We've come across an interesting opinion piece from The Age's Christine Rau which discusses the predicament of finding an energy efficient way of regulating the temperature of your home, particularly in crowded neighbourhoods:
Whilst she makes some excellent points about the building quality issues that are prevalent in new suburban neighbourhoods, we believe that her proposed solution of getting the government to pay for solar panels to place on rooftops to cool these buildings can be improved upon.
The main concern we have with this idea is that because they are inefficient and require massive amounts of heating and cooling, we should address the symptom, not the cause. Even in these crowded neighbourhoods there is room for shading, for sun-sails and window-shades. Next time you drive past one of these neighbourhoods, have a look at the roofing - it is almost always dark or black. Paint the roof a light colour, stick in 30cm of insulation (the recommended level in Europe now) and watch that power bill fall through the floor as both heating and cooling requirements are diminished.
Another concern that we have is with the concept of getting the government to fund this. Why should the government fund the cooling of the building we have chosen to live in? If a taxpayer choses to purchase or rent a well-designed home, why should their tax dollars go towards putting solar panels on the roof of a poorly designed home or commercial building?
The next issue we have with the argument is that the power industry in NSW is privatised (rightly or wrongly), and hence it is not the responsibility for the NSW government to install generating capacity on people's roof tops.
Finally, if we need GigaWatts of solar power, why place it on roof tops at all? Not many residential roof tops are the perfect orientation for solar power, and there are inefficiencies involved in running many small solar installations. If the government is going to get into this game, it really should be in the form of solar farms that are installed on the ground or on the top of very large buildings and warehouses where the efficiencies of scale can be harnessed.