Solar power in Australia

Solar power use in Australia, despite the country having a reputation for a hot dry and sunny climate that might make it ideal for utilisation, provides less than one percent of electricity needs. This unreached grid parity is mainly due to the higher cost per kW than other power sources because of the cost of solar panels. Feed-in tariffs and mandatory renewable energy targets are designed to assist renewable energy commercialisation in Australia.

A 154 MW photovoltaic (PV) solar power station in Victoria is planned and is expected to cost $420 million. It is expected to be the biggest and most efficient solar photovoltaic power station in the world. The power station is expected to concentrate the sun by 500 times onto the solar cells for ultra high power output. The Victorian power station will generate electricity directly from the sun to meet the annual needs of over 45,000 homes with zero greenhouse gas emissions. [ [ 154MW Victorian Project] ]



Australia has a rebate program that provides up to AU$8,000 rebates for installing solar panels on homes and community use buildings (other than schools), through the Solar Homes and Communities Plan. [ [ Solar Homes and Communities Plan] ] However, on 13 May 2008, this program was restricted to those with an income of less than AU$100,000. [ [ Solar power rebate to be means tested] ] Government figures estimate that this will reduce the number of solar installations by 60%, angering the solar industry and causing layoffs. [ [ Business fears losses from solar means test] ] [ [ Solar sector's 'heart broken' by Budget] ]

Schools are eligible to apply for grants of up to AU$50,000 to install 2 kW solar panels and other measures through the National Solar Schools Program beginning 1 July 2008, which replaces the Green Vouchers for Schools program. [ [ The National Solar Schools Program is on the way] ]

Feed in tariffs

Feed in tariffs are being introduced by a number of states to increase the amount of solar PV power generated. Feed-in tariffs can be defined by a number of factors including the price paid, whether it is on a net or gross basis, the length of time for which the scheme is guaranteed, the maximum size of installation allowed to benefit, the type of customer allowed to participate. In Germany, a guaranteed PV tariff means that Germany now has the highest PV capacity per capita – at 10W for every person in Germany compared to Australia at 2.6W per capita. [ Supply side options for WA stationary energy: An assessment of alternative technologies and development support mechanisms in the Final report to WA Greenhouse and Energy Taskforce by Next Energy in 26 September 2006 ]

Mandatory Renewable Energy Targets

MRETs require generators or retailers to sell a minimum proportion of the total amount of electricity sold from renewable sources by a certain date or face financial penalties. MRETs can stimulate demand for renewable energy, but this might be from other sources apart from solar PV.

Projects and status by state

The list of solar power projects below is not complete as there are many more sites that have solar power or hybrid solar/wind systems to generate their own power needs. Projects with a power rating less than 3 kW are not listed.

Major solar power companies

Solar Systems

Solar Systems is a world leader in high concentration solar photovoltaic applications, and the company is preparing to build the world's largest photovoltaic Solar power station in Victoria, Australia. [] This project will use innovative concentrator dish technology.

Solar Systems has already completed construction of three concentrator dish power stations in the Northern Territory, which together generate 720kW and 1,555,000 kWh per year. This represents a saving of 420,000 litres of diesel fuel and 1550 tonnes of greenhouse gas emissions. []

In 2003 Solar Systems completed construction of the first concentrator dish power station at Umuwa in South Australia. []

BP Solar

BP has been involved in solar power since 1973 and its subsidiary, BP Solar, is now one of the world's largest solar power companies with production facilities in the United States, Spain, India and Australia. []

See also

*Andrew Blakers
*BP Solar
*Building-integrated photovoltaics
*Martin Green
*Photovoltaic and renewable energy engineering in Australia
*Renewable energy commercialisation in Australia
*Solar power
*Solar power station in Victoria
*Wind power in Australia
*Solar power plants in Central Australia
*Solar Cities in Australia


External links

* [ List of useful links about renewable energy projects in Australia]
* [ Why does Green Power cost extra?]
* [ A daily solar map of Australia from Bureau of Meteorology]
* [ Australian Greenhouse Office list of operating renewable energy generators]
* [ A 220kW power station in the Northern Territory]
* [ 154MW Victorian Project]
* [ Details of Kalbarri & Rockingham projects]
* [ Solar panels give conventional power a beating]
* [,25197,22351168-23850,00.html Sunburnt land has energy in store]
* [ Solar-roofed ‘immigration bridge’ floated for Canberra]
* [ South Australia’s grid payback makes solar easier]
* [ Brumby planning to plug Victoria into the sun]

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