Tuesday, June 11, 2013

Solar dreams

I have several Australian friends who smugly post images of their power bills on line. Of course, they have had solar panels installed and their power bills are negligible, or they have been able to gain credit by supplying power to the grid.

I was surprised to learn that more than 10% of Australian homes now have solar panels. This is an extraordinary uptake in the time we have been away. What is interesting to note, is that much of the uptake has been in communities that break one's preconceptions about who might be a solar power advocate: not necessarily the wealthy inner city progressive, but those within the 'mortgage belt'. 

Much of the research into alternative energy is spearheaded by Australia's CSIRO (Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation). A statutory authority, the CSIRO is well respected for its rigor, emphasis on industry collaboration and is held in high esteem internationally. A key area of research is solar energy. One of the organizations breakthroughs has been the integration of photovoltaic cells and the CSIRO's own technology for printing plastic (adopted for plastic bank notes) - in conjunction with several universities and CSIRO's commercial partners. What has been most significant is the size in which panels are able to be printed - up from fingernail size to 30 cm wide - offering enormous scope for this organic technology to be more cost-effectively 'built-in' to new developments and products. 

Our dream is get ourselves solar panels - first for hot water, then general power.. then eventually to power an electric car. It is not inconceivable that one day we could print our very own!

I am very proud that Australia has been so active in adopting solar energy. In the words of Jon Dee, NSW 2010 Australian of the Year “When we move beyond politics and seek common ground together, instead of this adversarial approach which has taken over the world of politics, we can actually get some incredible results. I think Australia has an opportunity to take the lead and, when we do, the world really listens to us.” 

Of course, Australia does get a lot of sun... quite unlike the rest of the world ;-)

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