Ah solar panels, what a dream. And Australia is clearly a good fit to benefit from them right? Well it’s not entirely true actually. Although solar has a massive part to play in our energy future. Not only are we here at BSPQ massive advocates for solar, but we like to think we can hold a balanced view on this. So let’s have a look at why everyone in Australia should get solar panels… Or not?
Everybody loves to get something for nothing right? Well it’s true, but you might also say “ain’t nothin’ free in this world” (as did 1 rapper “Big Smo“). Well in the case of solar power, it’s not entirely “free”, you always pay in some way. Not only do you have to pay the up-front costs of the solar panels & inverter & installation – you have to think about solar life-cycle too. Now it’s pretty clear that solar panels will last a long time. But how long they take to repay the amount of energy used to create them is a much harder question to answer. The crux here though is, if Australian roofs ALL had solar panels on them (a bit like Germany) we’d have free power all over the freakin’ place!
The storage dilemma
OK right, so imagine everyone gets solar panels on their roof – what next? I mean we’ve all heard of the solar storage dilemma right? This is basically because the moon don’t power no solar panels – so if you want power after dark, you need some stored energy… Or you gotta power some big turbines somehow.
But hold on for a minute. Here’s germany vs Australia (one of the crappest places in the world for solar):
Australia vs the world
OK so Germany have out-witted us on the solar front… We can still make a comeback. I mean, you’ve seen that image of the world’s energy needs for solar right? It’s floated around on Facebook a few times. Here it is in case you missed it:
I never was quite happy with that image, so I thought I’d investigate.Here’s our version of this map (world energy needs) which came out significantly larger than the above image:
Anyway, the idea is that we CAN do it right… Here’s proof:
The image above shows the amount of land required to power all of Australia’s electricity generation needs using the solar power technology of TODAY. Here’s how it was worked out:
- Energy requirements (electricity) of Australia were 1,636 PJ (http://www.industry.gov.au/industry/Office-of-the-Chief-Economist/Publications/Documents/aes/2014-australian-energy-statistics.pdf) in 2012 – 2013.
- In kWh that equals about 455 TWhs
- Each panel is assumed to be a 250W panel producing 5 sun-hours a day on average
- Each panel is assumed to take 1.7 sqm of space
In reality, these figures would be a little different as you may need walking paths etc. for maintenance (if you didn’t have robot drone armies and sophisticated hovering maintenance platforms).