Solar power in Australia
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 commercialisation 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.
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.
The Solar Homes and Communities Plan was a rebate provided by the Australian Government of up to A$8,000 for installing solar panels on homes and community use buildings (other than schools). This rebate was phased out on 8 June 2009, to be replaced by the Solar Credits Program, where an installation of a solar system would receive 5 times as many Renewable Energy Certificates for the first 1.5 kilowatts of capacity under the Renewable Energy Target (see below).
Schools were eligible to apply for grants of up to A$50,000 to install 2 kW solar panels and other measures through the National Solar Schools Program beginning on 1 July 2008, which replaced the Green Vouchers for Schools program. Applications for the program ended 21 November 2012. A total of 2,870 schools have installed solar panels. The output of each array can be viewed, and compared with that of up to four other schools.
A number of states have set up schemes to encourage the uptake of solar PV power generation involving households installing solar panels and selling excess electricity to electricity retailers to put into the electricity grid, widely called "feed-in". Each scheme involves the setting of feed in tariffs, which can be classified by a number of factors including the price paid, whether it is on a net or gross export basis, the length of time payments are guaranteed, the maximum size of installation allowed and the type of customer allowed to participate. Many Australian state feed-in tariffs were net export tariffs, whereas conservation groups argued for gross feed-in tariffs. In March 2009, the Australian Capital Territory (ACT) started a solar gross feed-in tariff. For systems up to 10 kW the payment was 50.05 cents per kWh. For systems from 10 kW to 30 kW the payment was 40.04 cents per kWh. The payment was revised downward once before an overall capacity cap was reached and the scheme closed. Payments are made quarterly based on energy generated and the payment rate is guaranteed for 20 years. In Germany, a guaranteed PV tariff means that (as of 2006) Germany now has the highest PV capacity per capita – at 10 W for every person in Germany compared to Australia at 2.6 W per capita.
Renewable energy targetsEdit
In 2001, the Australian government introduced a mandatory renewable energy target (MRET) designed to ensure renewable energy achieves a 20% share of electricity supply in Australia by 2020. The MRET was to increase new generation from 9,500 gigawatt-hours to 45,000 gigawatt-hours by 2020. The MRET requires wholesale purchasers of electricity (such as electricity retailers or industrial operations) to purchase renewable energy certificates (RECs), created through the generation of electricity from renewable sources, including wind, hydro, landfill gas and geothermal, as well as solar PV and solar thermal. The objective is to provide a stimulus and additional revenue for these technologies. The scheme was proposed to continue until 2030.
The Solar Flagships program sets aside $1.6 billion for solar power over six years. The government funding is for 4 new solar plants that produce coal plant scale power (in total up to 1000 MW - coal plants typically produce 500 to 2,000 MW). This subsidy would need additional funding from the plant builders and/or operators. As a comparison Abengoa Solar, a company currently constructing solar thermal plants, put the cost of a 300 MW plant at €1.2 billion in 2007. In 2009, the Arizona state government announced a 200 MW plant for US$1 billion.
List of largest projectsEdit
Projects with a power rating less than 10 MW are not listed.
|NSW||Nyngan Solar Plant||102||2015 June||Bogan Shire||AGL Energy||CdTe thin-film technology. At the time of its construction, it was the largest solar PV plant in the Southern Hemisphere. Capacity: 102 MWAC.|
|NSW||Moree Solar Farm||56||2016 March||Moree Plains Shire||Fotowatio Renewable Ventures (FRV)||Photovoltaic, single axis tracking.|
|NSW||Broken Hill Solar Plant||53||2014 July||Broken Hill||AGL Energy||CdTe thin-film technology. Capacity given in AC (53 MWAC).|
|QLD||Kidston 1||50||2017 November||Genex||CdTe thin-film technology Single axis tracker.|
|VIC||Gannawarra Solar Farm||50||2018 March||Gannawarra||Wirsol and Edify Energy||Photovoltaic, single axis tracking.|
|QLD||Barcaldine Solar Farm Stage 1||25||2017 January||Barcaldine||Elecnor Australia||Photovoltaic, single axis tracking|
|ACT||Royalla Solar Farm||20||2014 September||Canberra||Fotowatio Renewable Ventures (FRV)||Photovoltaic|
|QLD||Hughenden Solar Farm||20||2017 October||Hughenden||Lighthouse Solar||Photovoltaic, single axis tracking|
|WA||Emu Downs Solar Farm||20||2018 March||Dandaragan||APA Group||Photovoltaic, single axis tracking|
|QLD||Valdora Solar Farm||15||2017 July||Sunshine Coast||Sunshine Coast Regional Council and Downer Utilities Australia||Photovoltaic|
|ACT||Mugga Lane Solar Park||13||2017 March||Canberra||Maoneng Group||Photovoltaic|
|QLD||Lakeland Solar Project||13||2018 February||Lakeland||Conergy||Photovoltaic|
|ACT||Williamsdale Solar Farm||11||2017 October||Canberra||Impact Investment Group||Photovoltaic, single axis tracking.|
|NSW||Gullen Range Solar Farm||10||2017 October||Bannister||Goldwind||Photovoltaic|
|WA||Greenough River Solar Farm||10||2012 October||City of Greater Geraldton||Verve Energy and GE Financial Services||CdTe thin-film technology. Photovoltaic|
|WA||Degrussa Solar Power Project||10||2016 June||Doolgunna||Sandfire Resources NL, juwi Renewable Energy||Photovoltaic, single axis tracking.|
Australian Capital TerritoryEdit
A new 20 MWp solar power plant has been built on 50 hectares of land in Royalla, a rural part of the Australian Capital Territory south of Canberra. It is powered by 83,000 solar panels, and can power 4,400 homes. It was officially opened on 3 September 2014. It is the first solar plant facility in the Australian capital, and at the time of building the largest such plant in Australia. The facility was built by a Spanish company, Fotowatio Renewable Ventures (FRV).
The solar power stations at these three remote indigenous communities in Australia's Northern Territory are constructed using Solar Systems' CS500 concentrator dish systems. The project cost A$7M, offset by a grant from the Australian and Northern Territory Governments under their Renewable Remote Power Generation Program.
The project won a prestigious Engineering Excellence award in 2005.
The Federal Government has funded over 120 innovative small-scale standalone solar systems in remote indigenous communities, designed by Bushlight, incorporating sophisticated demand side management systems with user-friendly interfaces.
A 50 MW solar PV plant has been built on the site of the Kidston Gold mine. This is phase 1 of a planned solar energy and pumped storage combination.
The largest rooftop solar PV array in South Australia was installed in 2017 at Yalumba Wine Company across three Barossa locations. Total generating capacity is 1.39 MW generating approximately 2,000 MWh per annum. Previously the largest installation was at Adelaide airport, with a generating capacity of 1.17 MW. Sundrop Farms concentrated solar power plant has a generating capacity of 40 MW, and is the first of its kind to be commissioned in the state. Both projects were completed in 2016. A floating array of solar PV panels is in place at Jamestown wastewater treatment plant, with a generating capacity of 3.5 MW.
On November 29 2017 the state government announced a new round of finance for renewable energy projects which included a Planet Arc Power - Schneider Electric development of a $13.9m solar PV and battery project at a major distribution centre in Adelaide’s North. The project includes a micro-grid management system optimising 5.7MW of solar PV coupled with 2.9MWh of battery storage. UniSA will develop 1.8MW of ground and roof mounted solar PV at their Mawson Lakes campus. At the Heathgate Resources Beverley mine there are plans for a relocatable 1MW of solar PV paired with a 1MW/0.5MWh battery which will be integrated with an existing on-site gas power plant.
The Aurora Solar Thermal Power Project and Bungala Solar Power Project are also proposed for near Port Augusta, both on the north side of the town. Auroroa has a contract to supply electricity to state government offices when it is completed in 2020. Bungala is under construction and has a contract to provide electricity to Origin Energy. Riverland Solar Storage has development approval to establish a photovoltaic solar power farm near Morgan. The developer expects it to begin operations in late 2018.
The 100 MW PV Mildura Solar Concentrator Power Station, formerly expected to be completed in 2017, is now cancelled. It was expected to be the biggest and most efficient solar photovoltaic power station in the world. The power station was expected to concentrate the sun by 500 times onto the solar cells for ultra high power output. The Victorian power station would have generated electricity directly from the sun to meet the annual needs of over 45,000 homes with on-going zero greenhouse gas emissions.
The Gannawarra Solar Farm is a 60.0 MW DC single-axis tracking project located west of Kerang in north-west Victoria. It is the first large-scale solar farm to be constructed in Victoria.
Western Australia's first major large scale solar farm, the Greenough River Solar farm, is at Walkaway, 70 km SE of Geraldton. It was opened in October 2012. The 10MW field has 150,000 solar panels. The 20 MW Emu Downs solar farm became the largest solar farm in WA when opened in March 2018. Emu Downs solar farm is co-located with the Emu Downs Wind Farm.
Solar cities programEdit
Solar Cities is a demonstration program designed to promote solar power, smart meters, and energy conservation in urban locations throughout Australia. One such location is Townsville, Queensland.
Renewable Energy Master Plan 2030Edit
The Council of Sydney is attempting to make the city run 100% on renewable energy by 2030. This plan was announced earlier in 2014 with the blueprints made public on their website. This ambitious plan was recently awarded the 2014 Eurosolar prize in the category of "Towns/municipalities, council districts and public utilities".
- Renewable energy in Australia
- Wind power in Australia
- Geothermal power in Australia
- Biofuel in Australia
- Andrew Blakers
- Building-integrated photovoltaics
- Centre for Appropriate Technology (Australia)
- List of countries by electricity production from renewable sources
- Martin Green
- Photovoltaic and renewable energy engineering in Australia
- Renewable energy by country
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