Caring for Creation Through Solar – An Introduction

Climate change is threatening all life on Earth. It is undermining God’s Creation and it will be the poorest and most vulnerable amongst us that are hit the hardest.

The call to care for God’s Creation is central to the Church’s teaching. As is responding to the plight of the poor.

Installing power on our own homes is one simple way to respond to this challenge. What’s more, with the cost of solar falling rapidly and electricity prices increasing, it makes good financial sense as well.

For many of us, however, installing solar on your own home can seem like a daunting task. It feels technically complicated and picking a trustworthy solar company can seem impossible, and it is a larger investment so can feel risky. Not many of us understand the electricity system either and navigating both puts a lot of people off installing solar even before they’ve really begun the journey!

To help with this, the Justice and Peace Office has set up a ‘bulk buy’ pilot programme, Caring for Creation Through Solar. It’s a programme that assists Catholic communities and families who would like to put their faith into action by putting solar on their homes. We have taken care of the research on companies, the right good quality kit, and competitive prices for reliable service and materials. More than this the programme is designed to guide you through the technicalities, options, financial costs and savings and indeed the whole process from initial interest to installation!

The process at a glance…

The ‘Bulk Buy’ ends on May 31st, so if you’re interested please register to attend one of our information sessions here.

Financial Disclosure: The Justice and Peace Office does not receive any financial benefit by your participation in the process, at any stage. Our Solar Consultant’s fees are being covered by the local solar companies.

Why Go Solar?  A Catholic View

Caring for Creation

In his 2015 encyclical, Laudato Si’: On Care for Our Common Home, Pope Francis has reminded us of our Eternal call to look after the gift of the Earth. In it Francis laments and warns against unmitigated consumerism and irresponsible development and the degrading and warming effects they are having on the planet. He calls all people of the world to ‘take swift and unified global action’. More than this, Pope Francis tells us that caring for the Earth is not an optional but ‘integral part of the Church’s teaching on social justice’.

Climate change caused by human use of fossil fuels and loss of natural tree cover is causing a build up of greenhouse gases in our atmosphere which is rapidly changing the climatic conditions across the globe. Increased extreme weather events and increased temperatures will unleash devastating impacts n the operations of the ecosystems on which we rely.

To be protectors of God’s handiwork is essential to a life of virtue; it is not an optional or secondary aspect of our Christian experience.

 – Pope Francis

Caring for the Poor

Jesus’s example of caring for the poor has made emulating that behaviour a deep and longstanding tradition of the Church and what it means to be  people living the Gospel message. In her social teaching the Church teaches we should give ‘preferential option to the poor’, especially the materially poor. More than this we have an obligation to do so not out of charity but out of an obligation to justice. This is because God gave all of Creation to all of humankind without favour so that each of us can have and use what we need for a simple and dignified life. It is unequivocally immoral and unjust to take more than we need, and most especially so when doing this takes from and harms others.

Climate change is a result of such behaviour. The actions of a few powerful countries are harming the lives and landscapes of those less powerful. Climate change will ruin all of Creation but it will be the poor who suffer first and the most. All over the globe poor and vulnerable communities are already feeling the effects of climate change. We only have to look to our near neighbours in the Pacific to see this.

According to the World Bank, Pacific Island nations are some of the most economically and physically vulnerable to climate change and extreme weather events. As the sea rises, land, especially agricultural land, is being inundated. This destroys subsistence farming on which most of the population relies, as well as people’s homes and neighborhoods.

To learn more about the stories of climate change for the poorer and more vulnerable visit the Global Catholic Climate Movement.

Why Go Solar? Great for your Finances and for the Environment

With electricity prices constantly spiraling  upwards and the cost of solar panels coming down – solar makes great financial sense. The price of solar panels has fallen more than 75% since 2009. While the average cost of electricity in NSW has increased 30-40% in the last 12 months.

Installing solar panels on your roof is a significant up-front cost, but once they are paid off solar panels provide free electricity for at least the 25 years of their warranty life!

The cost of solar panels is a fixed cost so they are also a great way to build predictability into your energy costs. It is not a coincidence that the greatest uptake of solar panels has not been in the wealthy suburbs of Australia, but the poorest. Off-setting against rapidly increasing prices and taking control of energy costs are some of the advantages of solar panels.

How much will I save exactly?

The amount you’ll save depends on a few different things, including how much you pay for your system upfront, how energy efficient your household is, how much of your energy use you switch to daytime, the types of government rebates and feed-in tariffs you’re able to access and how fair and transparent your electricity retailer is.

Our installer can provide you with a proper calculation, based on your current electricity cost of how long it will be to pay back your up-front cost. The Federal Government provides some help up with up-front costs and you will also receive payment from your retailer for solar energy you don’t use but feed back into the grid instead.

My 5Kw solar system saves me $500 per quarter on my bill. Having paid $7 500 for the system I paid it off in just under 4 years. I estimate that it will save me another $35 000 over the life of the system – and that’s at today’s prices.

– Solar User

Households leading the way

Having signed onto the Paris Agreement and committed to doing its bit to keep global warming below two degrees, Australia’s greenhouse gas emissions continue to rise.

Our politicians seem to find it impossible to address the challenge of setting Australia on the path to a low carbon future. But Australians aren’t waiting – Australia has the greatest uptake of household solar in the world.  1.7 million households have solar – that’s 1 in 5. And that’s up from 100 000 in 2008. You won’t be alone in joining the solar revolution!

Get Involved

Acting to avert dangerous climate change is a vital response to our faith. Taking part in the Caring for Creation Through Solar project is one way substantive way you can do this and be supported through the process within a community. Together, we can do our share and create hope for the future!