Australia leads world on household solar … and on coal

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Energy industry report says Australia’s #1 ranking on rooftop solar uptake shows it’s not lagging the world on renewables. But what about its coal habit?

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With 1.4 million households with solar PV installed, rooftop solar has been one of Australia’s renewable energy success stories – a fact that is celebrated in a new report by the Energy Supply Association of Australia.

The report, titled Renewable Energy in Australia – How do we really compare?, notes that while Australia is ranked sixth in the world for total solar per capita, it is number one when it comes to solar on rooftops.

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And the ESSA fact sheet has plenty of nice graphics to illustrate this achievement.

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“More than one in seven households now have solar PV systems mounted on their roofs, which is a 15 per cent penetration rate,” the report says.

And it shows that South Australia and Queensland are leading the charge, with an average of 25 per cent and 24 per cent of households with solar on their roofs, and some suburbs in Adelaide and Brisbane – like Virginia and Chandler – boasting more than 50 per cent household PV penetration.

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“We have double the penetration rates of the next best country, Belgium, and more than three times the level in Germany, which is considered a leader in solar generation,” says ESAA chief Matthew Warren.

The report also shows that South Australia and Tasmania have some of the highest per capita wind generation in the world, alongside leading US states like Iowa and Texas.

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The message from this analysis, argues Warren, is that Australia “has not been a laggard” on renewable generation.

“This analysis clearly (shows) that we are have made progress in terms of sourcing energy from wind and solar and this can be expected to continue,” he says.

It’s an interesting message, coming from ESAA, which has in the past lobbied to have Australia’s Renewable Energy Target reduced and, more specifically, for the removal of upfront payments under the small-scale technology component of the RET – a measure aimed squarely at slowing rooftop solar uptake.

It seems to suggest that Australia is tracking just fine in its shift to renewable energy, as it tackles the dual task of emissions reduction and the modernisation of its grid. But surely the ESAA is not arguing that Australia has done enough.

The chart below, which is included on ESAA’s fact sheet, tells another story: That Australia is also among the world’s leading consumers of coal power generation. Anyone else confused?

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15 Comments
  1. john 3 years ago

    Considering Australia still has a sitting Senator who said ” Solar panels will never pay for themselves in a million years!” no wonder Australia is a laggard.
    When the message is that this new fangled stuff is rubbish what would you expect?
    When the political message is only rich people can get it what would you expect?
    Now both those statements are demonstrably wrong because 1 It is a proven Technology that has been around from basically the 1950;s and has been enhanced and 2 The said Senator is an out of touch person who is way past his put out to pasture time limit.
    I do however see blocking moves being made to inhibit the uptake of {” free energy “} big time just look at the various policies being put in place in each state.

  2. Chris Drongers 3 years ago

    What do the per capita and per household figures look like when expressed as total energy generated (kWhr/household, kWhr/capita) rather than as installed capacity (kW/household, kW/capita)? and then recalibrate it as a percent of total per household and per capita energy use.
    Expressing it in energy units rather than power would incorporate differences in solar radiation levels in different countries, and in percentages would re-calibrate to include the energy efficiency of households.

    • Ronald Brakels 3 years ago

      About 2.5% of Australia’s total electricity use comes from solar. (This figure might be a bit out of date though.) And about 6.5% or more of South Australia’s electricity use is supplied by rooftop solar.

  3. Ken Dyer 3 years ago

    Perhaps the fact that China has recently sacked 100,000 coal miners may give a clue to the fossil fuel burners of Australia. Get out while you can!

    • john 3 years ago

      Well they downsized by 10000 in Queensland evidently

  4. Alen T 3 years ago

    Link to report?

  5. Phil 3 years ago

    Coal is looking sick indeed . I remember in High School a long time ago i was gobsmacked by the amount of Coal in NSW and QLD , enough for 1000 years as a huge wide seam of resource running right up the country .But who then could of forseen the even more gobsmacking energy for almost free with few pollutents from solar and wind that we take for granted now.

  6. Math Geurts 3 years ago

    For Germany: “It is also found that despite of optimized installation angles, the average market value of electricity production from PV drops significantly from 41 €/MW h at the base year 2012 to below 24 €/MW h for additional 40 GW which has strong implications for the competitiveness of PV in the future”

    http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0306261915010338

  7. David K Clarke 3 years ago

    Where can we get the original report?

  8. andrea 2 years ago

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