Australia is the tenth sunniest nation in the world, boasting the highest solar radiation per square metre of any continent in the world. Ironically, millions of Australians are suffering from power poverty.
In a recent interview with Elon Musk with 60 Minute Australia, Musk was appalled with Australia’s energy crisis, and commented that Australia was “perfect for solar power.” Not only is Australia the largest producer of lithium-ion solar batteries, but also large enough to power both itself and “a significant chunk of Asia.”
Experts agreed. Ross Garnaut, Australia’s leading economist and vice-chancellor fellow, argued that “Australia has the potential to be an economic superpower of the future post-carbon world.” Australia has yet to unlock the billion-dollar industry of lithium ion batteries and solar technology.
Then why is Australia so behind in the solar industry? With more Australians struggling to pay their energy bills and suffering from the effects of climate change, switching to solar has become a necessity. In this blog, we will cover why Australia is the best country to go solar and how you can easily transition to renewable energy under a budget.
What is Power Poverty?
While Australia shines on the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) list of Most Developed Countries, millions of inhabitants suffer from power poverty: the lack of access to modern and affordable energy services. To counteract rising electricity prices, many Australians’ have resorted to using below-minimal energy, relying on polluting fuels and spending excessive time and money to meet basic electricity needs.
But why go through the pain of limiting your lifestyle when you can use unlimited zero-carbon electricity by switching to solar? Often when we think of reducing our energy bills, we turn to switching off our lights or unplugging unused appliances.
But solar produces more energy than we can use – so much that solar experts recommend consuming as much electricity as possible, then selling the remainder to energy retailers under a Feed-In Tariff.
“The notion that we have to live smaller lifestyles… is just ridiculous. It is the opposite of the case; a new energy paradigm will create opportunity,” says Marshall Herskovitz.
Fossil fuel is an early idea whose time is past. Solar energy is a future energy whose time has come.
Statistics: Power Poverty in Australia
More than ever, Australians are struggling to pay for their power. A record number of families are on hardship plans or deferred payment.
When asked about Australia’s ‘power poverty,’ Australian Treasurer Josh Frydenberg responded that the National Energy Guarantee aims to make power systems more reliable and affordable. Unfortunately, the federal plan only saves the average Australian a miniscule $115 a year; Frydenberg believes that amount “means a lot.”
It seems that our politicians are out of touch with what thousands of Australians are facing every day.
How serious is Australia’s ‘Power Poverty’?
In a country as abundant with resources as Australia, it defies logic that now some Australians cannot pay for the energy to even warm themselves this winter.
In a 60 Minute Australia Interview, pensioners Brian and Fay Willett tailor their lives around their electricity bills.
“It feels like survival rather than living. It seems strange that life is becoming much harder as we get older,” said Brian Willett.
To cut down on energy prices, the elderly couple shut the curtains to block the chill and eat meals requiring minimal cooking. The Willetts claimed they did not use the heater once during winter, but instead relied on blankets and two pairs of socks.
Musk replied that he was shocked on the severity of Australia’s power poverty commenting, “Australia has so many natural resources. Even if you go the fossil fuel route, the electricity should be very cheap.”
Then what is our government doing with all of our electricity bills? Where is the billion-dollar investment in renewable energy going?
The Australian Government is run by the Fossil Fuel Industry
Politics have failed to provide Australians with an essential service for years.
The noisy quarrel in Canberra has yet to lower power bills, but instead created more uncertainty in the market.
When the federal government proposed the Energy Guarantee to cut energy by a flimsy fifty cents per week, Elon Musk built the world’s largest solar battery in South Australia.
When our generation’s greatest innovator came to finally address Australia’s energy crisis, then-treasurer Scott Morrison mocked, “by all means have the world’s biggest battery, have the world’s biggest banana, have the world’s biggest prawn.”
When we look at the power play in Australian energy politics, it’s not hard to see why we’re so far behind. In 2016, Australia’s peak oil and gas industry lobby group spent almost $4 million last year trying to “obstruct” climate change policy, reported the Sydney Morning Herald.
In 2020, the Australian Conservation Foundation revealed that the fossil fuel industry tried to “buy political power” by doubling their donations to Australian political parties.
In the 2018-19, the fossil fuel industry directly donated more than $85.7 million to Australian political parties.
As more Australians demand action on climate change and pressure politicians to take the problem seriously, the fossil fuel industry spends more money to influence public policy.
Our political system does not work for the benefit of all Australians. We are headed towards a climate catastrophe and yet the government is manipulated by the exact companies we wish to counteract.
We need to act now and control our future instead of letting the future control us.
How can I switch to solar?
The power to save the planet rests with the individual consumer. – Denis Hayes
At Sola.io, we believe in bringing power back to the people. No longer do Australians have to rely on the traditional solar model and purchase a $14,000 system. In 2020, Sola.io created a ‘Solar-as-a-Service’ (SaaS) to enable all Australians access solar panels and have theirmaintenance and installation covered. Our customers only pay for the electricity their panels produce as a mere 0.135 cents per kilowatt – that’s a thirty per cent reduction on your current energy bill.
Through Solar as a Service, you can see how much solar energy is produced and consumed and choose whether you want to use or sell your excess energy back to the grid via your energy retailer. Through SaaS, you can use as much solar energy as possible then get paid for what you don’t by selling the excess energy under a feed-in tariff.
SaaS: It’s a low cost, simple way to have your own clean energy.
Inevitably, Australia will depend on renewables – it’s merely a question of when. With our abundant light, land and lithium, Australia has the potential to lead the global energy industry. Take control of your electricity bills by switching to solar today.