2017 will be remembered in Australia as the year of solar photovoltaic energy. In just 11 months, the country installed more than 1 GW of new solar power, showing an unprecedented rate of growth. The figure is fading compared to the photovoltaic voracity of countries like India or China, but it tells us a much more interesting story.
The Turnbull government has never hidden that it was openly opposed to financial support for renewable energy. The Australian government, on energy, has devised a plan to promote coal and gas, limiting the production of photovoltaic and wind power according to the individual needs of each state. Additionally, Canberra has made a firm commitment to phase out funding for solar and wind power starting in 2020.
In this rather difficult climate for “green” investors, solar energy continues to grow thanks mainly to small power plants. Figures recently published by Sunwiz, an Australian consultancy firm, confirms it: this year’s gigawatt of photovoltaic power consists of 893 MW of installations below 100 kW and only 114 MW above 100 kW.
SunWiz also expects smaller factories to achieve new annual installed capacity of between 1.05 GW and 1.10 GW by the end of the year.
It should be noted that incentives for solar power are still available and that the rise of these plants is partly motivated by the prospect of a future reduction in subsidies. But it’s also true that the only time Australia achieved annual GW growth was in 2012, when government aid was more generous than it is today.
In addition, one of the fastest growing segments is solar roofs, which peaked immediately after the rise in domestic electricity prices (over 5% in 2016-17).
In 2017, a record volume of commercial rooftop photovoltaic modules was commissioned, with 285 MW already installed, surpassing the previous record of 228 MW in 2016. As explained by Miriam Lyons, director of GetUp Environmental Justice Association, “It is clear that rising electricity bills are prompting people to install more solar panels.. “