Features Friday, July 18, 2014 - 05:30
The News Minute| July 8, 2014| 02:05 pm IST In what could be a move towards “energy democracy”, Australian citizens are turning towards solar energy rather than relying on centralised power supply. Australia is increasingly moving towards a decentralized model of electricity generation, with 1.2 million buildings, in a country of 22.68 million people using solar panels. The consumers of energy have now become “prosumers” – producers as well as consumers. According to a report in The Guardian, Prime Minister Tony Abbott says that Australia is a land of cheap energy. The report suggests that this is only half-true because the production of energy through fossil fuels is rather cheap, it is the transportation and the distribution costs along with the taxes that make the retail price of energy expensive. Recently, the generation of solar energy by power stations in Queensland, Australia, led to a drop in the wholesale price of electricity- to negative figures. This fall came in the afternoon which is usually when prices are at their highest, when the energy is generated through fossil fuels. This model is a seemingly viable one for the island country. The Guardian report cites a Western Australia Independent Market Operator forecast according to which 75 percent of detached and semi-detached buildings and 90 percent of commercial businesses could have rooftop solar in the next ten years. Power stations are allowing consumers to install as many panels as they like on the condition that they don’t sell the extra power to the grids. This could encourage the use of battery storage by households and other establishments.