Solar power in Australia
Solar power in Australia is a relatively recent phenomenon. As at March 2015, Australia had over 4,100 megawatts (MW) of installed photovoltaic (PV) solar power, with 760 MW of PV having been installed in the preceding 12 months. At a capacity factor of 14%, this would contribute 1.1% of Australia's electrical energy. The installed PV capacity in Australia has increased 10-fold 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.
In South Australia, a solar feed-in tariff was introduced for households and an educational program that involved installing PVs on the roofs of major public buildings such as the Adelaide Airport, State Parliament, Museum, Art Gallery and several hundred public schools. In 2008 Premier Mike Rann announced funding for $8 million worth of solar panels on the roof of the new Goyder Pavilion at the Royal Adelaide Showgrounds, the largest rooftop solar installation in Australia, qualifying it for official "power station" status. South Australia has the highest per capita take up of household solar power in Australia.
The first commercial-scale PV power plant was opened in 2011, the Uterne Solar Power Station, a 1 MW capacity grid-connected solar photovoltaic system located 5 km south of Alice Springs in the Northern Territory. The second opened in 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.
- 1 Potential
- 2 Incentives
- 3 Projects
- 4 See also
- 5 References
- 6 External links
The combination of Australia's dry climate and latitude give it high benefits and 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 highest insolation are distant to Australia's population centres.
With an installed photovoltaic capacity of 3,300 megawatts by the end of 2013, Australia ranks among the world's top ten solar countries.
There is considerable academic and commercial interest in a new form of Concentrated Solar Power, called STEM, for off-grid applications to produce 24-hour industrial scale power for remote communities and mining sites. STEM uses fluidized silica sand as a thermal storage and heat transfer medium for CSP systems. It has been developed by Italy's Magaldi Industries. The first commercial application of STEM will take place in Sicily in late 2015.
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.
A number of states have set up schemes to encourage the uptake of solar PV power generation involving households installing solar panels and selling excess electricity to electricity retailers to put into the electricity grid, widely called "feed-in". Each scheme involves the setting of feed in tariffs, which 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 10 W for every person in Germany compared to Australia at 2.6 W per capita.
Mandatory renewable energy target
In 2001, the Australian government introduced a mandatory renewable energy target (MRET) designed to 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.
The Solar Flagships program sets aside $1.6 billion for solar power over a period of six years. 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
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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||Nyngan Solar Plant||102,000||2015 - Fully commissioned in June. Commissioned in stages.||Bogan Shire||AGL Energy||CdTe thin-film technology. Is the largest solar PV plant in the Southern Hemisphere. Capacity: 102 MWAC.|
|NSW||Moree Solar Farm||56,000||Full power achieved March 2016.||Moree Plains Shire||Fotowatio Renewable Ventures (FRV)||Photovoltaic, single axis tracking.|
|NSW||Broken Hill Solar Plant||53,000||2014 - Commissioned July. Full power output achieved on 14 October 2015.||Broken Hill||AGL Energy||CdTe thin-film technology. Capacity given in AC (53 MWAC).|
|QLD||Kogan Creek Solar Boost Project||44,000||2016 - Cancelled||CS Energy||Solar thermal|
|ACT||Royalla solar farm||20,000||2014 - Commissioned September||Canberra||Fotowatio Renewable Ventures (FRV)||Photovoltaic|
|QLD||Valdora Solar Farm||15,000||2015 - Council DA Approval required early 2015. Tender due in first quarter 2015.||Sunshine Coast||(Tender)||Photovoltaic |
|ACT||Mugga Lane Solar Park||13,000||Awarded feed-in tariff via ACT reverse auction. Expected completion 2016.||Canberra||Zhenfa||Photovoltaic|
|WA||Greenough River Solar Farm||10,000||2012 - Commissioned October||City of Greater Geraldton||Verve Energy and GE Financial Services||Photovoltaic|
|NSW||Liddell Power Station||9,000||Complete, but idled||Solar Heat and Power / Macquarie Generation||Solar thermal|
|NT||Uterne Solar Power Station, Alice Springs||4,100||2011 - Commissioned 2011 (1000)
2015 - added 3100
|SunPower Corporation / Power and Water Corporation / Epuron||Photovoltaic|
|NT||Darwin International Airport||4,000||2016 - To be commissioned in March||City of Darwin||CAT Projects / Coronium||Q-CELL photovoltaic panels|
|SA||Jamestown Wastewater Treatment Plant||33°12'17.82"S
|3,500||2015 - Commissioned April||Northern Areas||Infratech Industries||Floating, tracking photovolatic|
|SA||Tonsley||3,000||2014 - Announced||Zen Energy||Photovoltaic|
|NSW||Lake Cargelligo Solar Thermal Power Station||3,000||2011||Lachlan Shire||Graphite Energy / Solastor||Concentrating solar thermal, graphite block technologyc|
|QLD||Weipa bauxite mine||12°38'51.92"S
|1,700||2015 - Commissioned (1.7 MW), opportunity to expand to 6.7 WM with storage||Rio Tinto Group, First Solar||Photovoltaic|
|1,500||2015 - Under construction October||Port Augusta||Sundrop Farms||Concentrated solar thermal|
|1,250||2015 - Practical completion||City of Darwin||GPT Group||Photovoltaic|
|QLD||University of Queensland St Lucia campus||1,220||2011 - Completed July||Ingenero, Trina Solar, RedFlow||Photovoltaic|
|SA||Adelaide airport||1,170||2016 - Completed||Photovoltaic|
|SA||Adelaide Showgrounds||1,000||2009 - Completed||Built Environs and Solar Shop Australia||Photovoltaic|
|990||2014 - Commissioned||Marrickville||Kingspan Solar, Yingli, SMA||Photovoltaic|
|950||2014 - Commissioned||Photovoltaic|
|741||2014 - Commissioned||Photovoltaic|
|721||2014 - Commissioned||Photovoltaic|
|VIC||Bridgewater Solar Plant, Bridgewater, Victoria||500||2010 - Commissioned||Shire of Loddon||Silex Systems Ltd||Australia's largest concentrator photovoltaics (CPV) solar power station|
|VIC||Toyota Altona North||500||2013-2014 Commissioned||Melbourne||Autonomous Energy||Largest rooftop system in Victoria|
|495||2013 - Commissioned||City of Playford||Ingenero, Clenergy||Photovoltaic|
|NSW||Singleton Solar Farm||407||1998 - Commissioned||Built By Energy Australia
Sold to XYZ Solar Pty Ltd in June 2014
Polycrystalline 60W panels 200 kW ThinFilm 60W panels 207 kW Tweets: @singletonsolar
|NT||Kalkarindji||402||2011 - Commissioned||Epuron||Photovoltaic, part of 3-site TKLN Power project|
|QLD||Fraser Coast Solar Farm||401||2012 - Commissioned November||Ingenero||Photovoltaic, 1,630x 250W Suntech monocrystalline|
|VIC||NextDC M1 Data Centre, Port Melbourne, Victoria||401||2013 - Completed December||Energy Matters||Will be Australia's largest privately owned rooftop photovoltaic solar system|
|SA||Ware Products P/L||34°32'5.57"S
|334||2013 - Commissioned||Light Regional Council||Class A Energy Solutions||Photovoltaic|
|NT||Ti Tree||22° 7'26.69"S
|324||2011 - Commissioned||Epuron||Photovoltaic, part of 3-site TKLN Power project|
|NT||Crowne Plaza Alice Springs||305||2009 - Commissioned||SunPower / CAT Projects||Photovoltaic|
|WA||Marble Bar||21° 9'52.02"S
|304||2011||Pilbara||SunPower, Horizon Power, SMA||Single-axis tracking photovoltaic|
|VIC||Ballarat Solar Park. Ballarat Aerodrome. Mitchell Park, Ballarat.||300||2009 - Commissioned||Ballarat||Origin Energy / Sharp Corporation||Photovoltaic. Victoria's first ground mounted, flat plate and grid-connected solar farm|
|WA||Solar Farm Carnarvon||300||2011||Carnarvon||Energy Made Clean||First PPA Solar farm in WA with Horizon Power|
|VIC||Bendigo Solar Park.||300||2009 - Commissioned||Bendigo||Origin Energy / Sharp Corporation||Photovoltaic. Victoria's first ground mounted, flat plate and grid-connected solar farm|
|NT||Lajamanu||288||2005 - Commissioned||Solar Systems||Photovoltaic|
|NSW||Australia Post, Sydney||283||2014 - Commissioned||Photon Energy||One of Australia's largest rooftop PV installation. Part of a general refurbishment of Australia Post's Sydney HQ.|
|NT||Alpurrurulam (Lake Nash)||266||2011 - Commissioned||Epuron||Part of 3-site TKLN Power project|
|NT||Kings Canyon Solar Power Station||241||2003 - Commissioned||NT PowerWater||Photovoltaic|
|NT||Alice Springs Airport||235||2010 - Commissioned 4 November||Ingenero / CAT Projects||Concentrated photovoltaics|
|230||2014 - Commissioned August||Solar Depot Commercial||Photovoltaic|
|NSW||Ace Gutters||225||2013 Commissioned||Sydney||Autonomous Energy||Specifically designed mounting structures due to unique wind loading factors|
|203||2011||Pilbara||SunPower, Horizon Power, PowerCorp, SMA||Single-axis tracking photovoltaic|
|QLD||Queensland University of Technology (QUT)||202||2012 - Completed November||Brisbane||Ingenero||Photovoltaic, 250W Suntech and 328W SunPower polycrystalline|
|NT||Desert Knowledge Australia Solar Centre, Alice Springs||201||2008 - Commissioned||Desert Knowledge Australia / CAT Projects||Various photovoltaic|
|ACT||Faulding B||200||2016 - Commissioned||Symonston||Photon Energy||Rooftop power plant|
|VIC||Queen Victoria Market||200||2003 - Commissioned||Melbourne City Council||Photovoltaic|
|SA||Adelaide Aqua – Adelaide Desalination Plant||35° 5'48.57"S
|200||2011 - Commissioned||SA Water / Adelaide Aqua Consortium||Photovoltaic|
|200||2013 - Commissioned||Onkaparinga||The Solar Project, Hanwha Q Cells||Photovoltaic|
|NSW||Johnson & Johnson Medical||200||2010 - Commissioned September||Energy Matters||Photovoltaic|
|NSW||Blacktown Workers and Sports Clubs||200||2012-2013 Commissioned||Sydney||Autonomous Energy||Nomination and collection of Clean Energy Week Award 2013 "Best Grid-Connected Solar PV Power System Design and Installation Award" (15 kW - 100 kW category)|
|QLD||Bundaberg Christian College||24.8685° S,
|197||2016 Commissioned||Bundaberg||GEM Energy Australia||Photovoltaic, 740x Q CELLS Q.PRO G4 modules, 400kWh Hitachi AVRLA with Nano-Carbon Technology batteries.|
|193||2014 - Commissioned||Onkaparinga||Photovoltaic|
|NT||Yuendumu||192||2005 - Commissioned||Solar Systems||Photovoltaic|
|NT||Hermannsburg||192||2005 - Commissioned||Solar Systems||Photovoltaic|
|NSW||Sydney Markets Limited||170||2014 - Commissioned||Sydney||Autonomous Energy||Pioneering the construction of solar car ports in Australia. Finalist nomination for 2014 Clean Energy Week Awards in the over 100 kW category|
|NT||Araluen Arts Centre||162||2012 - Completed||Ingenero||Photovoltaic, 648x Q-Cells monocrystalline|
|160||2014 - Commissioned||Photovoltaic|
|NSW||Southern Cross Care||150||2012 - Commissioned||Sydney||Autonomous Energy||Large system to provide power needs for aged care facility|
|SA||Morphett Vale Medical Centre||35° 6'20.53"S
|150||2014 - Commissioned||Onkaparinga||Todae Solar, Thoroughtec P/L||Photovoltaic|
|WA||Australian Wool Testing Authority||150||2013 - Commissioned||City of Cockburn Perth||Infinite Energy||Photovoltaic 625 x 240W Conergy Power Plus polycrystalline|
|QLD||Windorah Solar Farm||150||2008 - Completed October||Ergon Energy, Solar Systems||Photovoltaic|
|ACT||Faulding A||148||2016 - Commissioned||Symonston||Photon Energy||Rooftop power plant|
|NSW||Pymble Ladies' College||145||2012-2014 Commissioned||Sydney||Autonomous Energy||3 stage implementation 145 kW photovoltaic modules, another leading private school|
|ACT||Symonston||144||2012 - Commissioned||Photon Energy||Rooftop power plant|
|ACT||Fyshwick||140||2012 - Commissioned||Photon Energy||Rooftop power plant|
|SA||Adelaide Showgrounds - Ridley Centre||34°56'44.92"S
|140||Built Environs and Solar Shop Australia||Photovoltaic, thin film|
|NSW||Sydney Corporate Park, Alexandria||120||2013 Commissioned||Sydney||Autonomous Energy||Custom designed steel frames|
|NSW||Methodist Ladies' College||113||2013-2014 Commissioned||Sydney||Autonomous Energy||2 stage implementation of photovoltaic modules, another leading private school|
|NSW||Newington College||108||2014 - Commissioned||Sydney||Autonomous Energy||Leading private school adopting solar photovoltaics|
|SA||Wilpena Pound||100||1998 - Commenced||AGL Energy||Photovoltaic|
|QLD||Coorparoo DC||100||2012 - Completed December||SEQ Energy Solutions Pty Ltd||Photovoltaic|
|VIC||Hilton Manufacturing||100||2015 - Commissioned 2015||Melbourne||Metpro Green Energy||Photovoltaic|
|NSW||Macquarie Park||99||2015 - Commissioned||Sydney||Photon Energy||Rooftop power plant on raised steel frames, creating storage space|
|VIC||Fenning Timber||99||2013||Bairnsdale||Solar Sunwerx||Photovoltaic |
|VIC||SeaViews Manor||90||2013||Ocean Grove||Solar Sunwerx||Photovoltaic |
|QLD||Jaques Coffee Plantation||80.5||2012 - Commissioned May||NSE Solar||Photovoltaic, 322 x 250w Xinyou XY250-96F/M5 |
|VIC||Amberfield Farm||78||Commissioned May 2015||Nar Nar Goon||Standard Solar Pty Ltd||Photovoltaic|
|NSW||Sydney Superdome Solar Array||70||1999 - Commissioned||Built by Energy Australia
Sold to XYZ Solar Pty Ltd in June 2014
|Photovoltaic ThinFilm 60W panels
|NSW||Building 46, Newington Armoury||64||1999 - Commissioned
2007 - Refurbished
|Sydney Olympic Park Authority||Photovoltaic|
|QLD||Moorooka Shopping Centre||60||2010 - Commissioned December||Brisbane||Ingenero||Photovoltaic 300x 200W Suntech polycrystalline|
|NT||Bulman||56||2002 - Commissioned 2002||NT PowerWater||Photovoltaic|
|WA||Carnarvon||51.1||2005 - Commissioned (15.8)
2007 - added 30.2
2012 - added 5.1
|Shire of Carnarvon||Alexander Fullarton||Photovoltaic|
|NSW||Dubbo||50||1998 - Commissioned||Country Energy||Photovoltaic|
|50||2013 - Commissioned||Kangaroo Island||Ingenero||Photovoltaic|
|NSW||Queanbeyan||50||1999 - Commissioned||Country Energy||Photovoltaic|
|NSW||GPG Solar||45||2008 - commissioned||GPG||Photovoltaic|
|NSW||Nimbin Community Solar Farm||45||2011||Lismore||Rainbow Power Company & Nimbin Neighbourhood and Information Centre||Photovoltaic |
|NSW||White Cliffs Solar Power Station||45||1981 - Constructed 25 kW,
1996 - upgraded
2004 - decommissioned
|ANUTECH ||Originally steam piston
|VIC||Austank||44||Commissioned March 2016||Carrum Downs||Standard Solar Pty Ltd||Photovoltaic|
|ACT||Parliament House Solar Power Pilot Project||43||2011 - Commissioned||Canberra||Todae Solar / Silex Systems Ltd||Photovoltaic|
Australian Capital Territory
A new 20 MWp solar power plant has been built on 50 hectares of land in Royalla, a rural part of the Australian Capital Territory south of Canberra. It is powered by 83,000 solar panels, and can power for 4,400 homes. It was officially opened on 3 September 2014. It is the first solar plant facility in the Australian capital, and at the time of building the largest such plant in Australia. The facility was built by a Spanish company, Fotowatio Renewable Ventures (FRV).
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.
The largest solar PV array in South Australia is located at Adelaide airport, with a generating capacity of 1.17 MW. Sundrop Farms concentrating solar power plant has a generating capacity of 40 MW, and is the first of its kind to be commissioned in the state. Both projects were completed in 2016.
The 100 MW PV Mildura Solar Concentrator Power Station, formerly expected to be completed in 2017, is now cancelled. It was expected to be the biggest and most efficient solar photovoltaic power station in the world. The power station was expected to concentrate the sun by 500 times onto the solar cells for ultra high power output. The Victorian power station would have generated electricity directly from the sun to meet the annual needs of over 45,000 homes with on-going zero greenhouse gas emissions.
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.
Solar cities program
Solar Cities is a demonstration program designed to promote solar power, smart meters, and energy conservation in urban locations throughout Australia. One such location is Townsville, Queensland.
Renewable Energy Master Plan 2030
The Council of Sydney is attempting to make the city run 100% on renewable energy by 2030. This plan was announced earlier in 2014 with the blueprints made public on their website. This ambitious plan was recently awarded the 2014 Eurosolar prize in the category of "Towns/municipalities, council districts and public utilities".
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- Administrator. "Energy". nnic.org.au.
- "Power to the people". Northern Star.
- "Nimbin's sustainability quest given boost". australiangeographic.com.au.
- The White Cliffs Project: Overview for the period 1979-89
- "Solar panels project". aph.gov.au.
- "Parliament House Solar Power Case Study - Todae Solar". todaesolar.com.au.
- "Big Solar Power a Big Deal in the ACT and Beyond - The Green Power Company". The Green Power Company - Solar Power Systems.
- Solar Systems projects
- Hermannsburg, Yuendumu and Lajamanu solar power stations
- Tom Arup: "Sunraysia's huge solar farm up and running", in The Age, 17 July 2013
- 154MW Victorian Project
- "Solar Cities". climatechange.gov.au.
- "TOWNSVILLE SET TO BECOME A SOLAR CITY". statements.qld.gov.au. Retrieved 19 April 2016.
- "CONTRACT SIGNING A KEY MILESTONE IN SOLAR CITY PROJECT". statements.qld.gov.au. Retrieved 19 April 2016.
- "Renewable Energy Master Plan". Sydney City Council.
- "Winners of Eurosolar Prize 2014". EUROSOLAR.
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