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EGEB: Australia’s ‘obsession’ with cheap solar, solar bus shelters in Charleston, and more

In today’s EGEB:

  • Australia’s “obsession” with cheap solar is causing issues down under.
  • Charleston is building a bunch of bus shelters, complete with solar roofs.
  • India is installing rooftop solar on railway buildings.
  • Traverse City, Michigan is setting its own green goals.

Electrek Green Energy Brief: A daily technical, financial, and political review/analysis of important green energy news.

Australia has seen a solar boom recently, but the country’s ABC reports on an “obsession” with cheap solar:

An audit of the Clean Energy Regulator (CER) by the Australian National Audit Office (ANAO) late last year found it is likely there are potentially tens of thousands of badly installed and even unsafe systems on rooftops.

While one in five Australian homes now have rooftop solar installed, only about 1% have been properly inspected by the regulator. Of those inspections, one in six installations were deemed “substandard,” while about one in 30 was marked as outright “unsafe.”

There are a number of issues at play here, including safety concerns — a number of fires have been caused by rooftop solar problems — as well as customer choice. The country’s Clean Energy Council (CEC) says low-quality solar isn’t an issue, and there are very few safety issues overall, while some installers claim the country has been a “dumping ground” for poor products.


Charleston, S.C. is planning on installing 44 new bus shelters this year to offer riders protection from the elements. And those shelters will use rooftop solar to power security lighting, the Post and Courier reports.

Each steel shelter with solar lighting costs about $14,000 — $22,000 including land and construction. Charleston Area Regional Transportation Authority spokesman Daniel Brock said the solar is doing its job:

“The light is sufficient for safety and security, assisting the driver spotting people in the shelter and lighting the system map for customer navigation. The lights have been remaining illuminated into the early (morning) hours.”

Railway Solar

While Charleston is adding solar to bus stations, India is doing the same to railway buildings in its country. The Times of India reports railways are installing solar to save on electricity costs, which are expected to drop by 60 percent once all the solar is installed and functional.

The rail ministry is installing rooftop solar on more than 800 stations. Overall, there’s a plan for 500 total megawatts to power more than 8,000 stations.

Traversing Ahead

While the city council of Lansing, Michigan recently rejected a plan to use more renewable energy in the city, another Michigan city appears to be moving ahead.

9&10 News reports on the small city’s plan to move to 100% renewable energy. By next year, all municipal buildings will be powered by solar and wind. The city’s utility will use 40% renewables by 2025, with fully renewable expected by 2040. Mayor Jim Carruthers said,

“Traverse City, for decades, has been concerned about climate change and renewable energies. We don’t need the coal plants anymore, we can do this with renewables.”

Traverse City (pop. 15,000) isn’t tiny like some communities we’ve seen aiming for renewables in the very near future. But it is small, and it’s nice to see communities setting their own green energy goals outside of larger state plans.

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