Abbott refused free solar panels, but Turnbull has already bought his | RenewEconomy

Abbott refused free solar panels, but Turnbull has already bought his

Tony Abbott rejected rooftop solar as too expensive to clean and a security risk. New PM Malcolm Turnbull already has solar, but will he say it is good for humanity?


Former prime minister Tony Abbott last year rejected a “Christmas present” of free solar panels for the official Sydney residence at Kirribilli House, arguing that they would be too costly to clean, and posed a “security risk”.

New prime minister Malcolm Turnbull has no such qualms. Turnbull has already installed rooftop solar at his Point Piper mansion, although one suspects it is not quite enough to provide all the energy needs for such a big house. But no doubt Turnbull is appreciative of the lower electricity bills.

Turnbull house

Turnbull’s residence, pictured above in the centre, has more than 20 panels, so probably an array of around 4.5kW.

Nigel Morris, formerly head of Solar Business Services and now CEO of solar PV company RoofJuice Australia, notes: “Change is rarely easy, but what this solar powered home represents is a massive philosophical change at the highest level.”

He would like Turnbull to complete that transformation by replacing Abbott’s “coal is good for humanity”  slogan with a new one: Solar is good for humanity.

“The replacement of Tony Abbott with Malcolm Turnbull demonstrates that we weren’t all a crazy, latte sipping minority set. Turns out, the Coalition and the polls agreed that the government was out of touch and lacking vision after all,” Morris writes.

“Many years have passed since I first met Malcolm Turnbull. I was aware that he installed solar on his home many years ago and had many frank and exciting conversations about solar with him. Time has passed but I actually think he gets it.

“So, yesterday I started an official campaign aimed at our new Prime Minister. I am calling on Malcolm Turnbull to say five simple words “Solar is good for Humanity” . Will you join me in this call? Simply click here.

Editor’s note: Morris has done some more research on Turnbull’s solar system. He writes: Our new Prime Minister  got himself a  3.5kW solar system, which was a whopper back in 1997 when the entire Australian market was 6MW per year (compared to around 800MW per year today). Although I wasn’t directly involved, I do recall that the system features Australian made solar modules and was supplied by the nice folks at TodaeSolar. For what it’s worth according to our historical price data, the average price in Australia was around $12,000 per kW making it a $42,000 investment.

To which the Editor adds: Former Queensland Campbell Newman was also one of the first investors in rooftop solar in his Brisbane home, before launching an anti-solar “inner city latte sipping” campaign against the technology. Let’s hope Turnbull doesn’t follow.


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  1. howardpatr 5 years ago

    Despite Abbott gleefully had his daughter accept about $60,000 for her education from a known LNP supporter BUT he refused refused the PV offer for his weird ideological reasons. Despite this, he is still wondering why the LNP had to dump him???

  2. Stan Hlegeris 5 years ago

    Where did the idea that you need to clean PV modules come from? In all of the eastern states of Australia it rains often enough that you never need to clean normally installed modules.

    I’ve only ever seen one installation in which cleaning was required: on a warehouse roof deep in the tropics, with the panels mounted with almost no slope, next door to the dog track. Even then, a layer of visible dust hardly affected production at all. Only when it got closer to a solid millimeter of dust did it have a measurable effect on output.

    Unless you have a special problem (sticky pollen, maybe?) paying to clean your solar panels is a waste of money.

  3. Charles 5 years ago

    While rubbish coming of Abbott’s mouth is not unusual, I’m baffled as to how the train of thought from “PV panels” to “security risk”. Did he think there were boat people hiding inside of them?

  4. Alan S 5 years ago

    I’ve given up commenting on the nonsense that Abbott talks. Remember the class fool? You started off just scratching your head then quickly learned to ignore him.

  5. Alen T 5 years ago

    Why place the panels in that location? Place them on middle rooftop and avoid shading, as seen on image. Judging from the picture the middle roof section is pitched to west, so may have to spend a bit more on mounts, and I’d suggest pitching to west anyway (rather than purely North), but the increased generation from non-shading will end up paying the extra cost off.

    I hope “solar is good for humanity” catches on, love that phrase.

    • Jacob 5 years ago

      I cannot see the panels in this image. Maybe the author should have drawn a circle around the panels.

      • Alen T 5 years ago

        Look to house/roof left and across road of red car

        • Jacob 5 years ago


          Looks like there is plenty of space remaining to have a lot more panels.

          Maybe waiting for higher efficiency panels to be made. 🙂

  6. Paul Lemming 5 years ago

    Lets hope Mr Turnball invested in an optimized or microinverter system , at least 4 or more of those panels look like they’ll be shaded more often than not. Not my idea of an ideal system design.

  7. Ken Dyer 5 years ago

    Now all he has to do is persuade Greg Hunt and the rest of the cabinet to install solar panels.

  8. Ian 5 years ago

    Wind energy is also good for humanity. That also deserves a major announcement.

    • Dave Muirhead 5 years ago

      Fully agree…solar gets the glory but currently wind’s SA’s major renewables asset,in terms of both economics and reliable 24/24 grid feed in….last I heard,wind blows night and day,and with wind farms usually 20+km across,the power generating capacity does not stop suddenly enough that a similar farm several 100 km away can’t take up the slack…it’s always windy somewhere near,but night’s another thing altogether.

  9. john 5 years ago

    Well when you consider it solar made the coal so of course solar is good for humanity in every respect with out a doubt with out solar there would not be any life on this small over populated planet

    • Dave Muirhead 5 years ago

      I think I get it…10 seconds equates to 2 million years ….let’s not think on that….

  10. Chris Fraser 5 years ago

    Turfing out anachronistic Prime Ministers is good for humanity.

    • Dave Muirhead 5 years ago

      What’s humanity got to do with it?
      We are the problem!

      • Chris Fraser 5 years ago

        From a consumeristic and uncontrolled population growth point of view, there is much to agree with here.Good leadership may be the start of the way back, but hold all bets …

  11. Ian 5 years ago

    Mr Turnbull and Mr Abbot, unfortunately, are two sides to the same coin. Heads coal wins, tails wind and solar lose.

  12. mick 5 years ago

    all this proves is that turnbull is smarter than abbott so what? my dog is too

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  14. Craig Allen 5 years ago

    It’s a good time for Mr Turnbull to upgrade his system, showcasing the latest technology and taking advantage of that big vacant north facing roof space. He’s very keen on battery storage, so he can make a point by installing a big battery system at the same time. One manufactured by an Australian company. While the installers are up there, he then has the perfect opportunity to make a comment to the media about how upbeat he is about renewables.

  15. Dave Muirhead 5 years ago

    Okay,we are or were medical doctors so it’s only natural we ply our pro-conservation and pro-biodiversity messages by focusing on human health and disease as they relate to noxious emissions,rising seas and suchlike.
    But I agree with John Wamsley ,who indicated in The Advertiser a few days ago that he’s rather perplexed as to what became of the once big community push to conserve the remaining ecosystems in Australia,irrespective of this global warming phenomenon,itself very real obviously.
    Global warming’s the perfect scapegoat for politically and financially motivated folk to distract most of us from the sad fact that,even were global warming to disappear overnight,our planetary biodiversity’s going downhill fast and the main driver is population growth

    • nakedChimp 5 years ago

      excessive and unchained capitalism/monopolism is the main driver (economic growth above and at the cost of everything else).. population growth isn’t the problem.

      • Dave Muirhead 5 years ago

        I sense a denial of the fact that human lives are not the core of the planet.I like the term ‘human-centric ideology’.Where is the logic in the concept,discredited by common sense alone,that more of us is a purposeful goal? Why are three thousand persons on an island better than 1000? What is the point?
        Are we worried about a flagging genetic diversity?? I think not!
        One fulfilling life,lived through the appreciation of and dedication to nature’s centrality, and not featuring H.sapiens @ center stage, is worth any number of citified consumers AND any number of vegan, poverty-stricken,barely alive desert dwellers.

        • nakedChimp 5 years ago

          Since when does life have another purposeful goal than to multiply and take advantage of all ecological niches there are, while converting energy?
          You think the goal of life should be to have like 10.000 people on earth living a fulfilled life like god in France? Really?

          Let me put it another way.. if the turbo capitalism that we have now (driven by the hunt for short term profits) wouldn’t be extorting the ecosystem for it’s last piece of yield without any concerns for tomorrow or the week thereafter, then my friend you wouldn’t have to worry about over-population as society would already try to keep things sustainable.
          So again, overpopulation isn’t the root cause, it’s just an indicator/result of things going spectacularly wrong further upstream.

          • Dave Muirhead 5 years ago

            Chicken or egg circuitous debate re population vs capitalism as driver….who cares,bottom line’s same and agree capitalism/myth of economic growth as limitless etc must change and very urgently.
            But as for ‘being one of 10,000 living like god in France’, you are not hearing me,are you?!
            Firstly,and I’m probably pettily taking your use of the word out of context,there is no god (perhaps Mother Nature,if you need spirituality).
            Secondly,France is among the numerous ‘last places I’d wish to live’,even if utopia arrived via instant switch in world-wide economics from growth to 100% sustainable and even if the plague of top-end critters i.e.H.sapiens was reduced to a tiny proportion of the current 7+billion.
            Like essentially all human-populated countries,continents (or parts thereof) and islands of the world,France now is basically a faint remnant shadow or artifice of the original landscape in terms of altered ecology,huge loss of inherent biodiversity but huge (mostly harmful) increase in exotic/feral/introduced biodiversity(the tiny pockets remaining of genuine old-wood forests and grasslands speak to this,having areas too small for most species’ gene pools to have sufficient heterogenicity to survive even the next few centuries).
            Also irrespective of proportions of endemic vs exotic species the total biomass of non-human life (plant+animal) in France would now be a small fraction of the biomass present in the hunter-gatherer phase in our history.(houses,roads,pavement,vineyards, monoculture grain and forestry crops etc now cover 99+% of ‘France’) and the Meditterraean is in large part a marine desert.
            I’m not a Luddite,love my PC,but facts are facts and there’s an unassailable body of scientific evidence that a human largely disconnected from the natural world from early childhood can never be a ‘whole person’,for lack of a better phrase.
            City planners now generally agree that if we must live in cities green space is THE top planning priority( to reduce the load on psychiatric services,as one example,and to limit the obesity epidemic as another).
            I’d like,in this utopia per above,to live right here, in what is said by many to be a disastrously underpopulated landscape:South Australia.
            But the best way for me to do this(and it’s so patently obvious we’ve missed it,in the usual ‘not seeing the wood for the trees’ manner of H.stupidus) is to learn from our few remaining indigenous H.sapiens spokespersons,who despite being(in white settlers’ science parlance) fully-fledged H.sapiens,there being really no genetic disparity planet-wide in our species,managed to live more healthily and sustainably than me for a mere 40-50,000 years.
            By using what’s already here(the most botanically diverse continent,period),and respecting their role as custodians not land owners.

  16. Soozka 5 years ago

    I’m interested in just how solar panels came to be viewed as a security risk. Was Tony afraid of being attacked by the sun?

    • ZathrasSquared 5 years ago

      I cannot upvote this comment enough.

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