According to recent figures from the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS), people living Down Under have taken strongly to the use of renewable energy trend. New data reveals that 1 in 5 Australian households now uses solar energy within the home. Karen Connaughton, a spokeswoman from ABS, said in a press release that the bureau has been collecting data on solar energy use since 2011. Since then, the percentage of Australians using solar power technologies has skyrocketed.

Solar power in numbers

In addition to the large amount of Australians using solar technology to power their homes, a growing number of people have solar hot water systems installed in their homes. This is what pushes the figure up to 19 per cent, creating the 1 in 5 designation.

“We started publishing statistics on solar electricity in 2011”, Connaughton said in the release, “and back then the numbers were pretty small – only about five per cent of households. Jump just three years, to 2014, and there are solar panels being used by fourteen per cent of all households. Add in solar hot water heating and we’re up to 19 per cent, so one in five households are now using some form of solar power.”

Solar power use by state

When it comes to solar power, residents of South Australia are paving the way for the rest of the country. According to the release, 24 per cent of households in this state use solar for their electricity, followed by Queensland (20 per cent), Western Australia (16 per cent), Victoria (11 percent) New South Wales (10 per cent), Tasmania (7 per cent) and Northern Territory (6 per cent).

Australia’s broader energy policy

Though movement toward sustainable energy is certainly progressing, the country has a way to go. Australia currently exports about 5 per cent of the world’s energy, with black coal being the largest contributor to the energy industry. About 49 per cent of Australia’s energy is black coal, which is known to be a high-emissions form of energy.

Natural gas is also on the rise in Australia, with the country projected to become the world leader in natural gas exports. While this form of power has lower emissions than coal, it’s still not a sustainable source – it’s carbon-emitting and correlated with fracking, which has consequences for groundwater health, chemical use and water waste.

Although Australia has an energy policy rooted in non-renewable energies, the fact that solar power is on the rise is a promising sign. It remains to be seen whether it will overtake coal and natural gas in the future.

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