As Australia is moving towards increased solar power generation, the installed capacity of solar modules has shown considerable growth in the recent years. The use of solar energy for power generation had started way back in 1992 in the country with a few pilot projects and an installed capacity of 7.3 MW. With Australia’s power generation dominated by fossil fuels and a lack of clear solar energy policies and growth framework, the installed capacity could not grow more than 2 to 5 MW per year till 2001. Also, this period saw a growth in hydro and wind power production systems indicating the government’s focus on the other known and technologically available sources of clean energy. Post 2001, the installed capacity addition was in the range of 5 to 12 MW till 2007 on a per year basis. It was only in 2007 when solar power production gained weight and the installed capacity started growing by a larger margin.
Solar power installed capacity has grown at a compound annual rate of more than 80% from 2006 to 2011. The overall growth rate for the 20 year period from 1992 to 2011 is close to 32% compounded annually. This indicates towards the greater boost given in the last five to six years to the solar energy development during which it grew at more than twice the rate of the total growth.
The last couple of years (2010 & 2011) have truly been the solar years for Australia with solar announcing its arrival in a grand manner. More than 1000 MW was added in these two years which has given solar power development the required momentum. This was achieved through a change in policies and a greater shift of focus of the government from other renewable sources to solar energy. The addition of such high installed capacity in the country catapulted its status to the 10th position among the solar countries in the world bringing the newly adopted technology to the fore front.
Solar PV technology is bound to play a larger role in the electricity production sector of Australia which will certainly be augmented by the increasing investments and positively shaping policies. The government is keen on exploiting all its energy sources and solar being one of the most abundant has taken priority over others. The technology is entering its advanced stage and Australia looks set to embrace the solar energy giving it a bigger share in power generation in the coming years.
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