Reportedly, “Australia installed more solar power in the under-10 kW system size than Germany did in 2011.” This is rather surprising. Everyone knows German solar power, especially rooftop solar, expanded greatly in 2011. But who’s talking about Australia?
Of course, Australia’s total 837 MW of newly installed solar in 2011 doesn’t compare with Germany’s 7,481 MW. Apparently, Australia hasn’t offered much support for utility-scale solar yet, but small-scale solar is in high demand. 815 MW of Australia’s PV installations were less than 100 kW in size and 96% of these — 804 MW — were from solar systems smaller than 10 kW in size. This barely beats Germany’s 759 MW. Similarly, in 2010, Australia beat Germany in the number of installations at this size, but not quite in MW installed.
“On the strength of its residential sector, Australia ranked 8th in capacity installed in 2010, and ranked 7th in 2011, highly respectable for a nation of its size,” Warwick Johnston of Australia writes on Renewable Energy World. “These figures mean Australia could easily be the world’s largest market for residential PV.”
While Australia lags on commercial- and utility-scale solar, its residential-scale solar success has led it to some important cost reductions and “socket parity” about as fast as anyone.
“As Bloomberg New Energy Finance showed, Australia is one of the first countries to have reached residential ‘socket parity’; ahead of much of the world. Australia has also showed that in spite of massive cuts to government support, residential solar can survive without premium feed-in tariffs when solar power is primarily used on-site. With ‘socket parity’ reached for small businesses, and tantalisingly close for large business, Australia’s commercial market is set to grow organically, free from the distortions of solar-specific government incentives.”
Exciting stuff. Goes to show you, even just promoting residential solar power adoption can quickly drive down costs and make solar power cost competitive in an unfair market where the health and environmental externalities of fossil fuels still aren’t taken into account.
My guess is that getting solar on a lot of residential roofs will also increase political support for solar, in general….
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