Solar power in Australia is a growing industry.

As of December 2017, Australia had over 7,024 MW of installed photovoltaic (PV) solar power, of which 1,190 MW were installed in the preceding 12 months.

In 2017, 23 solar PV projects with a combined installed capacity of 2,034 MW were either under construction, constructed or due to start construction having reached financial closure. PV accounted for 2.4% of Australia’s electrical energy production in 2014/15. The installed PV capacity in Australia has increased 10-fold between 2009 and 2011, and quadrupled between 2011 and 2016.

Feed-in tariffs and renewable energy targets designed to assist renewable energy commercialization in Australia have largely been responsible for the rapid increase. In South Australia, a solar feed-in tariff was introduced for households and an educational program that involved installing PVs on the roofs of major public buildings such as the Adelaide Airport, State Parliament, Museum, Art Gallery and several hundred public schools.

In 2008 Premier Mike Rann announced funding for $8 million worth of solar panels on the roof of the new Goyder Pavilion at the Royal Adelaide Showgrounds, the largest rooftop solar installation in Australia, qualifying it for official “power station” status.

 

South Australia has the highest per capita take up of household solar power in Australia.

 

The first commercial-scale PV power plant, the 1 MW Uterne Solar Power Station, was opened in 2011.

The second opened in 2012 at Greenough River Solar Farm with a capacity of 10 MW. The price of photovoltaics has been decreasing, and in January 2013, was less than half the cost of using grid electricity in Australia.

Australia has been internationally criticised for producing very little of its energy from solar power, despite its vast resources, extensive sunshine and overall high potential.

GROWTH POTENTIAL

Solar power in Australia is a growing industry. As of December 2017, Australia had over 7,024 MW of installed photovoltaic (PV) solar power, of which 1,190 MW were installed in the preceding 12 months.

The combination of Australia’s dry climate and latitude give it high benefits and potential for solar energy production. Most of the Australian continent receives in excess of 4 kilowatt-hours (14 MJ) per square metre per day of insolation during winter months, with a region in the north exceeding 6 kilowatt-hours (22 MJ) per square metre per day.

Australia’s insolation greatly exceeds the average values in Europe, Russia, and most of North America. Comparable levels are found in desert areas of northern and southern Africa, south western United States and adjacent area of Mexico, and regions on the Pacific coast of South America. However, the areas of highest insolation are distant to Australia’s population centres.

With an installed photovoltaic capacity of 5,900 MW at the end of 2016, Australia ranks among the world’s top ten solar countries. The installed capacity in 2015 was 5,070 MW.