Solar energy in Australia: it's heating up

20 April 2015

At the end of 2014, about 1.38 million small-scale solar power systems were installed across the country.1 A lot of this activity has occurred quite recently, with Australians installing around 176,000 solar PV systems in 2014!2

And we’re not alone. Over the past 15 years, solar energy has grown at a rate of about 20 percent a year worldwide.3

The Gobal New Energy Development Report 2014 identifies China as the world’s largest solar PV market, taking over the top spot from Germany. Of the 38.7 GW of new solar PV capacity installed worldwide in 2013, 12 GW was installed in China, representing a huge 232 percent increase from the previous year.4

In the US, the Huffington Post recently reported that “residential electricity produced by solar in the first quarter of 2013 was almost 10 times higher than that generated in 2008, according to the Solar Energy Industries Association. But the potential for more is huge.

 

So what's driving the interest in solar?

 

Zero carbon emissions

Solar energy produces zero carbon emissions when generating power, so it's a key player in addressing climate change. 

It's a renewable energy source

Sunlight is a renewable resource, which means we can't run out of it. But until battery storage becomes more practical, solar energy and other intermittant renewable energy sources still need to be backed up by more traditional power sources, such as natural gas. 

Increasingly cost effective

In the 2013 Australian Energy Technology Assessment update, the Bureau of Resources and Energy Economics reported that the cost of solar technologies is declining, in some cases by up to 30 percent compared to the previous year. It's estimated that solar power will be amoung the cheapest of all energy sources by 2020.6

Added to these benefits is the fact that the sun shines brightly in Australia. We have the highest solar radiation per square metre of any continent in the world, and as a result we boast some of the best solar energy resources in the world, especially in our desert regions.7

That’s a lot of potential right outside our windows.


The cost of solar technologies is declining, in some cases by up to 30 percent compared to the previous year.8


 

What's next for solar in Australia?

 

The Australian Solar Council recently reported on a few major solar projects, including the massive 70 MW solar farm in Moree, Queensland, which is now underway. The Moree Solar Farm features single-axis tracking technology, which will enable it to save almost 95,000 tonnes of carbon pollution annually. 

The new 1.06 MW system being installed at the Brisbane Markets in Queensland will be Australia's largest privately owned rooftop solar PV system and a major push forward for the commercial solar sector in Australia.9

The Australian Renewable Energy Agency (ARENA) has a long list of other solar projects going on in Australia right now. You can check it out here

Here at Origin, we’re preparing to build one of the largest rooftop solar PV systems in Australia by installing 25,000 square metres of solar on the roof of the former Mitsubishi main assembly building in Tonsley, Adelaide.

We’re also providing a new way for households to install solar on their roof, with the introduction of Solar as a Service. This innovative approach to solar means that instead of you, the householder, purchasing the solar system, we will own, install and maintain the rooftop solar system. Solar as a Service is only offered in certain areas and is subject to certain eligibility requirements.

This arrangement means that you have no upfront costs and are able to just buy the electricity your system generates at a lower rate as compared to the grid. 

And if you’re interested in becoming one of the millions of Australian’s investing in solar for your home or business, take a look here at our solar options and see what system is right for you.

  1. Clean Energy Council 2014, Renewable energy certificate registry, Clean Energy Council.
  2. Clean Energy Council 2014, Renewable energy certificate registry, Clean Energy Council.
  3. National Geographic 2013, Solar energy, National Geographic Society.
  4. Renew Economy 2015, China now the world’s largest solar PV market, Renew Economy. 
  5. Huffington Post 2015, Solar power in the US becoming a more popular, cost-saving option for homeowners, posted August 2013, Huffington post.
  6. Department of Industry and Science, Australian Energy Technology Assessment 2013 Model update.
  7. Geoscience Australia 2015, Solar energy, Geoscience Australia. 
  8. Department of Industry and Science, Australian Energy Technology Assessment 2013 Model update.
  9. Australian Solar Council 2015, Solar progress, Issue 4, December 2014, Australian Solar Council.