Solar rooftops around Australia

Earlier in the year, it was widely reported that Australia had reached the significant milestone of one million rooftop solar panel installations around the country.

That doesn't take into account some of the large-scale solar power farms that are in various sun-drenched parts of the nation, generating renewable energy for all Australians.

Many households recognised how they could shield themselves from rising electricity prices by adopting the renewable technology.

But what has that milestone meant for the country? How have we progressed since?

According to Peter Newton from Swinburne University of Technology and Peter Newman, from Curtin University, Australia's middle and outer suburbs are perfect for more solar rooftop installations.

But what's the catch?

Yet there is a problem when it comes to higher density housing, such as apartments. Rooftop solar on these buildings isn't at the scale where it would make a difference to household energy costs and carbon emissions.

Newton and Newman advise that these high-density housing areas may have to turn to other means of energy generation, such as co and trigeneration, rather than solar power, to achieve their energy needs in a sustainable way.

They also make the point that structural changes are necessary for people to switch to solar, such as new policies and support.

But these points do raise a question - what people do if solar isn't viable for their dwelling?

Other ways to reduce energy consumption and be more sustainable

If you live in an apartment building or if you rent a home, you can't just install a solar panel system.

People in this kind of situation have to find other ways to reduce their energy consumption instead.

This can include simply consuming less power by turning off lights, running the dishwasher less and using more energy efficient appliances.

Small changes, such as using energy efficient light bulbs, can be made in most homes regardless of the owner.

Not to mention, many people consume extra energy and resources through transport. This can be reduced by making greater use of public transport, walking or cycling. For those living in rural areas who need vehicles, more energy efficient models can be purchased - these are now quickly becoming more common and sophisticated.

All in all, both structural changes and programs by the government will need to be complemented by behavioural changes in the whole of Australian society to reduce energy consumption.

Posted by Charlie Moore