Western Australia has had a long tradition of getting energy from the sun, and WA has the largest number of solar hot water systems installed in Australia, according to Western Australia's largest peak body for enterprises supporting sustainability.
Figures from the Australian Bureau of Statistics released for 2008 reveal a solid growth in the use of solar hot water heating in Western Australia, according to Western Australia's largest peak body for enterprises supporting sustainability.
The Australian Bureau of Statistics collects household energy use and conservation data every three years.
Solar energy was used by 7% of Australian households for heating water in 2008, a 61% increase from 2005 when only 4% of homes used solar energy for hot water.
But Western Australia has had a long tradition of getting energy from the sun, and WA has the largest number of solar hot water systems installed, with over 180 000 households with solar water heating, making up 21.5% of all homes in WA.
"Using sunshine and not electricity to generate hot water in WA makes a lot of sense and reduces greenhouse gas emissions - and one fifth of homes in WA are doing this," says Dr Ray Wills, Chief Executive of the Western Australian Sustainable Energy Association Inc. (WA SEA).
"But there is more to do - the use of solar hot water in regional WA outstrips the city, with 31.4% of homes outside of Perth using solar, while only 18.5% of homes in the city have solar hot water systems installed."
The gain in the number of solar hot water heaters in Western Australia turns around what was previously bad news - the proportion of homes with solar hot water installed dropped dramatically in the 1990s and into the first part of this decade. In 1992, 24% of homes in Perth used solar hot water systems, dropping to a low between 2002 and 2005 when installations were only around 14% of households in Perth."
"However, while the number of homes with solar hot water installed in 2008 is still less than in 1992, significant growth has occurred from the bottom of the market in WA three years ago, growing from 14% to 18.5% of homes in the city have solar hot water systems installed in that time," says Dr Wills.
The sector is seeing renewed growth, particularly as a result of consumer concern over greenhouse gas emissions coupled with government incentives for the installation of solar hot water, as well as a way of dealing with growing energy bills by heating water with free solar energy.
Jobs growth in the sustainable energy sector has been challenged by the lack of adequate investment and workforce availability in 2008. Last year, many sustainable energy businesses across Australia were challenged by skills shortages, and were struggling to compete with the salaries the mining industry was prepared to pay for workers.
"Many businesses in the sustainable energy sector have a large number of positions still unfilled from last year, and with the projected national growth, businesses in the sustainable energy sector can expect to grow and will require more workers to deliver a more sustainable economy for all Australians across all regions," says Dr Wills.
"In Western Australia, the Barnett Government made significant election commitments that can build more sustainable energy generation in the state, and the downturn in the mining sector provides a significant opportunity to ramp up government action and create employment in new, sustainable projects across Western Australia" says Dr Wills.
WA Sustainable Energy Association Inc. (WA SEA) Media Release - 29 January 2009
Dr Ray Wills 0430 365 607
1. The Western Australian Sustainable Energy Association Inc. (WA SEA) is a chamber of businesses that are providing the commercial solution to climate change through their products and services, or that simply aspire to be more sustainable in their own energy use. WA SEA is supported by a growing membership of more than 200 industry members that includes the majority of the key energy players in Western Australia. www.wasea.com.au.
2. Australian Bureau of Statistics Cat 4602.0.55.001 Environmental issues: energy use and conservation March 2008 (release Nov 2008) - http://www.abs.gov.au/AUSSTATS/abs@.nsf/DetailsPage/4602.0.55.001Mar%202008?OpenDocument
3. Australian Bureau of Statistics Cat 1367.5 Western Australian Statistical Indicators June Quarter 2007 (release Jul 2007) - http://www.abs.gov.au/AUSSTATS/abs@.nsf/ProductsbyReleaseDate/8EFE2DA109B3A23ACA257368001315E8?OpenDocument