Energy for households
Solar power has an important role to play as we make the transition to a lower emissions future and Victorians are doing their bit by enthusiastically embracing small scale solar systems.Solar energy can be a great option for many households – it cuts fossil fuel usage, reduces air pollution and allows independence from conventional energy supplies.
Victoria offers fair and reasonable Feed-in Tariffs for small-scale solar systems, as well as support for large-scale solar projects and emerging technologies at the research and development stage.
These are just some of the ways that the Victorian Government is supporting investment in energy technology innovation to find new and improved ways to meet our future energy demand.
Harvesting solar energy
Useful energy can be harvested from the sun in a number of ways. One of the most cost-effective means is to use energy from the sun to directly heat hot water for domestic use. Since July 2006 Victoria has required all new homes to meet 5-star building standards - including the use of either solar hot water or a rainwater tank. The Victorian Government is also supporting greater uptake of solar hot water through the Victorian Energy Saver Incentive.
Solar energy can also be converted into electricity. This can be done in one of two ways:
Solar photovoltaic converts sunlight directly into electricity using technology such as PV panels on rooftops and PV concentrating systems.
Solar thermal concentrates sunlight through the use of lenses and reflectors to produce electricity from a steam turbine.
Solar energy conversion to electricity and heat (as hot water, steam or direct process heat) has many characteristics that set it apart from other energy sources. Unlike most other sources of energy, solar does not require mechanical conversion as electricity can be produced directly through the use of photovoltaic materials. Solar energy is the only energy source that is used at a range of scales which vary from a single solar panel on a house through to large scale power stations capable of powering hundreds of thousands of homes.
Making solar technology more accessible
Compared to other electricity generation technologies, solar electric technologies are currently at an early stage of development - and consequently are relatively expensive compared to other forms of electricity use. To reduce the costs of these technologies and make them more accessible for future use, the Government is taking several steps:
- A Solar Atlas will provide information to project proponents on which areas of the State have the best solar regime;
- Solar Fellowships will provide Victorian professionals with an opportunity to gain valuable international experience which they can then use to build Australia's local solar industry;
- Feed-in-Tariffs have been established to encourage greater use of distributed, small-scale photovoltaic units;
- Funding is being provided for the Large-Scale Demonstration of pre-commercial solar technologies.