Solar PV and energy poverty in Australia's residential sector

Author name: 
Hammerle, M
Burke, PJ

Expanding access to solar photovoltaics (PV) may help to reduce the incidence of energy poverty. Yet little is known about the strength and magnitude of this relationship. This paper uses cross-sectional survey data from the Australian Bureau of Statistics to conduct a retrospective analysis of the effects of having rooftop solar PV for Australian households. As the main identification challenges are the potential for omitted variables and reverse causality, we present results for regressions controlling for potential confounders and also use an instrumental variable approach. The study finds that having solar PV is associated with a large decrease in the likelihood of experiencing energy poverty based on objective indicators that compare household incomes and energy bills. Having solar PV is also associated with a reduction in self-reported difficulty in paying bills on time, although this effect is less robust across estimations. The findings could inform future policies for promoting residential solar PV through an improved understanding of likely impacts.

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