Solar power is rapidly gaining popularity as Australia’s preferred energy source. As of June 2023, over 3.5 million systems had been installed in Australia — the world's highest penetration rate. In 2021, solar electricity surpassed the output of Australia’s biggest coal-fired power station, the 2,880MW Eraring Power Plant in NSW.
So, what’s the big deal with solar panels, and why are so many Australian homeowners opting for solar energy systems over traditional energy sources?
Solar energy is one of the cleanest, greenest forms of energy available. It all comes from sunlight, eliminating the need to burn fossil fuels and send tonnes of carbon into the atmosphere.
But the benefits don’t end there. In this article, we share some of the top benefits of solar energy to your pocket and the planet.
What is solar power?
Solar power is generated by converting sunlight into electricity through the semiconductor cell of a solar photovoltaic (PV) system. The most common residential solar PV technology is solar panels — more than 30% of Australian households have them installed on their roofs.
Large-scale solar farms are also becoming more prevalent all over Australia, with almost 7 gigawatts connected to the electricity grid. For some perspective, a single gigawatt is enough to power a medium-sized city.
The versatility of solar energy is invaluable. Solar power can be used to illuminate and power our homes, operating everything from lights to appliances and hot water systems, all while exerting a much smaller impact on the environment compared to the traditional fossil fuel-generated electricity.
What are the benefits of solar energy to the environment?
As a renewable power source, solar energy plays a key role in reducing our greenhouse gas emissions and impact on the planet. From protecting humans and wildlife to natural habitats and ecosystems, solar energy has the potential to help reduce carbon emissions and support Australia in meeting its emission reduction targets.
Below, we’ve listed just a few of the benefits of solar energy:
Decreased water usage
Burning fossil fuels can use between 300 and 200,000 gallons of water per megawatt-hour (MWh). Solar panels, on the other hand, don’t require water at all — solar power relies on heat and light from the sun.
Decreased greenhouse gas emissions
Around 90% of the world’s carbon emissions come from burning fossil fuels like coal. Most of Australia’s greenhouse gas emissions come from producing electricity — and we’re the world’s 14th highest emitter. According to Australia's National Greenhouse Gas Inventory, we emitted 499 million tonnes of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere in 2020.
Solar energy is one of the cleanest forms of energy, and opting for solar power over traditional power can reduce CO2 emissions and decrease demand for fossil fuels. A single Australian household with a 6.6kW solar panel system could generate 11,046kWh of clean energy each year and reduce 9.5 tonnes of CO2 emissions from being emitted!
Reduced air pollutants
According to a report from the National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) in America, the widespread use of solar power can significantly reduce dangerous air pollutants like nitrous oxides, sulphur dioxide, and particulate matter emissions.
Reducing air pollution is critical for keeping the world’s population healthy — the NREL found that solar power (over burning fossil fuels) can reduce cases of chronic bronchitis, respiratory and cardiovascular problems, and lost workdays due to illness and health issues.
So, if you opt for solar power over traditional power sources, you’re doing something good for everyone.
Reduced land usage
While hydropower is a renewable resource, it also requires a lot of water and space to produce electricity. Hydropower usually requires a dam to be built, which can affect the natural ecosystem and destroy land-based habitats.
Solar panels are usually installed on buildings and rooftops, so there’s no need to use extra land!
What are the benefits of solar power for you?
One of the biggest advantages of solar energy is that it’s not only beneficial for the planet but also for your pocket. The cost of solar panels continues to fall, and the Australian Government is offering rebates to help support the cost of solar panels for all homeowners.
Below, we share some of the many benefits of solar energy for you and your home.
Reduce your electricity bills
Installing solar panels can significantly reduce your energy bills. Solar can save around 25-30 cents per kWh for time-of-use billing or 22-28 cents per kWh for flat-rate power!
Because a solar panel system sources energy from light and heat from the sun, you no longer need to rely on more expensive and harmful forms of electricity generation (e.g. power generated from burning fossil fuels). Your solar panels will only seek electricity from the grid if solar power is depleted, which won’t be an issue if you have solar batteries installed to power your home at night and on those exceptionally overcast days.
Get paid for your excess solar
One of the biggest advantages of solar panels is that you can sell excess energy back into the power grid, earning a feed-in tariff from your electricity provider. Otherwise known as a “buy-back rate”, this feed-in tariff is a set rate per kWh paid as a credit on your electricity bill!
The buy-back rate varies from state to state, so be sure to check Energy Australia to find out how many cents you can earn per kWh.
Alternatively, if you have a battery storage unity you can save your excess solar energy for a rainy day when your home needs the power most (heating, lighting, etc).
Reduce your carbon footprint
Once installed, solar panels will produce renewable energy for your home, significantly reducing your home’s greenhouse gas emissions. For some perspective, a 6.6kW solar power system can reduce greenhouse gases by over 250 tonnes in its lifetime.
Add value to your home
Installing solar may also add value to your home if you’re ever planning on selling. Reports suggest your home could sell up to 20% faster compared to homes without solar power systems. While, according to a survey of 1,000 people by Origin Energy, 57% of respondents said they would pay up to $10,000 more for a home with solar panels installed.
If you have an investment property, renters also indicate they find solar panels appealing. Around 55% of renters who responded to the Origin Energy survey said they would be willing to spend at least $10 more each week for a home with solar panels.
The benefits of solar panels are unrivalled — find out how we can help fund solar panel installation!
As you can see, the benefits of solar energy to your pocket and the planet can be significant, and there’s much to be gained from solar panel installation. If you’re looking for options to fund solar installation our range of green lending options may be the solution.
To learn more about our Green Home Loans, contact us or apply online today! Alternatively, continue learning about the benefits of solar power and keeping an eco-friendly home at our Eco Hub.