Solar for renters and apartment dwellers

Stucco apartments solar system

Renters and residents of strata complexes have traditionally struggled to access solar. Dr Björn Sturmberg and Anna Cumming report on how these groups can join the solar revolution.

IN AUSTRALIA, we have an ‘energy trifecta’ of famously abundant sunshine, infamously high electricity prices and efficient solar supply chains. It’s no surprise then that Australians have embraced the option of rooftop solar systems at record rates. By September this year we’d collectively installed over 1.7 million solar systems, and in Queensland and South Australia every third house is solar powered. Forecasts all agree that the solar boom is far from over, particularly now that the advent of affordable household battery systems is fuelling the divergent dreams of either becoming a ‘gentailer’ (generator–retailer) of your excess solar power in a peer-to-peer network, or defecting from the grid entirely.

While the growing ubiquity of solar is a wonderful outcome environmentally, socially it is causing tension between the ‘solar haves’ and ‘solar have nots’. To be clear, the solar haves are in fact saving all Australians money on their electricity bills1 through their supply of excess solar power to the wholesale market at times of high demand. Still, the cheapest source of electricity for the Australian home is behind-the-meter solar and those who cannot access this are being left behind to bear the full burden of skyrocketing electricity prices.

One main reason for being locked out of solar is not owning your own roof. Renters and apartment dwellers make up more than one in three Australians and have traditionally struggled to access solar; the grid is also missing out, as all those roofs represent significant untapped solar potential. Happily, the demand is there, and options are emerging even for these tricky market sectors.

Read the full article in ReNew 142.