Australia Solar PV To Hit 23 GW By 2030, Rooftop Solar Leading The Way

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Originally published on Renew Economy.
By Sophie Vorrath & Giles Parkinson 

Rooftop solar is an unstoppable force in the Australian market that will drive the nation’s total installed solar capacity well past 20 gigawatts, regardless of any attempts by the incumbent utilities to thwart its development, Bloomberg New Energy Finance says.

Kobad Bhavnagri, head of BNEF in Australia, told the 2014 Solar Conference and Expo in Melbourne on Thursday that BNEF expected around 23GW of large, commercial and residential solar PV to be installed in Australia by 2030.

But while the rollout of large-scale solar would be vulnerable to policy changes, such as any winding back of the Large-scale Renewable Energy Target, Bhavnagri said modelling on small-scale PV was “fundamentally sound and really quite unstoppable.”

Bhavnagri said Australia was likely to have 5 million installed commercial and residential PV systems by 2030, with 16GW in cumulative net additions between now and 2030. Australia currently has 1.2 million systems and total capacity of 3.1GW.

bnef solar capacity

“The behind the meter PV market will vary in size at around 900GW market per year,” Bhavnagri said, and different policy measures introduced to put the breaks on rooftop solar, won’t have much of an impact on that either way, he added, because they “don’t fundamentally damage the consumer proposition, which is very strong and very good.”

The graph below illustrates how strong the market will be, even if the utilities and regulators play around with feed in tariffs, connection fees, and even self consumption charges of the type introduced in Spain and Germany.

bnef scenario

On the large-scale solar front, BNEF is forecasting that, under the current LRET, solar and wind would each take around half of capacity, with the financing terms for large-scale PV improving steadily as financiers became more comfortable with the technology – a confidence boosted by the due diligence completed by the ACT government’s reverse auction program and two federal agencies – the Clean Energy Finance Corporation and the Australian Renewable Energy Agency that are threatened with defunding or closure.

If the RET generation target was diluted, the share of wind would start to fall, and large-scale solar would contribute up to two thirds of the capacity mix. This graph below illustrates the point, the base case is if the target is left untouched, the second if the target is diluted, and the third if it is simply deferred. Wind has much more at stake from policy changes.

bnef solar wind

If the LRET was pushed out to 2025, a delay many predict the Abbott government will introduce as a result of its current RET Review process, BNEF predicts there will be even more large-scale solar in the mix, given more time for the solar advantage to grow.

BNEF says that the price of large scale certificates for a solar plant in Queensland would need only to around $23/MWh for them to be viable, whereas wind projects in NSW might need prices of more than $40/MWh. This echoes the conclusions of our report earlier this week that the current market may be as good as it gets for wind energy in Australia.

The Queensland market, one of the few states where BNEF expects electricity load to grow – particularly at peaks times – plays into the hands of solar nicely, said Bhavnagri.

“We expect some large-scale solar PV to built from 2020-2030 to help meet Australia’s rising demand at summertime” – a jump in peak demand that will be driven by increasing uptake of air conditioners.

Overall, BNEF says that renewable energy may account for 49 per cent of total capacity in Australia by 2030, and about 33 per cent by generation.

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Giles Parkinson

is the founding editor of, 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.

Giles Parkinson has 596 posts and counting. See all posts by Giles Parkinson

6 thoughts on “Australia Solar PV To Hit 23 GW By 2030, Rooftop Solar Leading The Way

  • And maybe they are even pessimistic in their outlook. Did they factor in the prospect of affordable storage?

    • It doesn’t look like they have accounted for low cost energy storage, which will make rooftop solar even more of a must have than it already is, but including that would make things more complicated. One thing I can’t see happening is much utility scale solar being built as daytime electricity prices will be quite low as a result of rooftop solar which still makes economic sense even if the daytime cost of electricity is zero. You can see that in the “FiTs withdrawn” columns where even if people get the electricity they supply to the grid completely stolen from them it has little effect on the installation of rooftop solar.

      I don’t know how accurate this forecast is, but I am certain that rooftop solar will continue to expand rapidly here in Australia, and with home energy storage at about the breakeven point, things may turn out considerably better than this forecast.

      • How long did it take to get most of the 1.2 million roofs to get solar? Say 1 million 5 years? It will probably be atleast 1.5 million in the next 5 and 2 milion in the 5 years after that, with out storage, now at storage, conservatively speaking, in 2025 to 2030 you can atleast at 3 million.
        1.2 + 1.5 + 2 + 3 = 7.7 million roofs by 2030. Storage will be price compatetive a lot sooner then 2025 and the greater the price difference between cheap solar and expensive utillity electricity, the faster people will go solar.
        I think atleast 8 to 10 million roofs is a very save bet.

  • I am interested in electricity prices in Australia. Can anyone give me a few examples with grid costs and electricity being separate.
    In Alberta, I have two different providers at wideley separated residential properties.
    Rates were .071 and .068 per KWH
    Grid and taxes cost about 44.00 and 75.00. the higher relecting higher usage The first rate was with practically no electricity delivered.

    • I just looked at Origin Energy (one of the largest energy companies in Australia) for two locations.

      Postcode 2000 is the centre of Sydney, you are looking at 78c per day access charge and 30c kWh.

      Postcode 2340 (Tamworth, regional city of around 40,000 people), access charge is 137c per day and 34c kWh…obviously that is rough, depending on plans type of meter etc those numbers change, but that is your basic everyday access with a single meter.

      • That is expensive. It is not much wonder that rooftop is popular there. Thanks for the info. It sounds as if that is privatized, much as it is here. I wonder why the large difference in cost. Not enough competition, perhaps.

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