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.
The last couple of years (2011 & 2012) have truly been the solar years for Australia with solar announcing its arrival in a grand manner. More than 1.6 GW was added in last two years which have 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. Solar PV in Australia is divided into four sub markets namely, Off-grid domestic, off-grid non-domestic, grid-connected distributed and grid-connected centralized. These four sub markets signify the distribution of the installed capacity in the country.
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.
“Australia Solar Power Sector Opportunity Analysis” discusses following key issues related to solar power development in Australia: