“A Fair Price for Solar” Campaign
Client: Solar Citizens
Solar Citizens is a not-for-profit, independent, community-based organisation that exists to advocate for solar and other clean energy technologies. Originally established in 2013, their headquarters is now based in Brisbane, Australia. They represent the millions of Australians who are already powering their homes with the sun, along with the vast majority of Australians who support clean energy.
In 2016, Solar Citizens commissioned me to design the campaign materials for their “A Fair Price for Solar” campaign, which was a collaboration with Alternative Technology Association, Total Environment Centre, and the Tasmanian Renewable Energy Alliance. You can watch the short video below for a brief explanation by lead campaigner Reece Turner of what the campaign is about.
“…it is daylight robbery, and…the retailers need to pay a fair price for solar.”
The purpose of the campaign was to broadly educate the public about how Australia’s energy system works, make the point that in this system, solar PV owners are being unfairly compensated, and then encourage the public to take action to ask members of parliament to introduce new legislation to help fix the issue.
At the time, when rooftop solar owners sold their excess energy back to the grid, they only received around 6c per kilowatt hour (kWh; national average). But energy retailers would on-sell this same electricity to a neighbour for around 29c per kWh (or up to 48c per kWh in South Australia). That’s nearly five times the amount that solar households get back! Which lead Solar Citizens to claim that it is daylight robbery, and demand that the retailers need to pay a fair price for solar.
“Derek’s home features a large solar PV array on the roof, which contributes a significant amount of energy to the grid, for which he is poorly compensated.”
The primary graphic assets for the campaign were a title graphic and a photo of a solar citizen standing in front of solar panels on a roof. The title graphic was designed to look like a price tag and features the campaign title “A Fair Price for Solar” on it. It is written in the typeface Gotham, which is the typeface used for Solar Citizens’ visual identity. The person pictured is named Derek, and he is a senior man proudly standing in front of his home in Bronte, a Sydney beachside suburb that is just south of Bondi. Derek’s home features a large solar PV array on the roof, which contributes a significant amount of energy to the grid, for which he is poorly compensated. The campaign materials included a series of information graphics, a bifold DL postcard petition, a set of six bifold A4 fact sheets, along with a pull-up banner.
The bifold DL postcard gave a brief overview of the campaign. It also allowed for people to simply cut it in half, write on their contact details, affix a stamp, and put it in the mail, in order to add their name to the petition calling on members of parliament to support a fair price for solar. This enabled Solar Citizens to engage audiences that may not ordinarily be reached by online petitions, and broaden their supporter base.
“These fact sheets additionally provided calculations of what solar energy should be worth, based on it not needing to use the transmission network, and having significantly reduced use of the distribution network, along with its additional health and environmental benefits.”
The set of six bifold A4 fact sheets included four state-based fact sheets, which all gave a breakdown of the components of the energy grid, and outlined the specific costs and prices associated with energy supply in that state. There was also a fifth fact sheet which also did this for the overall nation on average (pictured below). These fact sheets additionally provided calculations of what solar energy should be worth, based on it not needing to use the transmission network, and having significantly reduced use of the distribution network, along with its additional health and environmental benefits. A sixth fact sheet titled “Towers vs Panels: The Case for Rewarding Local Energy Generation” went into further detail, making the case for the increased value of the local energy generation provided by solar PV. The pull-up banner was used by Solar Citizens for presentations they made about the “A Fair Price for Solar” campaign, which explained this analysis in even further detail.
The “A Fair Price for Solar” campaign petition ended up receiving over 12,800 signatures. And with the help of community pressure, it resulted in vocal support from Labor and The Greens, and in the Victorian Government mandating a minimum feed-in tariff. Which, for the first time in Australia, had time-varying rates to encourage solar export at times of peak energy demand.
It was a great pleasure to work on this campaign with the team at Solar Citizens, and aid the goal of clean energy such as solar PV being valued for the benefits it provides, both in terms of better health and environmental benefits of lowering carbon emissions.
Find out more about Solar Citizens: solarcitizens.org.au
Lead Campaigner & Project Manager: Reece Turner, Solar Citizens.
Art Direction & Design: Jarren Nylund, Design Good Design Studio.