Both 2017 and 2018 were bumper years for residential solar in Australia. And one company in particular is helping make solar more affordable and accessible than ever before.
“I mean…looking after the environment, reducing greenhouse gases, climate change – all of the above,” says Adelaide-based Margaret John Thomas, when asked why she installed her solar panels earlier this year. “Saving money is a bonus, but I believe we all have to get rid of coal. This is our little contribution.”
When it comes to solar power, Australia is breaking records. According to the Clean Energy Council, 2017 was the biggest year on record for rooftop solar installations.
Solar represented an impressive 20% of all clean energy generated in Australia in 2017, and 3% of total Australian electricity. Some 21 large-scale solar projects were installed last year – the Bungala Solar Farm in Port Augusta, South Australia, is powering some 82,000 homes alone.
Oh, and 2018 has already beaten 2017’s records. And the year isn’t even done yet.
In short, if you’re one of those people that really likes the environment (we are), there’s a fair bit to get excited about. And it’s largely thanks to the contributions of people like Margaret.
The increased uptake in solar is also thanks, in equally large part, to companies such as ShineHub, who are making it easier – and more affordable than ever before – for Australian communities to access the environment- and wallet-saving benefits of solar.
Margaret, who had her panels switched on in March 2017, is a ShineHub customer. After following a recommendation from the National Trust, Margaret and her husband signed on with ShineHub as part of their community solar program. The program offers discounted rates for communities who get together and make a big purchase. “I think we saved a couple of thousand on the installation,” says Margaret, “but we’ve saved a lot more than that on our bills.”
ShineHub’s goal is simple: to replace big energy with community solar. And co-founder Alex Georgiou is passionate about providing an alternative, accessible solar option for individuals and communities who want to make the switch. “We saw that the residential solar market was broken and outdated,” he explains. “We wanted to fix it with a modern approach, and we’re excited about our business because we're able to completely reshape how people access solar.”
For those interested in residential solar, ShineHub makes things as easy as possible. They strip out all the confusing terminology, help people find the best options for them, provide smart software for monitoring energy usage, and offer a range of different payment options and plans, including zero deposit loans from Bank Australia, to help make solar as financially viable for as many Australians as possible. In essence, it’s a one-stop shop for getting panels on the roof at a price you can afford.
While the past couple of years have seen a boom in solar installations, Alex says the interest is now shifting to batteries. “Without a battery, you need to use your solar power straight away, right as it's being generated on your roof,” he says. “Recent studies show that 43% of Aussie homeowners are interested in batteries, but only 2% have them… We're trying to bridge that gap by helping people understand how it all works, and decide if they want it for their house.”
In addition to solar panels, Margaret also has a battery. And in her bushfire-prone neck of the woods, she says the battery has helped give her and her husband peace of mind – enabling her to power her house sufficiently, even when bushfires turn the lights out. “We can just about run the whole house off the battery if there’s enough light to keep recharging it during the day,” she says. “We feel like we’re independent to a bigger extent – that makes us feel good.”
The energy monitoring tools provided by ShineHub have also helped Margaret become more conscious of her energy use, and she says that as they learn more tricks to conserve energy, their bills just keep coming down.
At 72 years old, you mightn’t think of Margaret as your typical solar-adopter. But that’s half the point of ShineHub: to enable and empower Australians, no matter their age, background or financial situation, to make the switch as simply as possible.
And anyway, as Margaret puts it: “We’re planning on being here a long time!”
Find out more about ShineHub, a Bank Australia customer, on their website.