Thesis: Government policy and domestic photovoltaic installations in Western Australia: policy development processes, interactions with consumer motivation and intragenerational equity considerations
The research will assess the current status of domestic solar (photovoltaic) renewable energy systems in Australia. This will include the extent to which Commonwealth and local government policies and relevant legislation are working to develop a sustainable domestic solar industry, and whether policies are resulting in increased adoption of domestic solar systems. The research will also examine whether domestic solar renewable energy systems are seen as a trusted and economically efficient form of electricity generation for households and the extent to which incentives available as a result of Commonwealth and local government policies are a key motivation for installing systems. Noting that funds required to pay incentives at the Commonwealth, state and local level are paid by everyone, the research will also examine the social equity aspects of policies that support domestic solar installations.
Why my research is important
In a post-Kyoto world where Australian governments are under pressure to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, the role of renewable energy in replacing the incumbent fossil-fuel generating electricity system is becoming increasingly important. The enduring question within the renewable energy policy framework is how much support (economically and otherwise) the renewable energy industry requires to thrive in Australia. The Commonwealth, states and even local governments have come to recognise the important contribution that embedded domestic solar energy can make towards renewable energy targets. However, small-scale renewable energy systems remain a high cost form of greenhouse gas abatement and any financial benefits resulting from the installation of small-scale systems generally accrue to private households installing systems. The question of how much support should be provided to domestic solar energy systems is therefore particularly important. The proposed research will determine the extent to which industry perceives Commonwealth legislation and local government schemes as being successful in promoting (and maintaining) domestic solar energy system installation rates. The research will also address how society perceives the uneven distribution of the costs and benefits of the support for, and installation of, domestic solar energy systems. Findings from this section of the research will provide further evidence as to whether the environmental benefits of domestic solar systems are considered to be more important than the social inequalities of the costs, thereby providing further justification for government investment in small-scale renewable energy technologies.