Report shows solar panels powering Aussie homes for less

ROOFTOP solar panels could help reduce power bills for all households, regardless of whether they install them or not, a report on solar power by the Centre of Policy Development reveals.

The analysis of the photovoltaic panels and subsidies shows the take-up of solar power helps to reduce the wholesale cost of all electricity.

It also found it could reduce summer peak demand, helping to reduce pressure on the current "poles and wires" distribution networks.

As of early April, more than one million solar PV panels were installed on Australian rooftops with forecasts that one in five homes would have solar panels by 2020.

CPD sustainable economy research director Laura Eadie said her report showed rooftop solar still had a key role to play in growing a cleaner, more affordable electricity system.

Ms Eadie's report found the nation's current level of rooftop solar saved between $300 million and $670 million each year in wholesale electricity costs, reducing household power bills as long as power retailers passed the savings on to consumers.

But she warned the future growth of solar energy in Australia needed to be based on consistent government policies, including industry support and the Renewable Energy Target.

"Politicians need to base their decisions on where our electricity system is going," she said.

"Governments which back legacy technologies, while ignoring growing community desires for renewable energy, will face political fallout."

The report also found those who did install solar panels were more engaged in the energy market, ensuring helping to reduce their own personal costs, as well as easing pressure on the National Electricity Network.

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