Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Can Australia become one of global solar energy leaders?

At the end of 2011 Australia had close to 1050 MW of totally installed photovoltaic capacity, enough to satisfy 2.3% of country's total electricity demand.  In the last three years solar power capacity increased 10 fold, primarily due to favorable feed-in-tariffs and mandatory renewable energy targets. However, there is still plenty of room for further improvement.

A 2001 federal study showed that Australia had the highest average solar radiation of any continent. Australia's insolation heavily exceeds the average values in Europe, Russia, and most of North America meaning that solar energy is certainly the best renewable energy option for the country.

Harnessing more solar energy could significantly reduce Australia's heavy dependence on coal. However, in order for solar energy to compete with coal solar power technologies will have to continue to decrease in prices, especially since coal is still the cheapest available energy option. Australia has plenty of cheap coal and powerful coal lobbies, and this will not make things easy for domestic solar energy industry.

The government has finally started making steps in the right direction, mostly in form of favorable feed-in-tariffs that were introduced in much of the Australia.  Australian renewable energy standard is mandatory and under it renewable energy should account for 20% share of electricity generation in Australia by 2020. It is expected that solar power will play huge role in achieving this goal.

Australia - Dry climate with plenty of sunshine throughout the year

When talking about solar energy projects in Australia then the special mention goes to proposed 154 MW solar power station in Victoria that once constructed is expected to be one of the biggest and most efficient solar photovoltaic power station in the world. Full commissioning is expected in 2013.

There is also very strong public support for renewable energy projects that could in combination with consistent national energy policy lead to rapid growth of Australian solar power industry. 

Solar energy is Australia's best ticket to enter clean energy race. The rapid progress of Australian solar energy industry in the last three years is clear indicator that solar could be the energy source that will lead Australia to clean energy future. 

The combination of mandatory renewable energy standard and favorable feed-in-tariffs has attracted investments and this is the reason why solar energy industry is now the fastest growing industry in the country.

The foundation has been laid now it's up to government to continue good work in order to confirm Australia as one of the global solar energy leaders.