Wind power has also gained ground in the country as its cost has fallen
For the past years, Australia has largely relied on its coal reserves to generate electricity, despite the fact that Oceania has the highest average solar radiation per m2 of any continent in the world. But at last, solar energy in the country is beginning to gain ground and the figures show that from 73 MW in 2007, it has increased to 5,632 MW in 2016. Last year, seven large-scale solar farms were built around the country, while one more that will be the world’s biggest in terms of energy output, is expected to be ready by the end of 2017.
The transition from coal to solar
Coal industry has long been one of the country's largest industries, but it seems it was only a matter of time before the solar sector became a serious player and increasingly competitive to carbon. "Falling costs, [along with] the learning effect from building the first few large projects in Australia and hence lower financing costs, have all contributed to the rapid shift to large-scale solar," says Evan Franklin from the Research School of Engineering at the Australian National University. "Wholesale energy prices are on the rise. This, combined with a lack of certainty around investments in other power generation technology, has resulted in further incentive to invest in solar generation", he added. The new renewable energy targets have also contributed to the push for solar power according to the Clean Energy Council spokesperson Mark Bretherton, who said that "the cost of generating large-scale solar is now less than half what it was just a couple of years ago - and is now close to the cost of the cheapest wind power projects."
Rooftop PV panels remain popular among consumers
Over the past decade, the cost of installing rooftop PV panels has decreased by approximately 80% and as a result Australia now boasts the highest proportion of households with PV systems on their roof in the world. Almost 1.6 million Australian homes and businesses (roughly 15%) have installed such a system, contributing 2.4% to the country's total energy mix.
But although rooftop solar power is a long way ahead in Australia, Bretherton points out that ‘solar farms are ultimately more efficient than rooftop solar panels, which should encourage a future shift, as economies of scale associated with such large projects help to substantially reduce the costs of generating electricity’.
Source: Deutsche Welle