More than one third of Australians are locked out of access to clean energy because they rent, live in apartments, have unsuitable rooftops, or cannot afford the upfront cost of solar panels.
The coalition, led by the Community Power Agency, is calling for policy and funding support for solutions to solar lockout, including solar gardens. These are centralised solar arrays that people can purchase a small share in; the electricity generated by these arrays is credited on consumers’ bills.
“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,” said Nicky Ison, founder and co-director, Community Power Agency.
“Governments can easily fix this unfair situation in Australia by funding solar garden trials and solar rebates for low-income and locked-out households.
“These simple solutions can help state governments deliver lower costs of living, better physical and mental health, and meaningful action on climate change. There are no downsides to this,” said Ison.
Solar gardens are a proven concept. In the United States, 1.3GWs of solar gardens are operating across 40 states are saving communities hundreds of dollars per year, while reducing emissions.
Liuanga Palu, Marrickville renter and co-lead of Sydney Alliance’s Voices for Power campaign, said: “I keep my heater and air conditioning use to a minimum because electricity is just too expensive—you can imagine how miserable that is on a freezing winter day or a scorching summer one.”
“It’s frustrating to know that solar could cut my household bills by hundreds of dollars a year, but that I can’t tap into these benefits because I can’t afford the upfront costs or to buy a home yet.
“Climate change is making our summers hotter every year. I want my elected leaders to quickly support solar gardens and rebates, because we all deserve healthy and safe lives,” said Palu.