Solar power in Australia

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Solar power in Australia is a relatively recent phenomenon. Currently, it has over 4,100 megawatts (MW) of installed photovoltaic (PV) solar power (March 2015),[1] and 760 MW of PV was installed in the preceding 12 months. At a capacity factor of 14 percent, this would contribute 1.1 percent of Australia's electrical energy. The amount of 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, Premier Mike Rann introduced a solar feed in tariff for households and an educational program that involved installing photovoltaics on the roofs of major public buildings such as the Adelaide Airport, State Parliament, Museum, Art Gallery and several hundred public schools.[2] In 2008 Premier 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 roof top solar installation in Australia, qualifying it for official "power station" status.[3] 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.[4] The second opened in 2012 at Greenough River Solar Farm with a capacity of 10 MW.[5] The price of photovoltaics has been decreasing, and in January 2013, was less than half the cost of using grid electricity in Australia.[6]

The country has been criticised for producing very little of its energy from solar power, despite its vast resources, extensive sunshine and thus high potential.[7][8][9][10]

Potential[edit]

Solar potential in Australia

The combination of Australia's dry climate and latitude give it a 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 the country's population centers.

With an installed photovoltaic capacity of 3,300 megawatts by the end of 2013, Australia ranks among the world's top ten solar countries.

Incentives[edit]

Source:Australian PV Institute[11]

Rebates[edit]

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.[12] 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)[13]

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.[14] Applications for the program ended 21 November 2012. A total of 2,870 schools have installed solar panels.[15] The output of each array can be viewed, and compared with that of up to four other schools.[16]

Feed-in tariffs[edit]

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.[17][18] 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.[19]

Mandatory renewable energy target[edit]

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.[20]

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[edit]

The Solar Flagships program sets aside $1.6 billion for solar power over a period of six years.[21] 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.[22][23]

Projects[edit]

Status by state[edit]

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.

State Project/Location Coordinates Capacity kW Status LGA Company Notes
NSW Sydney Markets Limited 33°51′36″S 151°04′08″E / 33.86°S 151.069°E / -33.86; 151.069 170 Commissioned 2014 Sydney Autonomous Energy Pioneering the construction of solar car ports in Australia.[24] Finalist nomination for 2014 Clean Energy Week Awards in the over 100 kW category[25]
VIC Toyota Altona North 37°49′48″S 144°49′44″E / 37.83°S 144.829°E / -37.83; 144.829 500 Commissioned 2013-2014 Melbourne Autonomous Energy Largest rooftop system in Victoria[26]
VIC Hilton Manufacturing 38°01′48″S 145°11′49″E / 38.03°S 145.197°E / -38.03; 145.197 100 Commissioned 2015 Melbourne Metpro Green Energy Photovoltaic[27]
NSW Newington College 33°53′24″S 151°09′43″E / 33.89°S 151.162°E / -33.89; 151.162 108 Commissioned 2014 Sydney Autonomous Energy Leading private school adopting solar photovoltaics[28]
NSW Pymble Ladies' College 33°46′48″S 151°08′02″E / 33.78°S 151.134°E / -33.78; 151.134 145 Commissioned 2012-2014 Sydney Autonomous Energy 3 stage implementation 145 kW photovoltaic modules, another leading private school[29]
NSW Methodist Ladies' College 33°52′12″S 151°06′04″E / 33.87°S 151.101°E / -33.87; 151.101 113 Commissioned 2013-2014 Sydney Autonomous Energy 2 stage implementation of photovoltaic modules, another leading private school[30]
NSW Sydney Corporate Park, Alexandria 33°54′36″S 151°11′31″E / 33.91°S 151.192°E / -33.91; 151.192 120 Commissioned 2013 Sydney Autonomous Energy Custom designed steel frames[31]
NSW Ace Gutters 33°57′36″S 151°04′05″E / 33.96°S 151.068°E / -33.96; 151.068 225 Commissioned 2013 Sydney Autonomous Energy Specifically designed mounting structures due to unique wind loading factors[32]
NSW Blacktown Workers and Sports Clubs 33°46′12″S 150°54′29″E / 33.77°S 150.908°E / -33.77; 150.908 33°47′24″S 150°53′46″E / 33.79°S 150.896°E / -33.79; 150.896 200 Commissioned 2012-2013 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)[33][34][35]
NSW Southern Cross Care 31°58′12″S 141°27′43″E / 31.97°S 141.462°E / -31.97; 141.462 150 Commissioned 2012 Sydney Autonomous Energy Large system to provide power needs for aged care facility[36]
NSW Various Residential 1-10 Ongoing venture Sydney Autonomous Energy Equipping residential properties with lighting and solar to become independent of grid-sourced energy[37]
QLD Coorparoo DC 27°18′S 153°02′E / 27.30°S 153.03°E / -27.30; 153.03 100 Completed December 2012 SEQ Energy Solutions Pty Ltd Photovoltaic
NSW Johnson & Johnson Medical 33°45′S 151°01′E / 33.75°S 151.01°E / -33.75; 151.01 200 Commissioned September 2010 Energy Matters Photovoltaic
NSW Dubbo 32°15′S 148°37′E / 32.25°S 148.62°E / -32.25; 148.62 50 Commissioned 1998 Country Energy Photovoltaic
NSW GPG Solar 32°15′S 148°37′E / 32.25°S 148.62°E / -32.25; 148.62 45 commissioned 2008 GPG Photovoltaic
NSW Building 46, Newington Armoury 33°51′S 151°04′E / 33.85°S 151.07°E / -33.85; 151.07 64 Commissioned 1999, refurbished 2007 Sydney Olympic Park Authority Photovoltaic
NSW Liddell Power Station[38] 32°22′29″S 150°58′44″E / 32.374851°S 150.979013°E / -32.374851; 150.979013 1,000 Complete Solar Heat and Power / Macquarie Generation Solar thermal
NSW Queanbeyan 35°21′00″S 149°13′48″E / 35.350°S 149.230°E / -35.350; 149.230 50 Commissioned 1999 Country Energy Photovoltaic
NSW Singleton Solar Farm 32°35′28″S 151°10′37″E / 32.591°S 151.177°E / -32.591; 151.177 407 Commissioned 1998 Built By Energy Australia

Sold to XYZ Solar Pty Ltd in June 2014

Photovoltaic

Polycrystalline 60W panels 200 kW ThinFilm 60W panels 207 kW Tweets: @singletonsolar

NSW Sydney Superdome Solar Array 33°52′12″S 151°10′12″E / 33.870°S 151.170°E / -33.870; 151.170 70 Commissioned 1999 Built by Energy Australia

Sold to XYZ Solar Pty Ltd in June 2014

Photovoltaic ThinFilm 60W panels

Tweets: @Superdomesolar

NSW White Cliffs Solar Power Station 30°51′22″S 143°05′20″E / 30.856°S 143.089°E / -30.856; 143.089 45 Constructed 1981 25 kW,
upgraded 1996,
decommissioned 2004
ANUTECH [39] Originally steam piston
then photovoltaic
VIC Queen Victoria Market 37°48′25″S 144°57′36″E / 37.807°S 144.960°E / -37.807; 144.960 200 Commissioned 2003 Melbourne City Council Photovoltaic
VIC Ballarat Solar Park. Ballarat Aerodrome. Mitchell Park, Ballarat. 37°30′S 143°48′E / 37.50°S 143.80°E / -37.50; 143.80 300 Commissioned 2009 Ballarat Origin Energy / Sharp Corporation Photovoltaic. Victoria's first ground mounted, flat plate and grid-connected solar farm[40][41]
VIC Bendigo Solar Park. 36°45′S 144°15′E / 36.75°S 144.25°E / -36.75; 144.25 300 Commissioned 2009 Bendigo Origin Energy / Sharp Corporation Photovoltaic. Victoria's first ground mounted, flat plate and grid-connected solar farm[40][41]
VIC Bridgewater Solar Plant, Bridgewater, Victoria 36°35′S 143°55′E / 36.59°S 143.91°E / -36.59; 143.91 500 Commissioned 2010 Shire of Loddon Silex Systems Ltd Australia's largest concentrator photovoltaics (CPV) solar power station[42]
VIC NextDC M1 Data Centre, Port Melbourne, Victoria 401 Completed December 2013 Energy Matters Will be Australia's largest privately owned rooftop photovoltaic solar system[43]
QLD University of Queensland St Lucia campus 27°29′52″S 153°00′46″E / 27.4978°S 153.0128°E / -27.4978; 153.0128 1,220 Completed July 2011 Ingenero, Trina Solar, RedFlow Photovoltaic[44][45]
QLD Fraser Coast Solar Farm 25°20′35″S 152°50′31″E / 25.343°S 152.842°E / -25.343; 152.842 401 Commissioned November 2012 Ingenero Photovoltaic, 1,630x 250W Suntech monocrystalline
QLD Queensland University of Technology (QUT) 27°28′41″S 153°01′44″E / 27.478°S 153.029°E / -27.478; 153.029 202 Completed November 2012 Brisbane Ingenero Photovoltaic, 250W Suntech and 328W SunPower polycrystalline
QLD Jaques Coffee Plantation 16°57′43″S 145°26′17″E / 16.962°S 145.438°E / -16.962; 145.438 80.5 Commissioned May 2012 NSE Solar Photovoltaic, 322 x 250w Xinyou XY250-96F/M5 [46]
QLD Moorooka Shopping Centre 27°31′52″S 153°01′23″E / 27.531°S 153.023°E / -27.531; 153.023 60 Commissioned December 2010 Brisbane Ingenero Photovoltaic 300x 200W Suntech polycrystalline
QLD Kogan Creek Solar Boost Project 26°54′00″S 150°43′59″E / 26.90°S 150.733°E / -26.90; 150.733 44,000 Under Construction Dec 2011 CS Energy Solar thermal[47]
QLD Windorah Solar Farm 26°24′50″S 142°39′38″E / 26.4139°S 142.6606°E / -26.4139; 142.6606 150 Completed October 2008 Ergon Energy, Solar Systems Photovoltaic[48]
SA Adelaide Showgrounds 34°56′43″S 138°35′12″E / 34.945355°S 138.586626°E / -34.945355; 138.586626 1,000 Completed 2009 Built Environs and Solar Shop Australia[49] Photovoltaic[50][51]
SA Jamestown Wastewater Treatment Plant 3,500 Under construction Mar 2015 Infratech Industries Floating Photovolatic[52]
SA Kingscote Airport 50 Commissioned 2013 Kangaroo Island Ingenero Photovoltaic[53]
SA Wilpena Pound 31°34′12″S 138°34′48″E / 31.570°S 138.580°E / -31.570; 138.580 100 Commenced 1998 AGL Energy Photovoltaic[54]
WA Australian Wool Testing Authority 32°06′01″S 115°48′22″E / 32.100314°S 115.806208°E / -32.100314; 115.806208 150 Commissioned 2013 City of Cockburn Perth Infinite Energy Photovoltaic 625 x 240W Conergy Power Plus polycrystalline
WA Carnarvon 24°54′00″S 113°43′01″E / 24.900°S 113.717°E / -24.900; 113.717 51.1 Commissioned 2005 (15.8)
30.2 added 2007
5.1 added 2012
Shire of Carnarvon Alexander Fullarton Photovoltaic
WA Greenough River Solar Farm 28°53′20″S 115°07′05″E / 28.889°S 115.118°E / -28.889; 115.118 10,000 Commissioned October 2012[5][55] City of Greater Geraldton Verve Energy and GE Financial Services Photovoltaic
NT Araluen Arts Centre 23°42′04″S 133°51′43″E / 23.701°S 133.862°E / -23.701; 133.862 162 Completed November 2012 Ingenero Photovoltaic, 648x Q-Cells monocrystalline
NT Bulman 13°39′36″S 134°19′48″E / 13.660°S 134.330°E / -13.660; 134.330 56 Commissioned 2002 NT PowerWater Photovoltaic
NT Hermannsburg 23°55′59″S 132°46′01″E / 23.933°S 132.767°E / -23.933; 132.767 192 Commissioned 2005 Solar Systems Photovoltaic
NT Kings Canyon Solar Power Station 24°15′00″S 131°34′12″E / 24.250°S 131.570°E / -24.250; 131.570 241 Commissioned 2003 NT PowerWater Photovoltaic
NT Lajamanu 18°20′17″S 130°37′59″E / 18.338°S 130.633°E / -18.338; 130.633 288 Commissioned 2005 Solar Systems Photovoltaic
NT Yuendumu 22°15′29″S 131°47′49″E / 22.258°S 131.797°E / -22.258; 131.797 192 Commissioned 2005 Solar Systems Photovoltaic
NT Crowne Plaza Alice Springs 23°43′09″S 133°52′39″E / 23.719060°S 133.877619°E / -23.719060; 133.877619 305 Commissioned 2009 SunPower / CAT Projects Photovoltaic[56]
NT Uterne Solar Power Station, Alice Springs 23°46′06″S 133°52′05″E / 23.768382°S 133.868033°E / -23.768382; 133.868033 1,000 Commissioned 2011 SunPower Corporation / Power and Water Corporation Photovoltaic[4]
NT Alice Springs Airport 23°47′45″S 133°53′47″E / 23.795840°S 133.896518°E / -23.795840; 133.896518 235 4 November 2010 Ingenero / CAT Projects Concentrated photovoltaics[57][58]
NT Desert Knowledge Australia Solar Centre, Alice Springs 23°45′43″S 133°52′30″E / 23.761852°S 133.874996°E / -23.761852; 133.874996 201 Commissioned 2008 Desert Knowledge Australia / CAT Projects Various photovoltaic[59][60]
ACT Parliament House Solar Power Pilot Project 35°18′29″S 149°07′26″E / 35.308°S 149.124°E / -35.308; 149.124 43 Commissioned 2011 Canberra Todae Solar / Silex Systems Ltd Photovoltaic[61][62]
ACT Royalla solar farm 35°29′24″S 149°08′42″E / 35.490°S 149.145°E / -35.490; 149.145 20,000 Commissioned September 2014 Canberra Fotowatio Renewable Ventures (FRV) Photovoltaic[63]
QLD Valdora Solar Farm 26°33′35″S 153°01′32″E / 26.5596°S 153.0256°E / -26.5596; 153.0256 15,000 Council DA Approval required early 2015. Tender due in first quarter 2015.[64] Sunshine Coast (Tender) Photovoltaic [65]
VIC SeaViews Manor 90 2013 Ocean Grove Solar Sunwerx Photovoltaic [66]
VIC Fenning Timber 99 2013 Bairnsdale Solar Sunwerx Photovoltaic [67]
NSW Nimbin Community Solar Farm 45 2011 Lismore Rainbow Power Company & Nimbin Neighbourhood and Information Centre Photovoltaic [68][69][70][71]
WA Solar Farm Carnarvon 300 2011 Carnarvon Energy Made Clean First PPA Solar farm in WA with Horizon Power
NSW Nyngan Solar Plant 102,000 Started January 2014. Expected completion June 2015. Bogan Shire AGL Energy CdTe thin-film technology. Will be the largest solar PV plant in the Southern Hemisphere. Capacity: 102 MWAC.[72][73][74]
NSW Broken Hill Solar Plant 53,000 Started July 2014. Expected completion November 2015. Broken Hill AGL Energy CdTe thin-film techonology. Capacity given in AC (53 MWAC).[75]

Victoria[edit]

The 100 MW PV Mildura Solar Concentrator Power Station, formerly expected to be completed in 2017, is now cancelled.[76] 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.[77]

Western Australia[edit]

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[edit]

There are 30 solar concentrator dishes at three locations in the Northern Territory: Hermannsburg, Yuendumu and Lajamanu. Solar Systems and the Federal government were involved in the projects.

The solar concentrator dish power stations together generate 720 kW and 1,555,000 kWh per year, representing a saving of 420,000 litres of diesel and 1,550 tonnes of greenhouse gas emissions.[78]

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.[79]

The project won a prestigious Engineering Excellence award in 2005.[79]

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[edit]

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).[63][80]

Solar cities program[edit]

Solar Cities is a demonstration programme designed to promote solar power, smart meters, and energy conservation in urban locations throughout Australia.[81]

Renewable Energy Master Plan 2030[edit]

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.[82] This ambitious plan was recently awarded the 2014 Eurosolar prize in the category of "Towns/municipalities, council districts and public utilities".[83]

See also[edit]

References[edit]

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  78. ^ Solar Systems projects
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External links[edit]