Australia is one of the sunniest countries on earth and yet our largest solar power station is a tiny 1.2 megawatts. With the sun-drenched landscape so much a part of Australia’s identity, it just makes sense for us to be using this valuable resource to supply energy for our nation. But while we’ve enthusiastically embraced solar panels on our rooftops we have so far failed to grasp the opportunity of large scale solar power to generate electricity, employment and energy stability into the future.
Solar thermal power plants that store the sun’s energy after the sun goes down can provide baseload power for our industries while solar PV at utility scale is expected to be cheaper than coal or gas by the middle of this decade. In combination with other renewable technologies such as wind, solar power can make our power supply cheaper and cleaner and just as reliable as what we now enjoy.
Investment in large scale solar now will set Australia up to benefit from stable electricity prices for decades to come in a way that coal and gas with their exposure to volatile international energy markets can no longer guarantee. And of course, it will help reduce emissions to slow down global warming.
Through the first half of 2012 12,000 Australians were polled on their attitudes to big solar. YCAN participated by doorknocking in Clifton Hill, Northcote, Preston and Reservoir. The poll results show overwhelming levels of support for Australia getting on with the job of building big solar. 94% of respondents said they wanted to see big solar projects built in Australia while a further 95% wanted to see governments investing in big solar projects. The full report with the complete results is available here.
The combined effort of dozens of community volunteers together with the results of this new poll show that Australia is ready for its leaders – of all political parties – to embrace the huge opportunity that is solar power. The community is calling for it, business is ready to invest, the land and the sun is there. Lets get on with it!