How your solar rooftop helps the climate

How can switching to solar power reduce greenhouse gas emissions? What effect can one household actually have? Here are a few facts.

Sticking with coal-generated electricity will cost you more over time: and the taxpaying community and the world will also pay, through the effect of burning carbon.
Australia's greenhouse gas emissions are high compared with the rest of the world, and here in the inner west, we're lagging in the take-up of solar.

If you shift to solar you not only help your own household, but future generations. And joining with others to lobby for wider action magnifies your contribution.

How much CO2 can we save by switching to solar?

Every kilowatt of electricity generated in a coal-fired power station produces about a kilogram of CO2. If we switch to producing that electricity by solar, then every kilowatt we generate saves emitting a kilogram of CO2 to the atmosphere.

Over a year, a typical (3kW) household solar PV system in NSW will produce, on average, 11.7kWh of electricity per day. That is 11.7 x 365 or just over 4,200kWh in a full year. So over 25 years, one household alone could save over 100 tonnes of CO2.

How are we doing in the inner west?

Only 4% (just one in twenty five) of Leichhardt roofs have solar PV panels. Outside the inner city, it's far higher. While awkward roofs, wrong aspect, renting, strata, and heritage constraints are obstacles to installing solar PV on homes in our area, we feel sure the inner west can do better.

PV penetration around Australia 

The obstacles for apartments include regulatory constraints that need to be reviewed. 

How is Australia doing? 

Australia hasn't yet set its target to reduce greenhouse gas emissions beyond 2020, but we are currently among the worst emitters of CO2 per head of population. Most of the electricity produced in NSW comes from coal-fired power stations , meaning electricity use counts for more than a third of the state's carbon pollution.

International emissions reductions to 2020 and 2050 

Burning coal costs us now and in the future

Solar electricity can reduce your power bills, and like other forms of renewable energy it is getting cheaper all the time. But mining and burning coal adds many other costs to our economy.

Australia's rooftop solar potential

... is 179 gigawatts, with an annual energy output of 245 terawatt-hours. That's 25% more electricity than we use.

Your direct costs are only the start . . .

The average NSW home uses 7,300 kWh of electricity each year, at a cost of $1,925 . For a household to draw this power from the grid, about 3.6 tonnes of black coal must be burnt, releasing 7.7 tonnes of greenhouse gases into the atmosphere.More domestic solar electricity means less needs to be supplied from power stations.

Hidden costs to the taxpayer add billions of dollars

In Australia, health impacts from coal-emissions cost $2.6 billion each year . Emissions from mining and burning coal cause major health problems: lung cancer, asthma, cardiovascular disease among them. Government subsidies and tax concessions related to coal mining cost another $2 billion nationally, and up to another $4 billion for coal and gas exploration .

World costs are where the long-term effects kick in

CO2 we release now accumulates in the atmosphere. Every tonne we add to the atmosphere will affect the climate for a century or more. The changes in the climate will reduce the world's Gross Domestic Product. It's a difficult calculation, but it is estimated that every additional tonne of CO2 in the atmosphere costs the world economy about $300 over the time it stays in the atmosphere. If an average Australian household installs a 3kW solar system, it will reduce CO2 emissions by 4.2 tonnes each year it operates. Over a 25 year lifespan, that is 100 tonnes, saving the world economy $30,000.

Looking to the future

By installing solar power to your property, you contribute to the move to protect our climate for the future. If you'd like to hear more about how you can join others in lobbying for change locally and nationally, sign up to our newsletter to keep in touch.

Reaching your solar potential

The APVI Solar Potential Tool (SunSPoT) is an online tool for estimating the potential for electricity generation from PV on building roofs in Australian cities. The tool accounts for solar radiation and weather at the site; PV system area, tilt, orientation; and shading from nearby buildings and vegetation.

Sunulator is a simulation tool that can help you plan for grid-connected solar power. Unlike most other solar calculators, Sunulator uses half-hourly consumption and generation data over a whole year to estimate how much solar generation will be consumed onsite versus exported. Based on electricity tariff information, it then calculates the impact on your electricity bill and projects the savings over a 30-year time frame. Financial results include payback period, net present value and return on investment.