The Australian public has always been quicker to adopt renewable energy technology than our government, but a new survey done by SolarMarket suggests that Australian households are more ready than ever to embrace renewable energy both at home and on the grid. Almost 90 per cent of respondents — out of the 2897 people who answered — agreed that all new houses built in Australia should be equipped with solar panels.
69 per cent of people who completed the entire survey had solar power already installed, but the answers were often unanimous all the same. While almost 80 per cent said that the most important factor in deciding to install solar power was to reduce electricity bills, a surprising 11.4 per cent listed reducing household carbon emissions as their most important consideration. While one of the loudest complaints about household solar panels is that they can be a bit of an eyesore, the majority didn't agree. Almost 70 per cent of people with solar panels said that they actually improved the look of a house, while up to 60 per cent of people without solar panels of their own still agreed.
Given Australia's enthusiastic reception to the news that the we would be one of the first markets for the Tesla Powerwall's release, it's unsurprising that the response to it in this survey is just as keen. Of those who already have solar panels installed, almost 50 per cent have already researched the possibility of integrating a battery into their system, while a staggering 78.40 per cent would be interested in battery technology if it allowed them to move off the grid. Interestingly enough, almost 10 per cent of respondents didn't care how long a battery would take to pay for itself. The most prevalent answer was five years, though the large amount of people who didn't care at all is indicative that people are interested in the other benefits of battery technology — such as the possibility of disconnecting from the grid, or at least gaining extra independence from Australia's electricity companies.
The survey also looked at interest in battery technology compared to the feed-in tariff they were paying. Obviously those with a low feed-in tariff — under 5c and thus dramatically lower than the retail price — were most keen to get their hands on a battery, with almost 60 per cent having researched the possibility. However even out of those who are currently benefiting from a high FiT of over 41 cents, 42 per cent had researched battery storage — potentially already looking forward to the point when their feed-in tariff would be renegotiated.
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Its not only at home where Australians would like to see change, however. As a whole, we want more renewables in the grid, and less dirty coal. A staggering 81 per cent of respondents wanted their energy retailer to invest in more renewable energy, with only 3.71 per cent wanting to see their money put back into coal. With recent reports that wind-powered energy generation is now on par with coal for cost, there's now no reason why this investment shouldn't be happening. Perhaps more surprising is the fact that almost 40 per cent of people don't even care about the cost of the electricity — and would be prepared to pay a premium for renewable energy that could be sourced through the grid.
With the Tesla Powerwall coming to market soon, 2016 is set to be a great year for renewable energy. The price of installing home solar systems continues to lower, and batteries will make the investment viable even with the low feed-in tariffs currently on offer. If you're planning on installing solar panels in the new year, here's one last titbit from the survey for you — out of the small number who were dissatisfied with their solar system, the number of people who didn't know the brand of solar panels or inverters they were installing was overrepresented. Always make sure you do our research before you commit — solar panels are a long term investment, so you'll want to make sure you're going to be happy with them.