The Impact of Solar Water Heaters in Saving the Environment,
and Economic Realities in Temperate Climates
The following paper clearly states a strong case for the introduction of a consumer rebate scheme in the late 1990's in Western Australia.
A Cleaner Energy Strategy
paper by the Council for Australia Solar Hot Water (C.A.S.H.)
This document presents the advantages to the State, as well as its Homeowners; the significant benefits 'that a solar water incentive scheme will have. It also outlines to Government and Opposition parties, the benefits associated with the large-scale adoption of solar water heaters for domestic and commercial use in Western Australia.
The simple fact is, solar hot, water heaters cost more than regular hot water heaters! Despite this, many governments around the world and within Australia are seeing the wisdom of overcoming that initial cost barrier by providing an incentive to the consumer. The imperative is the environment but the benefits to WA industry cannot be ignored.
The old and tired argument that claims that solar hot water heaters are "uneconomic" just doesn't hold any more. The argument is too narrow, ignores the environmental imperative and retards a strong local market. It seems nonsensical, that in Western Australia with its abundant supply of free, clean solar energy that more residential homes don't employ solar hot water systems.
Further, when it is taken into consideration that the majority of Australia's solar water heater companies have their manufacturing bases in Western Australia, significant benefits by way of direct and indirect employment opportunities (that are currently lost to interstate water heater manufactures) can be gained for the state.
In the past we have relied on our extensive gas and coal deposits for the bulk of our energy requirements. Improved technology and increased competition now means a wider range of energy options can be considered. Indeed, new technology enables us to decrease our reliance on electricity and gas and subsequently reduce the consumption of our finite resources.
Interestingly, despite the ongoing breakthroughs in renewable energy sources such as solar water heating, there has been no real effort made by consecutive state governments to ensure the benefits of these advances are made available to the general public. In fact, it is estimated that sales of solar water heaters have declined to only 10% of the estimated 65,000 hot water systems sold in Western Australia annually, down from an estimated 20% market share in the mid 80's.
Western Australia is in the perfect position to take advantage of the abundant solar energy available to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. The examples of Queensland, New South Wales, Victoria and the Northern Territory has shown that by assisting to reduce the initially higher capital costs of solar water heaters with some form of government sponsored solar incentive scheme, encourages the public to purchase solar water heaters.
Such a scheme in Western Australia will provide a huge boost to the local solar hot water industry and will provide further incentive to the development of green industries and technologies in our State. In Queensland, where the Government has just increased their subsidy to $750.00 for a 2-panel system, sales of solar water heaters have doubled. There is now an expectation that 20% of all water heater sales in Queensland will be solar systems.