Rural energy security in limbo with uncertain solar future

Energy security for regional Australia will be at risk unless the government moves to secure real incentives for the local development of renewable energy sources, according to Australia's leading supplier of home energy systems.

Energy security for regional Australia will be at risk unless the government moves to secure real incentives for the local development of renewable energy sources, according to Australia's leading supplier of home energy systems.


"The renewable energy industry is anxious that the Rudd Government continues to focus on large scale projects, such as wind farms or geo-thermal schemes, rather than home-based energy systems that significantly reduce rural households' reliance on unclean electricity," Zen Home Energy Systems CEO Richard Turner said.

"The government has refused to commit to the future of either the solar PV rebate or a gross feed-in tariff. The entire industry is nervous that the government won't show its hand on its plans for renewable energy in Australia.

"The price of installing a home-based energy system has more than halved in the past year, making systems very affordable with the solar PV rebate.

"The big winners from these systems are rural communities, who are benefiting by having systems linked back into the local grid, making every house in town a mini-power station.

"Transporting electricity to regional towns can be expensive and costs will only increase as infrastructure ages. While large projects make for great announcements, the reality is that remotely generated energy being pumped to regional towns - such as from wind farms - is costly and ineffective when compared to local grid-connected energy systems.

"The good news is Australia is leading the world in developing cost-effective and simple home energy packages, where consumers can purchase renewable energy systems in exactly the same way as they would a washing machine or dishwasher. This technology has the potential to make rural communities the biggest producers of their own energy.

"Councils in regional Australia are starting to see the benefits of having grid-connect energy system - for example, Towong Shire Council in Victoria and Zen Home Energy Systems are running a program for 300 homes to have renewable home energy and hot water systems installed.

"There are dozens of local councils across regional and metropolitan NSW, Victoria and South Australia interested in these programs, but no one can make a commitment without knowing what the Rudd government's plans for the solar industry are.

"Zen Home Energy Systems alone has $60 million of investment subject to a continued solar PV rebate or gross feed-in tariff.

"Without a national planning framework for the Australian renewable energy sector, there is a real risk that this level of investment in renewable energy for regional Australia simply won't continue."

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