Victorian Homeowners are calling for solar panels to be protected by new planning rules where compensation would be given should a neighbor block sunlight to their rooftops.
There were more than 142,000 roof-top solar systems installed in Victoria from 2000, and this number continues to grow as more and more people offset rising electricity costs with solar power. Against the investments that homeowners have made on these systems there is a rising housing density of many areas of Melbourne that may block the ability of these panels to function. Whilst there is protection of north facing windows and backyard shade, there is currently no specific planning protection for solar panels.
Darren Gladman, policy officer with the Clean Energy Council has indicated that the council currently encourages neighbours and developers to work together over the shading of solar panels. This may involve repositioning affected solar panels or the developer changing their plans. In the past many developers have paid for repositioning of panels where sunlight may be compromised. The issue of compensation may be more difficult to define, as panels may have a lifespan of 20 years or more, and could generate significant electricity and cost savings during that period.
Many have called for the specific protection as the issue is likely to become more frequent in coming years, and differs from other planning regulations, as in panels need full sunlight and any small amount of shading can have a significant effect on the ability of a panel to generate electricity.