 

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