Clean Power Australian Solar Costs Drop Dramatically

Published on January 10th, 2014 | by Giles Parkinson

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Australia Reaches 2 Million Small-Scale Solar Installations

January 10th, 2014 by  

Originally published on RenewEconomy

Clean Energy Regulator says Australia now has 2 million small scale renewable energy systems – enough to power Perth, Hobart, Darwin and Canberra.

Australia has now installed more than 2 million small scale renewable energy systems – reaching the target just eight months after the country achieved its first one million rooftop solar systems.

The announcement came from the Clean Energy Regulator, which manages Australia’s renewable energy target. The total is made up of 1.83 million small scale solar systems (both rooftop PV and solar hot water, and 173,000 air source heat pumps – see graph below).

Screen-Shot-2014-01-09-at-10.22.52-am

The CER said the data underlines the fact that investment in small-scale renewable energy continues to flourish in Australia. Nearly all subsidies have been removed for small scale installations, although rooftop solar and other systems still benefit from renewable energy certificates.

“Assisted by falling system costs coupled with financial incentives derived from the Renewable Energy Target, small-scale systems have become more and more affordable for everyday Australians,” the CER said in a statement on Thursday.

It is estimated that solar PV costs have fallen by more than 70 per cent in recent years, and Australia was the first of many countries that reached retail or “socket parity” – where the cost of electricity generated by rooftop solar is cheaper than that sourced from the grid.

The CER says the two million small-scale installations have a capacity to generate or displace approximately 6,882 gigawatt hours of electricity annually, with 4,182 gigawatt hours generated from small-scale solar, wind and hydro installations and a further 2,700 gigawatt hours displaced by solar hot water systems and air source heat pumps.

It says this equates to the amount of electricity required to power approximately 1.04 million Australian homes for a year. This is enough to power all Perth, Hobart, Darwin and Canberra households combined.

As a point of comparison, the combined output of small scale installations in Australia is more than the combined output in the last financial year of the base-load capacity of Origin Energy – Australia’s largest utility.

The 2,600MW Eraring coal fired power station, and the 600MW Darling Downs gas-fired power station put out a combined 13,539GWh in 2012/13, both operating at around half their capacity.

Indeed, it is estimated that while Australia has more than 3GW of installed rooftop solar capacity, a similar amount of coal-fired generation has been either closed, mothballed, or put on standby as a result of reduced demand for centralized generation. 
 
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About the Author

is the founding editor of RenewEconomy.com.au, an Australian-based website that provides news and analysis on cleantech, carbon, and climate issues. Giles is based in Sydney and is watching the (slow, but quickening) transformation of Australia's energy grid with great interest.



  • Martin Lindh

    Please change the title, it is inaccurate. Just remove “solar” and it will be fine.

    Australia only has about 23 million inhabitants. 2 million installatins is a big number!.

    • Ronald Brakels

      Yes, there are a few things lumped in there that don’t fit under the rubric solar, but there’s still about 1.8 million solar systems in Australia if you include solar hot water heaters. Not a bad effort.

  • Ross

    Brilliant news and no end to the gains for renewables in sight. Every building with a roof or supporting surface should get panels.

  • Assmaa Almaairgy

    AUS Has made a lot of progress here , installing these massive numbers of solar panels would be very economic also keep the atmosphere clean ..

  • Matt

    I think a big reason why Aus has seen the fast growth of “small” systems is the no permit needed if you follow 6 simple rules policy. If I want I can call up a installer and if they are available, they can start installing the next day/week.

    • Ronald Brakels

      Yep, although people can still run into trouble with local Councils, it is for most people so much easier than in the US.

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