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Published on January 21st, 2015 | by James Ayre


More Than 800 MW Of Small-Scale Solar Capacity Installed In Australia In 2014

January 21st, 2015 by  

More than 800 megawatts (MW) of small-scale solar energy capacity was installed in Australia in 2014, according to recent figures released by Green Energy Markets.

Considering the political/legislative environment of the last few years in Australia, with regard to renewables, the numbers are pretty impressive — and just goes to show that the tide of public support is continuing to grow.

Australia solar rooftops via Shutterstock

This 800 MW (816.64 MW to be exact) of new small-scale capacity was split amongst 185,950 different systems — with the average size of these systems being ~4.4 kW.

As alluded to before, these figures are coming to us via the December 2014 monthly report of the renewable certificate trader Green Energy Markets

While the small-scale solar sector saw good numbers, the large-scale photovoltaic (PV) sector in the country remained in a “depressed” state — with the only areas of any significance (with regard to new capacity) being the Australian Capital Territory, which saw 21 MW of new solar; and Western Australia, which saw 11.5 MW of new commercial-scale capacity added.

That’s quite a disparity between that and the 800 MW of new small-scale capacity, isn’t it?

As far as small-scale solar goes, the new capacity was spread fairly evenly amongst the population — 33% of the new capacity is in Queensland, 21% in Victoria, 17% in New South Wales, 13% in South Australia, 12% in Western Australia, and 3% in Tasmania. The Northern Territory and the Capital Territory didn’t contribute much.

Interestingly, a separate — but also recent — report from Green Energy Markets noted that electricity consumption via the National Electricity Market continued to fall notably in 2014, by 1.1% as compared to 2013.

The primary drivers of this were solar PV and improved energy efficiency (responsible for 89%, or 1.877 GWh), according to the report. Much of the rest of the decrease was down to the closure of the Point Henry aluminum smelter.

Despite these developments, Australia’s carbon emissions have continued rising — increasing by 1% in 2014 as compared to 2013.

Image Credit: Australia solar rooftops via Shutterstock

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About the Author

James Ayre's background is predominantly in geopolitics and history, but he has an obsessive interest in pretty much everything. After an early life spent in the Imperial Free City of Dortmund, James followed the river Ruhr to Cofbuokheim, where he attended the University of Astnide. And where he also briefly considered entering the coal mining business. He currently writes for a living, on a broad variety of subjects, ranging from science, to politics, to military history, to renewable energy. You can follow his work on Google+.

  • Ronald Brakels

    Hey hey it’s Saturday and South Australia has just had a negative price event for almost two hours thanks to wind and solar power with rooftop solar providing up to 29% of total electricity use. And according to a source which is currently still in the dodgey category, the single operating coal plant is the state is currently only running one of its two units in the middle of summer, which is pretty impressive. And since there is a negative price event that means it is banked down to 60% of capacity and only producing about 156 megawatts. That’s quite a change from only 3 years ago when we’d expect coal to be generating about 760 megawatts at this time.

  • JdH

    Rooftop solar is going well in Australia. For obvious reasons, since the ‘lucky country’ has sun aplenty. In fact, the winter of 2014 already saw a few hours of negative energy pricing in QLD due to low demand coupled with massive supply from rooftop panels on a sunny winter weekday. The question is whether the current government will ever do its part. All we’ve been seeing recently is solar benefits and carbon taxes being repealed.

  • Ronald Brakels

    Australia simply isn’t going to get much utility scale solar, not with the success of rooftop solar. Australia is also unusual in that rooftop solar is much cheaper per watt than utility scale solar which is the other way around from most countries and with our current Coal-ition government utility scale solar is unlikely to have the opportunity to come down in price. Not that it would be competitive with rooftop solar in any case. The increase in CO2 emissions in Australia in 2014 that was mentioned was primarily due to the destruction of our carbon price, and also to increasing natural gas prices, which has seen a large increase in the amount of coal used for electricity generation. But fortunately, as the article points out, solar capacity keeps expanding. It is up to about 600 megawatts in South Australia. Today the total electricity use it supplied at one time reached a maximum of about 17%, but there are times when rooftop solar provides over a third of total electricity consumption. All up it provides about 6% of the state’s total electricity consumption.

    • RobMF

      Abbott has tried to crush renewables in Au and failed. I think this bodes well for future renewables adoption efforts in other countries. I’m particularly encouraged by the stance of SA’s utility which sees a distributed renewables based grid as the future.

    • juxx0r

      Mate of mine, put 4kW on his roof recently for a cost of $6,000.00. His two monthly power bill dropped by $300-$320. He’s now going to put a timer on his hot water system so it only operates whilst the sun is on the panels.

      He’s pretty happy.

      • CU

        Smart to set the timer so hot water is produced with cheap self-produced PV-power. Apparently many more i Australia and Hawaii etc can and should do that

        • Ronald Brakels

          Well, in Australia, as far as wallets are concerned, since many people have access to offpeak hot water tariffs that are much cheaper than grid electricity used for anything else, whether or not hot water should be used depends on the individual cirumstances and feed-in tariff. As a tactical measure for discouraging coal burning, careful thought might be needed to decide what is best in a particular area.

      • Ronald Brakels

        I feel sorry for Americans paying twice as much for the same thing as us, but they are catching up. I put solar on my parent’s roof towards the end of last year and they’re pretty happy with it too. And it’s pretty much a perfect installation. Excellent panel orientation, and a high insolation location in Queensland. And excellent cloudy weather performance too, largely due to the clouds cooling the panels off and improving efficiency. It produces about one third as much when it is overcast as it does in full sun. Even prouces a trickle of power after sunset. But the moonlight? It does nothing! (And I wouldn’t expect it to.)

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