Strong solar take-up in NE region

THE New England North West loves solar, with more than 15 per cent of households in the New England having either a solar electricity or solar hot water system installed.

To mark the milestone, Willala farmer Alistair Donaldson, who is very interested in solar, presented member for New England Tony Windsor with a certificate of solar appreciation from the 100 per cent renewable campaign and the community of solar citizens.

The certificate states that 8375 New England homes have installed solar systems, of more than 1.5 million solar homes nationwide. 

Mr Donaldson said he had installed a 6.4-kilowatt standalone grid connect system, along with four solar pumping set-ups and solar hot water.

“You can probably buy the system for about a third of the price we paid three years ago. I send it back to the grid to the tune of about one household’s worth,” he said.

Mr Donaldson said he adopted solar because he wanted to be self-sufficient.

“I wanted to get off the coal gravy train,” he said.

“Farmers are going to be the hardest hit by global warming.”

He said his observations of Bureau of Meteorology charts showed temperatures had increased overall by one degree Celsius since the 1960s.

“To me, it’s a no-brainer, but farmers are a fairly conservative lot, so getting them to sit up and take notice is hard going,” he said.

“Another reason why I like solar is it makes people aware of their electricity use and when they use it, and makes them think about what they do where electricity is concerned.”

Mr Windsor welcomed the take-up of solar power, which he said showed that residents wanted to reduce their carbon emissions and be insulated from rising electricity prices.

“With the cost of solar systems falling and electricity prices rising, I expect more and more local households will decide to become solar homes,” Mr Windsor said.

The increasing use of renewable energy was the first step in a long journey towards decoupling economic growth and carbon emissions.

“The slow transition towards a low-carbon economy is not limited to solar homes. Big businesses, such as Inverell’s Boss Engineering, are also installing solar panels to cut their electricity bills in half. Meat processors and landfills are funnelling their waste into biogas plants to produce electricity and thermal heat, thereby lowering their operating costs,” he said.

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