Vegetation and solar energy systems
City of Gold Coast encourages households to save energy through cutting back on electricity consumption, choosing green energy alternatives and purchasing energy efficient, environmentally-friendly products. We also have a strong position with regard to vegetation retention, including provisions within the City Plan and Corporate Plan – Gold Coast 2022.
Prior to installing a solar energy system, homeowners should consider existing vegetation overshadowing. If overshadowing is a concern, contact a Clean Energy Council accredited solar energy installer to determine if there are alternative locations for the system, or if the overshadowing will significantly affect efficiency and energy supply.
Permission to remove existing vegetation on the basis of it overshadowing new solar energy systems is unlikely to be provided.
Prior to undertaking vegetation clearing works, landowners are advised to review any state and federal government vegetation clearing requirements.
Benefits of retaining vegetation
Vegetation, whether existing or planted, provides multiple benefits including shading and cooling of domestic dwellings. In many instances, retaining the vegetation around your dwelling can significantly reduce your energy costs.
Retaining vegetation can:
- reduce summer temperatures indoors
- reduce the amount of sunlight entering your dwelling through windows
- decrease energy requirements for cooling by up to 40 per cent
- improve property value
- reduce surface runoff and erosion
- provide habitat, refuge and connectivity for native wildlife
- protect your dwelling from the elements
- reduce wind speed to prevent heat loss
- improve air quality
- keep urban temperatures down (known as the urban heat island effect).
Tips for solar energy system installation
Solar energy systems are a sustainable way for residents to reduce their carbon footprint and increase energy independence.
However, not every dwelling is suitable for a solar energy system. Where a dwelling is overshadowed by adjacent buildings or vegetation, energy output from a solar system may be impacted.
Solar energy systems may still operate in the presence of overshadowing vegetation however the system may not achieve 100 per cent efficiency all year round.
Prior to installing a solar energy system, homeowners need to determine whether the proposed location may be significantly affected by vegetation overshadowing. Roof orientation, pitch and structure can be evaluated by the system designer to ensure it is suitable.
Where vegetation overshadows all or part of a dwelling, limiting solar access, the system typically needs to be located outside the overshadowed area for maximum efficiency.
Choosing a site with appropriate location and pitch ensures the system will operate effectively.
As part of a system evaluation, completing a sun path diagram can help identify suitable roof locations for solar energy system installation. These diagrams can be used to plot the area on the roof that receives the most solar energy, or that otherwise meet the requirements identified within the energy audit. These areas will be in locations where the least overshadowing occurs (or will occur over time).
Undertaking an energy audit and evaluation prior to or during the system design ensures the following factors are considered:
- energy consumption of the dwelling
- current electricity tariffs
- how tariffs may change post installation
- costs of installation
- cost of structural reinforcements
- maintenance costs
- opportunities for energy efficiency gains.
If overshadowing is a concern, contact a Clean Energy Council accredited solar energy installer to determine if there are alternative locations to site the system, or if overshadowing will affect energy supply significantly.
Should overshadowing continue to be a problem, contact us to discuss your options with a development assessment arborist prior to installing any solar energy systems.
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