Clean Power australia solar potential

Published on November 13th, 2012 | by Jake Richardson


2,000 MW Of Solar Reached In Australia

November 13th, 2012 by  

Declining PV prices, incentives, and the fear of losing incentives have caused a surge in solar installations in Australia. The result has been that the country has reached 2,000 MW of installed solar PV.

australia solar potential

Australia solar roofs via Shutterstock

In July, there were about 1,700 MW of solar PV on an estimated 750,000 homes. This figure was about 10% of the total number of homes in the country. Currently, however, Australia’s main power source is still coal. Queensland and NSW are two of the areas with the most solar PV.

(For the sake of comparison, note that Germany installed 1,000 MW of solar in just September of 2012!)

As indicated by this long write-up on CleanTechnica awhile back, the way forward in Australia is not entirely clear: “Those on the inside of the PV industry can smell economic parity; we can see it and taste it in many parts of the world, including Australia’s retail market and we know how fast it is going to accelerate. It won’t come without bumps and wobbles and it isn’t a silver bullet. But it is grossly underestimated and with their own confirmation bias I suspect the deniers are failing to open up to what’s really going on around them.”

Australia’s solar power future is likely to be very bright, with 15 GW of concentrated solar power potential alone.

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  • Ronald Brak

    And it’s just recently been announced that assistance to households to install rooftop solar has been cut six months early increasing the cost of an installation by maybe $700-$800. You know, now that solar is doing its job of cutting carbon emissions, some people aren’t very happy about it.

  • Ronald Brak

    While I’m glad solar PV is expanding rapidly in Australia, I will mention that the Czech Republic which has less sunshine and less than half the population of Australia had 2 gigawatts of solar installed almost two years ago. We’re just catching up to them and we’re less than halfway there on a per capita basis.

  • Gary

    How long before PV + short-term storage becomes competitive with retail prices?

    • Ronald Brak

      I think for most Australians now new solar only has a feed in tariff of 8 cents a kilowatt-hour or not even that. This leaves a gap of about 17 cents between what they can sell electricity for and what they pay for it. Currently electric car battery packs can store energy for around this much for stationary purposes, although this doesn’t include the cost of installing them, so we’re almost there now. Maybe in a few years it will pay to buy a couple of kilowatt-hours of storage to go along with a PV system. Sooner if you listen to some people, later according to others. What may pay for itself now is home heat storage and air conditioner cold storage.

  • Ronald Brak

    By the way, I will mention that because our rooftop solar systems don’t all point north at an optimum angle, even with clear skies over all Australia we’d only produce about 80% of 2 gigwatts. So the 2 gigawatts is how many gigawatts of panels have been installed, but is not the actual capacity. But it’s still a significant amount. Depending on the weather, the city where I live can currently get over 15% of its total electricity use from solar in the middle of the day.

  • tibor strausz

    interesting! it will lead to many more solarroofs and will have a side effect that energie will get cheaper for all. you see it in germany.

    is this a problemen? off course not, it will boost the economie, keep inflation down and as a super bonus will make the air nice and help the environment.

    • Ronald Brak

      Yep. It’s helped us shutdown gigawatts of coal capacity, our gas plants are running below expected capacity, and plans for new gas capacity have been shelved.

  • Ronald Brak

    Point of use solar is currently the cheapest source of electricity available to Australian households. The price of a residential installation is now down to about $2 a watt. Most people who install solar own a roof, which means they can usually borrow money for around 6 or 7%. This means that for most Australians solar electricity costs around 10 or 11 cents a kilowatt-hour. This is less than half the cost of grid electricity which is about 25 cents a kilowatt-hour. Obviously this is a good deal and so solar is really taking off here and I don’t see its expansion stopping any time soon, despite major cuts in feed in tariffs.

  • RobS

    Our installed out of pocket costs are now consistently below $2/watt and commonly below $1.50/watt and our electric retail rates are ~27c/Kwh. We are so far past parity it’s funny.

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