Solar in the sunshine state outshines coal
9 October 2019 at 2:27 pm
Queensland solar panels are producing twice as much electricity as the state’s largest coal-fired power station, marking a new milestone for the renewables industry.
Dr Anthony Lynham, QLD state energy minister, announced on Sunday that rooftop solar and solar farms had hit a 4,000 megawatts energy capacity in the state, outstripping the Gladstone coal generator, which sits at 1,680 megawatts of capacity.
A fall in solar market prices and government subsidy schemes have seen an explosion in solar installation in the state, with more than 560,000 rooves now hosting solar systems.
Lynham said almost 2,500 households and small businesses had installed a solar battery system under the government’s solar and battery scheme that provides loans and grants, with a further 1,500 approved to install a system before the program winds up in mid 2020.
Mark Bretherton, spokesperson for the Clean Energy Council, told Pro Bono News it was positive to see the aptly named “sunshine state” making the most of the sun.
“Queensland has been setting an ambitious renewable energy target for the state and encouraging rooftop solar power for many years,” Bretherton said.
“There are challenges to overcome at every step of the way, but the enthusiasm with which Queenslanders have embraced solar suggests renewable energy is headed for a bright future.”
Lynham said Queensland was forecast to hit 20 per cent of its renewable energy target next year and was on track to achieve its 50 per cent renewable energy target by 2030.
Plans are also underway in remote Indigenous communities such as Lockhart River and Doomadgee, to swap out expensive diesel generators with solar to power the towns.
The milestone comes as a coalition of more than 20 community groups launched a campaign on Tuesday calling on state governments to end “solar lock-out”.
They argue that more than one third of Australians – renters, people living in apartment blocks, and people on low incomes – are unable to access solar energy and the benefits it provides due to costs and a lack of suitable roofing.
The coalition, led by the Community Power Agency (CPA), is demanding government support for affordable and accessible solar solutions.
A proposed solution is the use of solar gardens, which are centralised solar arrays that the public can purchase a small share of. Electricity generated by the arrays is then credited on consumer’s bills.
Nicky Ison, the founder and co-director of CPA, said this was an easy fix for governments.
“Governments can easily fix this unfair situation in Australia by funding solar garden trials and solar rebates for low-income and locked-out households,” Ison said.
“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.”