The uptake of residential rooftop solar continues to break records. In July, Australia recorded a “best ever” month of solar installations defying the disruption caused by COVID-19 and surging past 2.5 million rooftop solar installs. Now, a massive 27% of all Australian homes have a solar system.
Solar is booming locally
The story in our region is also a good one. Since May 2020 when the latest round of MASH (More Australian Solar Homes) started, over 161 households in the Macedon Ranges, Mt Alexander and Hepburn Shires have ordered solar through the bulk-buy. This is 640 kilowatts of more solar for our region.
Now 34% of homes in Mt Alexander Shire have solar, making it one of the top solar shires in Victoria but still behind Indigo Shire with 42% solar. Almost 11.4MW of solar has been installed on homes in the Mt Alexander Shire, with around 3MW of that through the MASH bulk-buy. Neighbouring shires are a little lower – with the Macedon Ranges Shire on the Aussie average of 27%, Hepburn Shire at 25% and the Bendigo region at 23%. The question is how much higher can these numbers go?
From reporting from our solar supplier, Cola Solar, we know that the main reason why some customer installations are taking longer than the expected 6 weeks is because of export limitations from Powercor (the owner of the poles and lines in our region). They have to approve the connection of new solar PV systems to the grid. If the local grid infrastructure is close to, or at, capacity then new applications get knocked back or export limited.
What this means is that you can still get the size solar PV system you want, but you won’t be able to export all the excess solar power that it generates and get a credit from your electricity retailer for it. Some people respond by getting a smaller solar system, others get the size system they want and put up with the export limitations or add a battery, and some decide not to go ahead at all.
This is a big issue for our region as we try to move to greater use of renewables. The Central Victorian Greenhouse Alliance, the Castlemaine-based not-for-profit organisation that owns MASH is working with councils, sustainability groups, Powercor and the state government on initiatives to address this issue.
‘Growing’ our own
Like our vegies, we reckon that ‘growing your own’ makes a lot of sense when it comes to electricity. Why would you want to keep getting power from dirty coal-fired power stations that are hundreds of kilometres away, transported over a creaking grid infrastructure?
Locally generated renewable energy is smarter, cleaner and more efficient. What’s not to love?