Bush embracing solar technology

SOLAR power installers in the New England agree with new research showing country people are embracing the technology in greater numbers than their city cousins. 

In a study by the REC Agents Association, regional areas and lower-income Australians were shown to be more likely to install solar power.

Tamworth’s Chris Pollock, of Max Fox Electrical, and New England Solar Power director Rob Taber agreed.

LEADING SOLAR CHARGE: Max Fox Electrical manager Chris Pollock said regional areas are still leading the charge for solar technologies. Photo: Gareth Gardner 050514GGC01

LEADING SOLAR CHARGE: Max Fox Electrical manager Chris Pollock said regional areas are still leading the charge for solar technologies. Photo: Gareth Gardner 050514GGC01

Mr Taber said there were a few reasons that regional areas took up solar in greater numbers than their metropolitan cousins.

“In rural areas, you have more space, so you have more possibilities of being able to utilise rooves and backyards and sheds,” he said.

“The other reason possibly is houses are much cheaper in the country versus houses in the city, particularly Sydney, so people in the country have spare money from their mortgage to fund some of these things.”

Mr Pollock said all the reports he had seen showed that blue-collar workers and farmers had always supported solar power.

“I think it’s a case that they can see the power bills really do have an effect on them, so they want to do something about it to reduce it,” he said.

Both companies said solar power was still popular in this region, even though there is talk of a government review into subsidies and rebates.

“We’re just waiting with bated breath on that one, but we’re hoping they don’t muck around with it,” Mr Taber said. 

“There’s a lot of opposition out there to losing the RECs – Solar Citizens have got together and have a huge petition for the government to not even consider it, so there’s a fair bit of pressure on the government to leave it alone.

“The solar industry has to keep pressure on as well.”

Mr Pollock said it was a case of “wait and see”.

“The solar industry has been through a lot of changes over the past few years – people are becoming accustomed to it,” he said.

The uncertainty is not slowing demand.

“People are still very keen to get involved with solar – it’s still very fashionable,” Mr Taber said.

“The biggest uptake is with business at the moment. They can definitely offset their expense with solar.”

Mr Taber said panel prices were starting to go up.

“I’d be encouraging people who have been thinking about, now is the time to get in and do it because we will see a steady rise from now on,” he said.

“The oversupply of solar panels in the world has been soaked up, the cost of production has gone up, so there is a natural progression in increases in panel prices.”

Mr Pollock said the Australian dollar decreasing in value didn’t help the price of panels, but solar was still the preferred form of alternative energy.

“In our area, solar power is now cheaper to produce than coal-fired power. As far as end-users are concerned, it’s the easiest and cheapest to put on and the readily available option for sure,” he said.

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