The rich yet to embrace solar

The myth continues to persist that solar energy is the preserve of the rich, but the latest data suggests the further you live from rich suburbs the more popular solar becomes. The prevalence of electricity bill shock amongst households is a far better predictor of uptake than income.

Climate Spectator has detailed data on several occasions, from several sources over the last few years which illustrates that solar energy is not some green trinket of the rich. In fact it is most popular in mortgage belt locations and rural areas.

Yet the myth persists, and so the REC Agents Association has released updated data on the proportion of households with solar systems by postcode and the incomes associated with these locations.

The chart below summarises the results with each little dot corresponding to a postcode (click the chart to expand it).  What it shows is that there’s pretty much no relationship between the level of incomes of a postcode and the proportion of households installing solar.  If anything there is a very weak trend (shown by the slightly downward sloping black line) of lower installations of solar as households become richer. 

Proportion of households with solar systems relative to income by postcode

According to the report the top 10 solar suburbs in each State and Territory shows in almost all cases they had a lower income than the state average.

Perhaps the two things that do stand out in the data are that rural areas have higher installation rates than capital cities (lots of red dots above the black line and green dots below it) and the very, very rich suburbs have a concentration of low installations of solar panels as illustrated by the concentration of green dots down the lower right corner.

According to Ric Brazzale, President of the REC Agents Association, “Families living in lower income suburbs are much more likely to install solar than families living in wealthier suburbs.” He notes that, “the further you live away from the CBD of a major city, the more likely you are to install solar.”

Rather than level of income being a driver of solar uptake, according to the report they are  likely to include the relative importance of power bills to householders, level of home ownership and level of new home and renovation activity.

The five suburbs in Australia with the largest number of solar systems are:

·                     Bundaberg area, Queensland;

·                     Mandurah area, Western Australia;

·                     Hervey Bay area, Queensland;

·                     Werribee area, Victoria; and

·                     Hoppers Crossing area, Victoria.

All five areas have below State average income levels.