Solar Energy Information Centre


The Solar Energy Information Centre in Western Australia (built in 1989)


In 1987, plans produced to set up a privately run information centre were put in place. The Solar Energy Information Centre Trust was formed, funds raised and as part of a development deal with architect/builder, Garry Baverstock, the Centre was completed and opened in 1989.

It was a seminal influence on the evolution of information services in Australia. The industry had the opportunity to display and publicise its wares, and it was a catalyst for a number of professionals, architects, builders, designers and manufacturers to increase their focus and commitment to energy efficiency an the use of solar energy and renewables.

The Centre operated for about 6 years and closed in 1995/6 due to financial and economic pressure. Many other centers operated at the time, but it was the first comprehensive private initiative in Australia, perhaps the world.

Here are some key aspects of this project:

  • Opening day
  • Original business plan
  • Political considerations at the time
  • Awards won
  • Information philosophy developed
  • Other information centers in the world
  • Forerunner solar-e.com

The Centre was based on three notions:

  1. The future of the planet environmentally, ecologically, economically and above all ethically on the expanded use of solar energy.
  2. Governments are particularly inept in orchestrating change due to the complexity of lobby groups’ short term economic thinking and placation of the ignorant electorate.
  3. Legislation and compliance is only effective once individuals and corporations start making decisions in their own and the community’s best interest and it is already a part of mainstream culture.

It is obvious that government officers in the early 21st century are patently aware of all this, but due to bureaucracy inertia as an effect of point 2, are powerless to help move progress along at the speed that is desirable.

Is there a market?

Yes, there is a market. In the late 1980s and early 1990s it was early but a study at the Solar Energy Information Centre proved there was a particular market, which a particular approach could, given enough resources, tap into. Refer to following research:

“Energy Efficiency in the Home: Is there a viable market in the 90’s?”

This content has been provided by RISE (Research Institute for Sustainable Energy) as part of undergraduate level revision and the expanded knowledge program associated with the Master of Science in Environmental Architecture course.