Posted by Andrew Bray
Anyone walking around their local neighbourhood with their eyes open will have noticed the steady advance of solar onto local rooftops. But how many people realise the sheer size of the rooftop solar explosion across Australia?

This week 100% Renewable released an infographic sharing the story of solar’s success in Australia over the last five years. It’s travelled swiftly across social media, with nearly 100,000 views in the first few days.While the graphic contained figures that would be familiar to readers of RenewEconomy, it’s a story that’s not well understood in the wider community.

How many people know there are 1.5 million households with solar on their roof? How many realise that we have a total 2.2 gigawatts of peak capacity and that householders themselves have stumped up $8 billion to install it? How many have heard that the price of a standard solar system is a quarter of what it was four years ago?

The answer: not that many.

Sometimes it can be hard for the general public to know what’s really going on with renewable energy. A concerted effort to paint solar as the primary driver of energy price rises by parts of the electricity sector, government and media has created plenty of confusion out there.

But what we find time and time again, is that when people do hear the truth about the solar revolution underway they are delighted by the progress its making. The solar success story is one Australians are eager to hear.

So to spread the solar love, last Sunday 100% Renewable worked with community volunteers to host a series of thirty Summer Solar BBQ events in suburbs and towns across the country. BBQs and get togethers were run in places as diverse as Rockhampton, Brisbane, Toowoomba, Dulwich Hill, Inverloch, and Bendigo. Sadly the Broome event was cancelled due to cyclonic weather.

You can check out pictures from the day here. Look out for the Hills Hoists!

Hosts invited their neighbours and members of their community to eat, chat and swap their own solar stories. Proud solar owners ran tours of their solar installations, announced the number of solar homes in their areas and shared the ‘Solar Era Dawns’ graphic.

Colin from Bendigo jammed 40 people into his backyard, 8 of them local solar installers. The folks in Castlemaine hosted a BBQ and a soccer showdown at the local soccer club. In Alice Springs the Arid Land Environment Centre teamed up with Stuart Rotary Club to celebrate in blazing 41 degree heat.

Lively conversation was the order of the day. Solar owners love talking about their solar, it seems. This works well, because people considering investing themselves are most likely to go to existing solar owners for advice.

Up to date information was also on hand for politicians, the decision makers who will be setting up structure of our future energy system. Local MPs and candidates in all electorates were invited to join their BBQ, meet their solar owning constituents and receive a certificate celebrating the number of solar homes in their electorate.

In the very marginal Brisbane electorate of Moreton, the sitting member, Graham Perrett, was on hand to receive his certificate. The aspiring LNP candidate, Malcolm Cole, attended with his campaign manager and asked a series of questions about solar and the 12,896 solar homes in this electorate.

Independent MP Tony Windsor received the certificate for his New England electorate celebrating his 8,375 solar homes at a community forum on land, water and gas in Gunnedah.

In Heywood in South Western Victoria, the member for Wannon, Dan Tehan, heard in great detail from a local constituent about the benefits of his investment in a 5kW system. Mr Tehan has promised to display the certificate proudly in his office.

All lower house federal MPs will be receiving certificates in due course letting them know just how many of their voters have invested their own money in solar power.

With 1.5 million solar homes now taking back control of their energy generation – and millions more wondering how they can do the same – there is a huge constituency of people out there who care about the future of solar.

Following on from the success of the BBQs, 100% Renewable will soon be publicly launching a new ‘Solar Citizens’initiative to work with the 1.5 million solar owners across the country – as well as everyone who one day wants solar, or who just thinks its a good idea that Australia puts a panel on every rooftop. Sign up now if you’d like to be kept in the loop before the launch.

And, if you want to see the story of solar reach further out into the community today, take a moment to share our graphic on your facebook page and don’t miss any opportunities to share the real sizzling success story of solar, far and wide.

Originally published on RenewEconomy
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