Australian solar PV installations hit the 5 gigawatt mark

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One Step Off The Grid

It’s official, there is now 5GW of solar power installed in Australia.

Five gigawatts: 5,000,000,000 Watts of solar power – its a number that’s hard to fathom. Indeed, solar power’s 5GW now represents 9% of Australia’s total electricity generation capacity of 56GW.

Statistics of this sort are often translated into more easily-understood figures by converting into the number of Australian households that could be powered by solar energy (1.25 million). Indeed, SunWiz recently calculated that there are over 23 million solar panels installed in Australia – a solar panel for every man woman and child.

An Iconic Australian Solar Installation

An Iconic Australian Solar Installation

Solar power was the #1 new power source in 2015

In 2015, there was 913MW of solar power added across Australia. This makes Solar Power Australia’s #1 source of new power capacity in 2015. By comparison, there was 774MW of wind power commissioned in the NEM in 2015 (Snowtown, Bald Hills, Mt Mercer, Boco Rock, Taralga, and Portland).

Interestingly, 1300 MW of coal power was decommissioned in 2015 (Wallerawang, Anglesea, and Redbank). Solar installations in 2015 consisted of 230MW of systems above 100kW, including the utility-scale solar farms at Nyngan (102MW), Moree (56MW), and Broken Hill (53MW), in addition to 712MW of systems less than 100kW in size.


A bright outlook for Solar power in 2016?

Last year the Australian PV industry grew overall, but this growth was solely due to the realisation of the projects borne of the Solar Flagships programme. Though there are a large number of utility-scale solar farms in early stages of development, most will commence deployment in 2017, meaning contraction in the solar industry is likely in 2016. Despite this and even as the volume of residential sales declines, there are sizeable opportunities in growth segments of the solar market, particularly in commercial and also in some highly favourable niches.

5GW of Solar Power Statistics

The following statistics are based upon analysis of the REC Registry for systems less than 100kW in size, and extensive web research (including REC Registry analysis) for systems greater than 100kW in size. In general this analysis tends to understate the actual installed volume in Australia because some systems don’t claim RECs and therefore don’t appear in the Registry. Note that the 2015 tally for sub-100kW systems is a projection as systems can take 12 months after installation to register. The tally also excludes systems installed in 2016YTD.



Screen Shot 2016-02-10 at 12.02.04 PM

 Australia’s Largest PV Installations

The table below lists Australia’s largest PV installations in descending order of capacity (in kW).

102,000          AGL Energy – Nyngan Solar Plant

56,000            Fotowatio Renewable Venture (FRV) – Moree Solar Farm

53,000            AGL Energy – Broken Hill Solar Plant

24,000            Fotowatio Renewable Venture (FRV) – Royalla Solar Farm

10,000            Greenough River Solar Farm – Geraldton

3,500              Belectric Australia – Mildura Solar PV Power Plant

3,275              University of Queensland – Gatton

3,100              Epuron – TKLN Solar – Uterne 2

2,000              CBH Group – Moora Solar Power Station

1,700              Rio Tinto – Bauxite Mine, Weipa – Phase 1 of 6.7MW

1,500              Silex / Solar Systems – Mildura CPV Solar Power Station / Mildura Demonstration Facility

1,260              Ergon Energy – Doomadgee Solar Farm

1,250              Casuarina Shopping Square

1,220              Shellharbour Shopping Centre

1,100              Newington Athletes’ Olympic Village

1,060              Brisbane Market Ltd (BML)

1,029              Greenway Investments P/L

1,000              Epuron – TKLN Solar – Uterne 1

1,000              Ergon Energy – Magnetic Island Solar City

1,000              IKEA – Canberra (Majura Parkway)

1,000              Adelaide Showgrounds

989                 IKEA – Tempe

950                 IKEA – Springvale

753                 Vawdrey’s Australia – Dandenong

741                 IKEA – Logan

741                 IKEA – Richmond

686                 Eco for Life Solar Systems

650                 IKEA – Marsden Park

636                 The Pines Elanora Solar Project

600                 Silex / Solar Systems – Bridgewater Test Facility

600                 Amaroo School

500                 Toyota – Altona Manufacturing Plant

Cool figure: The 5GW figure is even more impressive when related in terms of how much power humans themselves can generate. Imagine for a moment that you’re an elite cyclist and you’re cycling in the bunch (peleton) of the tour de france at 60km/h. Now an elite cyclist in this situation sustains an output of 250W of human power for a few hours, about the average power of one of today’s high-efficiency solar panels. On this basis, it would take a peleton of 20 million elite cyclists to produce the same power as Australia’s installed solar capacity. In other words, even if every able-bodied Australian simultaneously pedalled their bicycle as hard as they could, they still wouldn’t match the power output of Australia’s solar panels on a sunny day.

Image courtesy

Image courtesy

Which segments of the solar market will grow in 2016? What volume of PV will be installed in the coming year? Read SunWiz’s 2016 Strategic Predictions report to find out. Warwick Johnston is head of SunWiz.

This article was originally published on RE sister site, One Step Off The Grid. Click here to sign up for the weekly newsletter  

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  • Beat Odermatt

    A good start and a long way to go.

  • Chris Drongers

    5 GW active during daylight hours is great. That would be about 5 GW x 5 hour/day x 365 days or 9 TWhr (at a AEMO daytime generation price of +/-$50/MWhr that is $450M of displaced generation payment)

    Australia’s annual electricity use is about 213 TWhr and residentlal use is about a third of that at 70 TWhr.
    So in ten years PV in Australia has captured around 12% of the residential electricity market or 4% of the total electricity market.

    Where will we be in the next 10 years especially if
    – more positive regulatory framework for commercial rooftop PV including a FIT equivalent to the spot price and less onerous connection conditions,
    – battery storage and optional domestic/commercial spot price trading
    – a carbon price
    – an effective energy efficiency program
    (note ESAA figures give lower values in 2014 for domestic PV – 6 TWhr/yr, lower residential consumption 54 TWhr/yr )