Guest essay by Eric Worrall
Australia’s “climate genius” Seth Griffith explains how households could all be powered by government financed solar with an EV in the garage by 2024.
Clean energy cash splash would cut household bills $4200 by 2035
Australian households would save $4200 on their energy bills by 2035 if governments helped them add solar power and batteries, replace gas cooking and heating appliances and purchase electric vehicles.
The subsidies would cost around $12 billion in the earlier years of such a scheme, but save $300 billion in household energy costs and help reduce the nation’s domestic greenhouse gas emissions by about a third, according to analysis by the energy non-profit group, Rewiring Australia.
Treasurer Josh Frydenberg last month labelled economic risk as the primary motivation for climate action and put it front and centre of the next federal election, due by May next year.
“Australia has a lot at stake. We cannot run the risk that markets falsely assume we are not transitioning in line with the rest of the world,” Mr Frydenberg said.
If governments subsidised early uptake, the savings would soon outweigh the costs, the analysis shows.
…Read more: https://www.smh.com.au/environment/climate-change/clean-energy-cash-splash-would-cut-household-bills-4200-by-2035-20211004-p58x2w.html
Given there are around 8.3 million households in Australia, the $12 billion subsidy quoted by SMH only stretches to $1445 / household. Not nearly enough to subsidise a full solar conversion and EV purchase. And a lot of those households are high-rise apartments, so not a lot of space for the solar panels.
Even if you have the roof space, the energy budget is wafer thin.
I have a friend who lives in a very sunny part of Queensland, whose very large house and garage roof area is covered with solar panels. He has a big battery and an EV. Not because he believes we are experiencing a climate crisis, all this is because he doesn’t trust the government’s ability to run the country or competently provide basic services. He also collects rainwater and grows his own food.
He can *just* about run everything off the solar, except 2-3 times per year when he has to switch on the grid supply. No home heating or cooling, other than a few fans, and this only works when he limits driving to 5-10 miles per day in his EV.
Total cost of all this (including a cheap low range EV) was around AUD $65,000. Scaling this out to every house in Australia, $65k x 8.3 million households = $539 billion.
Of course this setup wouldn’t work for most people. There is nothing average about my friend’s house or his solar setup.
The bit Seth left out, is that even if you have a decent roof space, staying within the energy budget of the solar energy you can collect from an average roof would for most people require some drastic lifestyle changes. Especially if they do not live in a sunny part of a sunny state like Queensland, which experiences mild winters and good sunlight pretty much all year round.
If a person runs an energy intensive home business side hustle, say doing some automobile repairs and arc welding, they would be well and truly stuffed. Same for people who live in Australia’s densely populated cold climate states, which barely see the sun in winter.
There is an additional problem. My friend’s solar panels need a regular wash, to keep them operating at peak efficiency. Above all else Australia is a dusty place, a land of vast deserts and sweeping plains. A lot of dust from our arid interior gets carried and deposited on more populated regions, when the wind blows across our drylands. Australia has enough water for most people to live comfortable lives – but not if every household starts using hundreds of litres per week of additional water, to keep their solar panels clean.