Research finds solar water heating “pays for itself five times over”

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It is no secret that many Australians care about the environment. In fact, 77 per cent of us feel that solar power is a viable source of renewable energy for use in their daily lives, according to research by Ipsos.

The problem, though, is that it can sometimes be expensive to invest in solar power systems for a home or business. With many bills to pay and budgeting to master, going green can be seen as a financial burden.

However, a study published in the International Journal of Global Energy Issues found that solar water heating “pays for itself five times over”.

Study seeks savings from solar hot water 

Entitled ‘Solar water cost and feasibility of solar water heating system’, the study was printed in 2009 and conducted by scholars in India. A 1,000-litre system installed at a university hostel was studied over the course of several years. Academics analysed the engineering and economics of this technology to make a report on the costs and benefits.

Their method compared solar hot water production per litre with electrical energy approaches, finding that solar heating was 57 per cent of the internal rate of return. As a result of this, this particular solar water-heating system had a payback period of a mere two years, making it a superb investment for the community and the campus.

“Solar energy is the only renewable energy source that has wide range of uses with commercial viability,” commented Sharashchandra Gadge, Vivek Khambalkar, Dhiraj S. Karale, the group of researchers conducting this study.

“The use of solar energy for thermal purposes is the most cost-effective way of utilising the resource. A solar water heating system satisfies the need of warm water.”

Solar water heating is being embraced globally 

While this study was published in 2009, since then other indicators of the popularity of solar hot water heating have come to the forefront. The use of both commercial solar hot water systems and domestic solar hot water systems has increased internationally as well on our own shores, with more than 900,000 solar hot water systems installed throughout Australian states and territories, according to data from the Clean Energy Council.

“The pace of change in Australia’s energy sector has never been greater, and new competitors such as solar power are starting to make it clear that the rest of the energy sector has a simple choice: adapt or perish,” wrote Kane Thornton, CEO of the Clean Energy Council, in an article for the Australian Financial Review.

Indeed, solar power is friendly for the pocket as well as the planet, making it a smart financial investment.