Solar Energy Australia / What is Australia’s Solar Energy Policy?
Australia together with the United States was one of the world’s industrialized nations that did not sign the Kyoto Protocol. The Kyoto Protocol is an international agreement setting binding targets for industrialized nations to reduce emissions of greenhouse gases.
–The picture above represents an array of solar dishes located in a small community west of Alice Springs, Australia. Photo is by Curtis Morton-Lowerlighter.-
Australia, as one of the industrialized nations that did not sign the protocol, has made a 180-degree turn on its long-standing policy of skepticism against climate change. The federal election that will be held next year is probably part of the reason for the about-face since polls show consistently that Australians believe and are concerned about the effects of climate change.
Why the Shift?
The shift in policy has also come amidst the torrent of scientific data and statistics that has recently been made available that supports the theory that it is the excessive carbon emissions from traditional energy sources that is the major cause of global warming today. The emissions energy sources like coal, petroleum, and natural gas are thought to be responsible for potentially catastrophic warming of the planet.
In a report commissioned by the British Treasury, dire economic consequences are predicted if the trend of present climate change continues. This comprehensive report was written by World Bank economist Sir Nicholas Stern.
Solar Energy Australia / The Future
UK Chief scientific adviser Sir David King, commenting on the report, has said that if action is not taken soon the world will see a downturn much like the Great Depression and the two World Wars. The impact alone of rising sea levels will have enormous impact on global economies, leaving cities flooded. This flooding will cause displacement of people in the hundreds of millions.
However, in a statement issued by Prime Minister Howard, he says that he remains unequivocal in his support for renewable energy sources although he prefers nuclear power as the energy future of Australia. Howard also said that solar energy alone cannot provide the base load that coal power has provided or as he believes nuclear power can in the long run.
Solar Energy Australia / Incentives
There are government rebates of up to AU$ 8,000 for homes and community-use buildings except schools. The Solar Homes and Communities Plan is responsible for implementing this program. On May 13, 2008 however, there was an amendment to this plan limiting this program only to those whose incomes are less than AU$ 100,000. Government estimates that this limitation will reduce the number of solar installations by up to 60 percent.
Grants are also available to schools through the National Solar Schools Program. These grants of up to AU$ 50,000 are available to schools who want to install 2 kW or other measures. This program started July 1, 2008 and replaces the green vouchers for schools program.
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