After tossing up for years as to whether to get solar panels, it took a global pandemic for Jorma Soininen to commit to putting them on his roof.
“Covid was part of the decision to get them, because we were at home a lot more, and you spend less money at home and you get an accumulation of funds in the bank to do things like home renovations,” Mr Soininen said.
“I procrastinated about it, but I always wanted solar because that seemed to be the way to go.”
The Flynn resident had 18 panels installed on his roof in July, and has been receiving negative power bills in the months since.
“We noticed the benefits straight away,” he said.
“They should be mandatory on new houses, and I’ve been seeing panels popping up everywhere.”
Seeing more panels be installed in the Belconnen suburb should come as no surprise to Mr Soininen, with new figures revealing the area is the solar capital of Canberra.
Data from the Clean Energy Regulator revealed the 2615 postcode – which takes in Flynn, Charnwood, Dunlop, Melba and Spence – had the most solar panels installed in 2020, with 791 homes having them put in place.
Suburbs in Belconnen and Gungahlin accounted for a large amount of installations, with the 2914 postcode (Amaroo, Bonner and Forde) and the 2913 postcode (Franklin, Ngunnawal) making up the top three solar areas.
All up, the ACT installed more than 5400 solar panels across the territory in 2020, the most in a single year for nearly a decade.
Mr Soininen said the demographics of the Flynn area contributed to it leading the charge for the number of solar panels.
“It’s more the age group, a lot of older people out here own their own house so we have the funds available to put up solar,” he said.
“Part of the reason to get the panels was a ‘keeping up with the Joneses’ aspect, because people were putting them up as well over the road just before I did.”
Nationally, more solar panels were installed in 2020 than in any other year.
Across the country, more than 365,000 panels were placed on top of roofs.
Since 2001, more than 2.7 million solar systems have been installed nationwide, with one in four homes having solar energy.
Project manager at the Canberra-based Mondiaux Solar, Howard Lian, said 2020 was the peak time for household solar.
“Covid was one of the main reasons for it, but the second reason was because the market for solar panels became more affordable and the panels were more efficient,” he said.
“For us, 2020 started off as a normal year and then Covid happened, and as people started to work from home more, they wanted to see how they could reduce their electricity costs.”
Mr Lian said the demand for solar energy was not likely to let up any time soon, with the ACT government’s sustainable household scheme to begin in coming months.
Canberrans will be able to take out interest-free loans of up to $15,000 to install solar panels as part of the scheme.
For Mr Soininen, he said the benefits of solar panel ownership were only just beginning.
“After three years or so, the system would have paid for itself, so everything else is a bonus,” he said.
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