Electrifying our lives with Professor Renate Egan

Working on solar since the 1990s, Professor Egan has helped to transform the way we consume energy, more recently taking up the challenge to “electrify everything”.

Professor Egan joins us in the most recent episode of Rewired, explaining the role she has played making solar a common and affordable technology and looking ahead to future opportunities.

“When I started, the price for solar modules was like $12 to $15 a watt. And now we’re seeing at it 20 cents a watt…”

She is living her vision, investing in a small solar system in 2008 that she has since expanded and backed up with battery storage. Her own electrification journey has seen her switch to an electric vehicle and she aims to replace her gas cooktop and water heater within the next year.

“In four months, we’ve put 4000 kilometres on the car. And I haven’t been to a petrol station once.”

In 2013 Professor Egan co-founded Solar Analytics, which provides monitoring information to help solar households understand their energy generation and usage.

The platform is helping households to capture the most value from the energy generated on their rooftops and help to integrate newer technologies like home batteries and EVs.

“Solar is now so cheap, that if you can put it on your roof, you’re mad if you don’t.”

This is part of a mission to improve the customer experience, which she says in the past has been technical and confusing.

Solar panels on roof of Australian home
Solar panels on roof of Australian home.

While Australians are installing solar at world-leading rates, she is optimistic that there are opportunities for massive growth.

“We need to change the way we deliver the technology to make sure that we can grow another tenfold, because we need to see another tenfold growth.”

Acknowledging that the industry is navigating some challenges associated with the dramatic growth of solar, Professor Egan explains that we have a toolkit to manage the issues. We just need to communicate the benefits with everybody.

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