26 July 2012

Solar water heaters only part of the picture – Environment Commissioner

Parliamentary Commissioner for the Environment Dr Jan Wright has released her report into solar water heating and renewable energy today.

The report, Evaluating solar water heating: Sun, renewable energy, and climate change, shows that solar water heaters save electricity, but not when it's needed most.

"This investigation asks to what extent solar water heaters can help reduce the need to build more fossil fuel power plants which emit carbon dioxide  the major climate-changing greenhouse gas.

"While solar water heaters save electricity, they are least effective when savings are needed most – on the cold dark days in winter when people have their heaters and lights running and fossil fuel plants are cranked up to meet this peak demand.

"Flattening this peak demand is needed if we are to avoid building more fossil fuel power plants and meet the Government's renewable electricity target. Unfortunately solar water heaters  even in large numbers  don't help much with this.

"Solar water heaters do have a role to play though  for instance, partnered with a wetback in a log burner where there is no access to the electricity grid."

A copy of the report is available here