Australia’s 2016 cumulative solar PV installations nearly reached 6 gigawatts and surpassed the milestone in the first quarter of 2017, keeping the country on track to install between 10 and 12 gigawatts by 2020, according to a new report published by the Australian PV Institute.
Late last month, the Australian PV Institute (APVI) published a new report for the International Energy Agency (IEA), outlining Australia’s strong solar PV growth in 2016, and its predictions through to 2020. The annual report to the IEA highlighted that Australia capacity reached 5.8 GW (gigawatts) in 2016, and is currently on track to increase cumulative capacity to 10 to 12 GW by 2020.
Further, the APVI report shows that Australia’s solar energy industry currently meets 3.3% of the country’s electricity’s demand, and accounts for 11% of national electricity generation capacity, while 100% of new electricity generating capacity installed in Australia in 2016 was from renewables.
Total Installed Capacity (MW/megawatts)
2016 saw a slight contraction in annual installs, following an activity spike for the utility-scale solar sector in 2015. Rooftop solar installations remained the leading market segment in 2016, with over 540 MW worth of solar installed on over 120,000 households. Further, “significant growth” was reported in the commercial solar segment in the 30-100kW size range, and a growing volume in the industrial segment systems in the 101-5,000 kW range.
Annual PV Installations by Sector (MW)
2016 was not a great year for utility-scale solar installations in Australia, but the current pipeline looks likely to see 2017 utility-scale deployment increase significantly, and as much as 2.3 GW of utility-scale installations between 2017 and 2020.
Australia’s solar industry is now valued at $2.1 billion ($1.6 billion USD), and created 7,210 direct jobs — not bad, in a country that now has over 1.6 million PV installations.