What We Can Learn: Australia’s Approach to Solar Energy

By - Alex Hay
17.01.23 09:46 PM


    Even if you have never traveled across the world to the Land Down Under, you probably know a few things about it:

-    Beautiful reefs

-    Kangaroos

-    SUN!

    None of those three are going to waste, either, especially all that amazing sunlight! Over 30% of homes in Australia are powered by home solar panels, this accounts for 10% of the country’s total electricity in 2021, and solar power is the fastest-growing electrical generation type, by far. Compare these numbers to only 3% of US households that have rooftop solar and ask yourself: what is Australia doing better?


    Well, for starters, Australia has invested a ton of money into research and development to make solar as efficient and affordable as possible: In the past decade, the country has invested nearly a quarter-billion dollars into over 100 R&D projects, including $80 Million to the Australian Centre of Advanced Photovoltaics. In addition to extensive R&D, of course, the actual cost of installing the solar itself is dramatically lower in Australia (0.96 USD per watt) compared to the United States ($4.60 USD per watt). The higher cost is, in part, due to the plethora of soft-costs associated with purchasing solar:

- Permitting

- Inspections

- Interconnections

- Taxes


    Compared to the United States, the lack of red-tape relating to home solar installations is a big reason why the costs differ so dramatically. This light regulatory touch helps keep costs down - coupling that with other supportive regulations and high retail electric rates, you have a recipe for a forward-thinking solar community!


     Although Australia gets more sun exposure than the United States overall, that is only part of the story as to why rooftop solar is so much more popular and affordable. If the US wants to pick up the pace, we’re going to have to scale back on the red-tape and get creative! There are is so much opportunity for homeowners across America to come together and demand that their local communities become more solar friendly. There are bills in many state legislations that would great wide sweeping solar access to millions of Americans, so remember to vote for your property rights and the right to choose where your energy comes from! But not every pro solar move has to be a huge, state wide sweeping change. Removing overly restrictive Homeowners Association rules, local city ordinances, historical district rules, and timely and costly permit applications are important ways that people can get involved locally. The key is participation! If American homeowners want a brighter, cleaner energy future, that creates local jobs, saves them money, and creates less local pollution, all they have to do is go to their next neighborhood or town hall meeting.  

Alex Hay