Bendigo takes a shine to solar

Power: Bendigo Sustainability Group president Keith Reynard. Picture: GLENN DANIELS

Power: Bendigo Sustainability Group president Keith Reynard. Picture: GLENN DANIELS

BENDIGONIANS are embracing solar technology at a rate above the national and state average.

Climate Council figures released earlier this month on the top postcodes for solar uptake show that 14.2 per cent of households in the Bendigo electorate have installed solar photovoltaic (PV) systems.

The figure is above the national average of 12.8 per cent and significantly higher than the Victorian state average of 8.9 per cent.

The data, sourced from the Clean Energy Regulator, looked at solar installations by postcode and electorate based on 2011 census data and 2009 boundary electorate data.

When broken down by postcode, the outer suburbs of Bendigo fared better when it came to solar uptake.

Postcode 3551, which includes suburbs Axedale, Epsom, Huntly, Maiden Gully, Sedgwick, Strathfieldsaye and Junourtoun amongst others, had the highest uptake rate in the electorate with 1875 dwellings installing solar PV.

Bendigo Sustainability Group president Keith Reynard welcomed the figures but said there was still a way to go.

"For such a big regional city, it’s got great solar potential," he said.

"We’re at 14 per cent but we’ve still got 86 per cent to go. We’d like to tap into those people and talk to them about the benefits of solar."

"We’d like to take it up to at least 50 per cent."

Mr Reynard said the growth and popularity of solar PV systems in and around Bendigo could be partly attributed to community-run solar bulk buy programs dating back to 2007, which had enjoyed a lot of success.

“We’re the first region to initiate a solar bulk buy program," he said.

"It started from the Strathfieldsaye Community Enterprise group in 2007 as part of their solar rooftops project, which was the first in central Victoria and in regional Victoria." 

He also said there was increased awareness of solar as a power source as well as a significant drop in the cost of solar systems.

"People want that autonomy, people feel helpless stuck into a centralised energy system," he said.

"Having a solar system installed gives people the control."

"When we started our program, a 1kW system was worth about $16,000. Now you could get 8-10kW system for the same amount."

But he urged the community to continue support solar and to keep the pressure on governments and industry to improve solar technology.

"We don’t want Australia to be left behind – other countries are moving ahead at a rapid pace," he said.

"We risk falling off the pace entirely."

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