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By Simon HradeckyEditorDate: 30 January, 201816:09:49New solar panels will be installed at some of Australia’s most iconic malls and shopping centres this year, with retailers expected to make significant cuts to energy costs in the face of soaring electricity costs.
The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission has given the green light for the installation of more than 10,500 solar panels in retail and commercial buildings across the country.
The ACCC has also set a goal of installing around 4,000 modules at each of Australia and New Zealand’s national parks.
Australia has the world’s highest installed solar capacity and installed around 14,000 megawatts of solar in the past year, compared to just under 8,000 MW in New Zealand.
The number of panels at malls has risen significantly over the past few years, but some retailers are still not as keen on installing panels as the ACCC wants.
Australian Retail Consortium boss Andrew Taylor told The Australian Financial Review that retailers are more likely to look at other ways to make savings, such as using less energy in areas that are currently under solar panels.
“Retailers are really looking at the cost and cost effectiveness of doing things differently,” he said.
“For example, we are going to go into areas where there are currently no solar panels.”
He said that when it comes to residential solar, the number of installed panels in the country had dropped from a peak of 2,500 in 2014 to less than 100 this year.
“We have got to make sure that there are enough solar panels on the grid,” he added.
Australia’s retail and retail service industry has struggled for years with the increasing cost of solar panels, with many struggling to keep up with the soaring cost of the technology.
In the last year, Australia’s wholesale electricity prices have risen by more than 25 per cent, and the number in retail has more than doubled.
In June, ACCC chief executive David Gorman said the number was set to grow further as it sought to rein in rising energy costs.
“The more we see the cost of electricity go up, the more we’re going to see the need for more solar and other forms of renewable energy,” he told the ABC.
“That is not going to just come from the sun, it’s going to come from other forms, from other sources, including wind and solar and batteries.”
In February, the ACCCP released a report into the role of the retail industry in the national energy system, which found that a lack of solar and battery storage had led to a high level of energy demand.
The report found that although more than 60 per cent of the electricity used in Australia came from renewable sources, the industry’s reliance on fossil fuels contributed to about 40 per cent.
“Australia is the only developed country in the world that is a net exporter of energy and that is the reason why our energy prices are so high,” ACCC chair Greg Hunt said at the time.
“If we are not producing our own electricity, we can’t meet our energy needs.
The way we have built up the electricity grid is a huge part of that.”
Mr Hunt said the ACCCA was looking to do more to ensure the industry did not lose its competitiveness and “build on what we have achieved in the last three years”.