More than 23.2 million solar panels are now installed in Australia – a module for every man, woman and child in the nation.
According to solar consultancy firm SunWiz, Australia registered its 1,500,000th solar power system on December 22, 2015. More than 4.65 gigawatts of sub-100kW capacity systems are generating clean electricity across the country and saving their owners a bundle on power rates.
SunWiz states Australia boasts the highest number of installations per capita in the world and the equivalent of 18% of Australian households own a PV system.
“Australia ranked 8th in the world for capacity installed in 2014, and is likely to be a top-10 country for installed capacity in 2015,” says SunWiz.
State-wise, while Queensland has the most solar power systems in the country ( 450,000+), South Australia has the highest proportion of households with PV installed (30%).
Solar PV is now contributing more than 2.5% of Australia’s electricity requirements. While that may not sound like a huge amount, it’s very valuable electricity as solar panels typically produce the most power during periods coincide with high demand. This reduces the need for added mains grid infrastructure and the incidence of higher cost generation from peaking power stations; the cost of which can exceed $13,000 per megawatt-hour ($13 a kilowatt hour).
For 2016, SunWiz predicts the residential solar market will slightly contract, the small and medium commercial solar sector will grow 10-20% and the large-scale commercial segment will also experience significant growth as companies become increasingly aware of how much can be saved on energy costs by going solar.
SunWiz doesn’t expect much in the way of utility scale projects being brought online in Australia this year.
“… the focus will be upon earlier stages of project development, with utility-scale project deployment starting in earnest in 2017 and growing from there.”
The utility scale sector went into limbo during the drawn-out battle over Australia’s Renewable Energy Target; instigated by now ex-Prime Minister, Tony Abbott. After dragging on for eighteen months, the issue was finally settled in June 2015; ensuring sunnier days ahead for the sector.