With electricity costs and global warming on the rise, more Australians look for renewable alternatives to fossil fuels. Since Australia has the highest solar radiation of any continent in the world, solar energy is an obvious solution.
Access to this zero-emissions energy source has been made easier through government rebates and incentives. So far, more than 2.21 million rooftop solar power systems have been installed across Australia, allowing people to save approximately $514 each year on their power bills.
But not everyone owns a home, and not everyone can afford to install solar on their property. Even if they’d love to make the switch, a private solar system is not an option for many Australians. Thankfully, there are options like a solar community network, but not with out a few solution pros and cons.
Solar community network
Solar community network enables people to enjoy the financial and environmental benefits of solar energy at a lower cost. People can buy into or subscribe to a shared solar system at a specific location and benefit from the energy it produces via a credit to their energy bill or through purchasing the solar energy at a much lower rate than fossil fuels. Let’s take a look at some of the pros and cons.
Pros of a solar community network
Lower upfront costs
While it’s becoming more affordable, a home solar system sets you back at least $3,500 and it can take 3-5 years to see the return on your investment. A solar community network has much lower buy-in costs and affordable subscriptions, making solar energy a possibility for everyday Australians. As the ownership of solar farms is also shared, it isn’t up to each individual household to fix and maintain the system, which further reduces the financial burden.
Save on electricity bills
Solar energy rates are far lower than gas or coal-powered energy. With an affordable way to invest in solar energy, the savings associated with solar can be enjoyed by the people who need it most, such as pensioners and low-income households.
Clean energy for more people
There are other barriers to choosing solar energy. Many homes aren’t exposed to enough sunlight or have roofs that cannot support a solar array. For renters, the choice is entirely up to the landlord. A solar community network provides these people with options, regardless of whether they own or rent.
Wider community benefits
In 2018, the rooftop solar industry was responsible for 6267 FTE jobs. A solar community network contributes further to this through job creation from the planning, construction, operation, and maintenance of any shared system. It also maximises local ownership and decision making increases local efforts to improve the environment and can often make use of unused local community space.
Fossil fuel production doesn’t just create CO2 emissions; it erodes the ground, pollutes waterways and uses vast amounts of water. Australia is already experiencing a water crisis. When more people switch to renewable energy, it doesn’t just reduce CO2 emissions but helps to save this precious resource. Since solar farms and gardens are located geographically close to the members they serve, the energy produced is distributed locally, which also reduces the environmental impacts of transport and distribution (T&D).
Cons of a solar community network
Complex and varied agreements
It’s important to understand things like lock-in periods, exit or transfer fees if you move house, as well as who has control of output and operations, to be sure you’re getting a good deal and return on your investment.
Solar farms can take up valuable space
Solar farms need to be in an uninterrupted, sunny location, such as a field or other plot of land. It’s important to consider things like habitat loss, deforestation and whether it’s the best use of the land. The question whether a project practices sustainable land use before entering an agreement.
Is a solar community network right you?
There are many financial and environmental advantages to joining a solar community network, but it’s important to carefully consider things like land use and what sort of agreement is right for you. We have more sun than we know what to do with in Australia, and it’s time we started using it for good. A solar community network empowers more people to make that choice. If you’re looking to go solar, connect with our solar consultants to access the most affordable electricity in Australia.