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Greens encourage govt to warm to solar energy

Greens encourage government to warm to solar energy

The Green Party has congratulated the Government on its plan to make solar water heating compulsory on new homes but says more must be done to bring the price down first.

The Energy Minister has today been reported as saying that solar panels will “soon” be a requirement on up to 10,000 new homes built every year.

Green Co-leader Jeanette Fitzsimons says the cost of installing solar panels could be reduced by either negotiating with or requiring banks to provide ‘solar mortgages’ where families can borrow more to build a house with solar water heating because the electricity savings will ensure a way of paying it back.

Ms Fitzsimons also repeated the Greens' plan, proposed for several years now, to call tenders to install units in all suitable public sector buildings over five years, to provide economies of scale for the industry and ensure there would be sufficient trained installers to do the work competently.

“The public sector should be taking the lead by installing solar panels on suitable buildings such as hospitals, state houses, prisons and schools,” said Ms Fitzsimons, the Green Party’s Energy spokesperson.

“Government power consumption would be significantly reduced and the solar industry can begin to operate on a cost-effective economy of scale, making installation an even cheaper proposal.

“The Greens have been promoting solar energy for years as a more cost-effective and sustainable way of heating our water than electricity so it’s very encouraging to see the Energy Minister commit to solar heating. However, he needs to widen his goal from just 10,000 systems being installed on new homes every year.

“New homes are being built at more than twice that rate, even allowing exemptions for shady areas and one-person apartments, and more must be done to encourage solar use on existing buildings.”

“Heating water with solar energy rather than electricity can cut a household’s power consumption by 25 per cent over a year. Solar heating makes sense in terms of saving money, saving our environment and saving people the agony of a cold shower every time a power company is forced to switch the hot water off.”

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