Comparing Australia’s Solar Capacity to the Rest of the World
Australia is one of the best countries in the world for solar power. The most obvious reason is the abundant solar resource throughout the country. A lesser-known fact is that Australia is second to only Germany in total system costs for solar power. In fact, while Australia represents only 0.3% of the world population, Australia’s solar power accounts for 3.2% of the world’s capacity.
Growth in Australia
Recent estimates show that over 1 million rooftops in Australia have solar panels. This number is equivalent to 13% of all households in the country. In reaching this number, the country has experienced rapid growth in the industry, averaging more nearly 60% growth in total gigawatts (GW) of installed capacity over the past three years. By the end of 2013, Australia is expected to have installed over 3 GW of solar power throughout the country.
The increased growth of solar power has drastically outpaced the growth of electricity demand, and each year, solar power grabs a larger share of total production. In 2013, Australia’s solar capacity accounts for 0.92% of all electricity produced, compared to 0.14% in the US, 0.07% in the UK, 0.05% in China, and 0.01% in India. Germany leads all countries in this category, with solar representing 3.2% of its total electricity produced.
Ranking Cumulative Capacity
While Australia’s current share of electricity from solar stands up well against most countries, the cumulative installed capacity is still lagging behind. Germany has installed over 30 GW of solar power, Italy has installed nearly 20 GW, and the US as installed almost 10 GW. The primary reason for this is that Australia has relied primarily on small-scale rooftop solar to increase total capacity, while other countries, like the US and Germany, have completed many utility scale solar project. Since the residential installations, usually near 10 kW, are much smaller than commercial installations, in the MW range, it will take many more projects to reach cumulative capacity levels found in other industrialized nations.
The Future of Australian Solar Power
There is a silver lining, and a bright one at that. Due to the large number of separate installations, many of the soft costs associated with solar power have drastically decreased in the Australian solar market. The reason for this is primarily learning-by-doing. As installers and developers gain experience in the field, they develop best practices and streamlined processes, lowering their total costs. Much of this savings is passed on to the consumer, lowering the total upfront cost of solar power. So, while the cumulative solar capacity of Australia may currently be less than other countries, the total number of solar installations remains competitive. Due to the abundant solar resource and improvements in soft costs, the future of the Australian solar market looks bright.
- 27 Oct, 2013
- Kit Man Chan
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