Solar power in Australia
Australia has over 2 GW of installed photovoltaic (PV) power (November 2012), and 859 MW of PV was installed in 2011 (more than double than in 2010). 2012 year-to-date installations exceeded 450 MW in August. This is up from 1031.1 MW of installed photovoltaic (PV) power (August 2011),. At a capacity factor of 14 percent, this would contribute 8/10th of one percent of Australia's electrical energy (~261 terawatt hours per year) (1.74 x 24 x 365 x 0.14 = 2133 gigawatt hours = 2.1 terawatt hours). Growth in the amount of installed PV capacity in Australia has been dramatic with a 10-fold increase between 2009 and 2011. Feed-in tariffs and mandatory renewable energy targets designed to assist renewable energy commercialisation in Australia have largely been responsible for the rapid increase. The first commercial-scale PV power plant opened October 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 a high potential for solar energy production. Most of the Australian continent receives in excess of 4 kWh per square metre per day of insolation during winter months, with a region in the north exceeding 6 kWh/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 Australia with highest insolation are in the interior, away from population centers.
The Australian Government provided a rebate program that offered up to A$8,000 rebates for installing solar panels on homes and community use buildings (other than schools), through the Solar Homes and Communities Plan. However, on 8 June 2009, this program was phased out, 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 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.
 Feed-in tariffs
Feed in tariffs were introduced by a number of states to increase the amount of solar PV power generated. They 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 Germany now has the highest PV capacity per capita – at 10W for every person in Germany compared to Australia at 2.6W per capita.
 Mandatory Renewable Energy Target
The Federal Government MRET will ensure renewable energy obtains a 20% share of electricity supply in Australia by 2020. The MRET will increase from 9,500 gigawatt-hours to 45,000 gigawatt-hours by 2020. The scheme lasts until 2030.
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. These sources include Wind, Hydro, Landfill Gas and Geothermal, as well as Solar PV and Solar Thermal, providing a stimulus and additional revenue for these technologies.
 Subsidy funding
The Solar Flagships program sets aside $1.6 billion for solar power. 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 euros in 2007. In 2009, the Arizona state government announced a 200 MW plant for 1 billion US dollars.
 Status by state
||This section needs additional citations for verification. (February 2012)|
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 30 kW are not listed.
|NSW||Johnson & Johnson Medical||200||commissioned September 2010||Energy Matters||Photovoltaic|
|NSW||Dubbo||50||commissioned 1998||Country Energy||Photovoltaic|
|NSW||GPG Solar||45||commissioned 2008||GPG||Photovoltaic|
|NSW||Building 46, Newington Armoury||64||commissioned 1999, refurbished 2007||Sydney Olympic Park Authority||Photovoltaic|
|NSW||Liddell Power Station||1,000||complete||Solar Heat and Power / Macquarie Generation||Solar thermal|
|NSW||Queanbeyan||50||commissioned 1999||Country Energy||Photovoltaic|
|NSW||Singleton||400||commissioned 1998||Energy Australia||Photovoltaic|
|NSW||Sydney Superdome||70||commissioned 1999||Energy Australia||Photovoltaic|
|NSW||White Cliffs Solar Power Station||45||Constructed 1981 25 kW,
|White Cliffs||Originally steam piston
|VIC||Queen Victoria Market||200||commissioned 2003||Melbourne City Council||Photovoltaic|
|VIC||Ballarat Solar Park. Ballarat Aerodrome. Mitchell Park, Ballarat.||300||Commissioned 2009||Ballarat||Origin Energy / Sharp Corporation||Photovoltaic. Victoria’s first ground mounted, flat plate and grid-connected solar farm|
|VIC||Bendigo Solar Park.||300||Commissioned 2009||Bendigo||Origin Energy / Sharp Corporation||Photovoltaic. Victoria’s first ground mounted, flat plate and grid-connected solar farm|
|VIC||Bridgewater Solar Plant, Bridgewater, Victoria||500||Commissioned 2010||Shire of Loddon||Silex Systems Ltd||Australia’s largest concentrated photovoltaics (CPV) solar power station|
|QLD||Cloncurry Solar Farm||2128||Planning||Ingenero||Was solar thermal, now photovoltaic|
|QLD||University of Queensland St Lucia campus||1220||Completed July 2011||Ingenero, Trina Solar, RedFlow||Photovoltaic|
|QLD||Fraser Coast Solar Farm||401||Commissioned November 2012||Ingenero||Photovoltaic, 1,630x 250W Suntech monocrystalline|
|QLD||Queensland University of Technology (QUT)||202||Completed November 2012||Brisbane||Ingenero||Photovoltaic, 250W Suntech and 328W SunPower polycrystalline|
|QLD||Jaques Coffee Plantation||80.5||Commissioned May 2012||NSE Solar||Photovoltaic, 322 x 250w Xinyou XY250-96F/M5 |
|QLD||Moorooka Shopping Centre||60||Commissioned December 2010||Brisbane||Ingenero||Photovoltaic 300x 200W Suntech polycrystalline|
|QLD||Kogan Creek Solar Boost Project||44,000||Under Construction Dec 2011||CS Energy||Solar thermal|
|QLD||Windorah Solar Farm||150||Completed October 2008||Ergon Energy, Solar Systems||Photovoltaic|
|SA||Adelaide Showgrounds||1000||Completed 2009||Built Environs and Solar Shop Australia||Photovoltaic|
|SA||Wilpena Pound||100||commenced 1998||AGL||Photovoltaic|
|SA||Whyalla||announced March 2008||Wizard Power Pty Ltd||Solar Thermal with ammonia thermochemical storage (1000 homes)|
|WA||Carnarvon||51.1||15.8 commissioned 2005; 30.2 added 2007; 5.1 added 2012||Shire of Carnarvon||Alexander Fullarton||Photovoltaic|
|WA||Greenough River Solar Farm||10,000||commissioned October 2012||City of Greater Geraldton||Verve Energy and GE Financial Services||Photovoltaic|
|NT||Araluen Arts Centre||162||Completed November 2012||Ingenero||Photovoltaic, 648x Q-Cells monocrystalline|
|NT||Bulman||56||commissioned 2002||NT PowerWater||Photovoltaic|
|NT||Hermannsburg||192||commissioned 2005||Solar Systems||Photovoltaic|
|NT||Kings Canyon Solar Power Station||241||commissioned 2003||NT PowerWater||Photovoltaic|
|NT||Lajamanu||288||commissioned 2005||Solar Systems||Photovoltaic|
|NT||Yuendumu||192||commissioned 2005||Solar Systems||Photovoltaic|
|NT||Crowne Plaza Alice Springs||305||commissioned 2009||SunPower / CAT Projects||Photovoltaic|
|NT||Uterne Solar Power Station, Alice Springs||1000||commissioned 2011||SunPower Corporation / Power and Water Corporation||Photovoltaic|
|NT||Alice Springs Airport||235||4 November 2010||Ingenero / CAT Projects||Concentrated photovoltaics|
|NT||Desert Knowledge Australia Solar Centre, Alice Springs||201||commissioned 2008||Desert Knowledge Australia / CAT Projects||Various photovoltaic|
|ACT||Parliament House Solar Power Pilot Project||43||commissioned 2011||Canberra||Todae Solar / Silex Systems Ltd||Photovoltaic|
The 150 MW PV Mildura Solar Concentrator Power Station is planned and is expected to cost as much as $905 million over its lifetime. 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 on-going zero greenhouse gas emissions.
 Western Australia
Western Australia now (Oct 2012) has one of the largest solar power farms in Australia, at Walkaway, 70 km SE of Geraldton. The Greenough River Solar farm was opened in October 2012. The 10MW field has 150,000 solar panels.
 Northern Territory
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.
 Australian Capital Territory
A new solar power plant will be built on 50 hectares of land in Canberra it will be 20 megawatt facility. It will be powered by 83,000 solar panels enough power for 4,400 homes. Construction is due to begin next year and be completed by 2014, subject to environmental and planning approval. It's going to be the first solar plant facility in the Australian capital. The facility will be built by a Spanish company Fotowatio Renewable Ventures (FRV).
 Solar cities program
Solar Cities is a demonstration programme designed to promote solar power, smart meters, and energy conservation in urban locations throughout Australia.
 See also
- Andrew Blakers
- Building-integrated photovoltaics
- Martin Green
- List of countries by electricity production from renewable sources
- Photovoltaic and renewable energy engineering in Australia
- Renewable energy in Australia
- Solar hot water in Australia
- Solar thermal energy in Australia
- Centre for Appropriate Technology (Australia)
- Solar PV
- Solar Power Australia 2011-12 Report Highlights, Energy Matters, 5 December 2012
- Solar PV. Clean Energy Council.
- Australia's Greenough River Solar Farm Opens Amid Renewable Target Debate, Reuters, Rebekah Kebede, 9 October 2012
- Solar Electricity Now Under Half The Cost Of Grid Power For Australian Households
- Insolation maps retrieved 2011 April 18
- Solar Homes and Communities Plan
- Office of the Renewable Energy Regulator
- The National Solar Schools Program is on the way
- National Solar Schools Program
- School Energy Monitoring
- ACT Govt. Feed In Tariff factsheet
- Feed In Solar Power Calculator
- 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
- Australian Government: Office of the Renewable Energy Regulator[dead link]
- "CERPA outlines PV goals as it says solar is centre of Australia's attention". pv magazine. 13 Aug 2010.
- Big Solar Power Plants for Australia
- Arizona Government
- Solar Panel
- Solar Future
- Stephens, Kim Solar park goes public The Courier. 27 November 2009.
- Ballarat and Bendigo Solar Parks Fact Sheet
- Bridgewater solar plant commences operations
- "Cloncurry Solar Farm Fact Sheet". Ingenero Pty Ltd. Retrieved 30 January 2012.
- UQ leading the way in solar generation
- University of Queensland starts to soak up the sun
- "PV output data". Retrieved 27 April 2013.
- Kogan Creek Power Station
- Windorah - Queensland's first solar farm
- Solar Shop
- Australia's largest solar power system opens
- Adelaide Showgrounds Solar Photovoltaic Project
- Solar first for Whyalla
- Greenough River Solar Farm
- Crowne Plaza
- Crowne Plaza Alice Springs
- Uterne Solar Power Station
- Alice Springs Airport
- Alice Springs Airport Solar Power Station
- Desert Knowledge Australia Solar Centre
- Desert Knowledge Australia Solar Centre
- Solar panels project
- Parliament House Solar Power Project
- 154MW Victorian Project
- Solar Systems projects
- Hermannsburg, Yuendumu and Lajamanu solar power stations
- Big Solar Power a Big Deal in the ACT and Beyond
- Solar Cities
|Wikimedia Commons has media related to: Solar power in Australia|
- A daily solar map of Australia from Bureau of Meteorology
- Australian Solar Institute (ASI)
- The Desert Knowledge Australia Solar Centre
- Sunburnt land has energy in store. The Australian. 3 September 2007.
- Brumby planning to plug Victoria into the sun. The Age. 17 June 2008.
- 1200 Buildings Initiative The City of Melbourne, 490 Spencer Street, West Melbourne, Victoria, Australia