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Solar booming in Australia

This week, Hawaiian Electric announced it is adding capacity for another 2,800 customers on its rooftop solar program.  There’s still a backlog of applications for households with solar panels wanting to help supply the electrical grid. While the backlog has stalled the solar panel industry here, that business is booming in Australia. HPR’s Bill Dorman has more in today’s Asia Minute.

Figures out this week show installations of solar panels are at their highest level in nearly five years. The most recent surge began last year and has continued to grow through the first quarter of 2017.

The northeastern state of Queensland led the way with the most new capacity—25 megawatts—or enough to power more than 5,000 homes and businesses.

Installations have also been rising in several other states—including South Australia. Home to the city of Adelaide and the location of a series of recent power blackouts.

Australia now gets about 14 percent of its electricity from renewable energy, but most of that comes from hydroelectric power.

Solar is still a relatively minor player in the national power mix, but it is growing. Direct government support and compensation for customers who are able to feed power back to the electrical grid both vary from state to state.

On the national level, the federal government started the Australian Renewable Energy Agency nearly five years ago to “make renewable energy solutions more affordable and increase the supply of renewable energy “in the country.

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