Solar PV installations in Australia Triple From 2017

Solar PV installations in Australia have tripled in the first half of 2018 in comparison to solar uptake in 2017. How will this affect our renewable economy and can we expect this to continue for the rest of the year? Where are all the installs coming from? Let’s take a look. 

Solar PV installations in Australia

Solar PV installations in Australia Triple From 2017 (source: Canberra Times via Green Energy Markets)
Solar PV installations in Australia Triple From 2017 (source: Canberra Times via Green Energy Markets)

The Canberra Times is reporting that household systems are now, on average, around 5 kilowatts. As the technology improves we’ll see this figure rise and (potentially) prices fall. They’ll certainly fall in terms of per watt pricing but the system uptake has resulted in 44% lower feed-in tariffs in New South Wales already – we’ll have to wait and see how this affects the rest of the country. It certainly doesn’t seem to have curbed the ACT’s appetite for solar systems – with the state leading Australia by a huge margin with a 130.8% uptake in installs over Q1+2 in 2018 vs. the same period. 

Green Energy Markets are also predicting that by 2020 renewable energy will represent around 33% (1/3) of Australia’s energy mix – almost double the 17.3% measured in 2015. Ric Brazzale of Green Energy Markets told the Canberra Times they are expecting to see around 30% higher figures by the end of the year:

“If we continue on at the same rate of installations we will end the year at between 1450 MW to 1500 MW – this will be more than 30 per cent higher than the 1100 MW installed last year,” he said.

It’s important to note that the amazing growth commercial solar (i.e. systems which are more than 15kW) has also seen over the last 12 months is heavily reflected in these figures. Over a quarter of June’s solar system demand is due to companies wanting to insure themselves from rapidly rising electricity prices and take control of their bills back by installing a commercial solar system on their premises. 

If you’re interested in reading all the specifics of their report, please click here to download Green Markets’ Renewable Energy Index for May 2018.

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Community Solar in Canberra – Majura Solar Farm

Investors in the Australian Capital Territory have put $3.07 million into Australia’s largest community solar project – which will be built on a vineyard in Canberra. Community solar isn’t a new thing in Australia – but it’s certainly gathering steam (or sunlight) as rising energy prices and rapidly improving solar power technology is encouraging people to invest in renewable energy.

Community Solar – The SolarShare Community Energy Majura Solar Farm

Community Solar - Majura Solar Farm
Community Solar – Majura Solar Farm (source: serree.org.au)

The $3m solar plant is going to be built at the flat land at the bottom of the valley at Mount Majura Vineyard (since wine grapes are best grown on slopes this is currently unused land) and will consist of 5,000 solar panels. The Majura Solar Farm will be built over approximately three hectares and is expected to produce 1.9GWh of electricity per year, which it is planning on selling directly to the ACT government.

Lawrence McIntosh from SolarShare said that, pending approval, they are hoping to have the farm built in 2018.  The ‘SolarShare Community’ applied to sell the energy at a fixed price to the ACT government –  for $200/Mwh ($0.20 / kWh) over a 20 year period. No word on whether this is a bit hopeful but we’ll see (click here for the annual volume weighted average spot prices) how they go, given that this is the largest community owned solar plant in Australia, in terms of output. According to the Canberra Times, the feed-in tariff (FIT) amount is still under consideration. A spokeswoman from the ACT Environment and Planning and Sustainable Development was quoted as saying “The Minister for Climate Change and Sustainability will make the final decision regarding the outcome of the process”.

533 backers are part of the community solar project which comes hot on the heels of private solar investment in Australia growing exponentially over the past few months.

 

 

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