Big solar helps deliver near record PV growth in 2015 | RenewEconomy

Big solar helps deliver near record PV growth in 2015

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In a year of record global growth, solar PV broke records in Australia in 2015 too, with biggest ever year for big solar helping to balance fall in rooftop market.

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Australia’s solar PV market recorded a bumper year of growth in 2015, according to a new industry report, chalking up the nation’s biggest ever year for utility-scale installations and the biggest year for PV all round since 2011, despite a contraction in the rooftop solar market.

The report, the latest annual update to the IEA prepared by the Australian PV Institute (APVI), said 1.016GW of solar PV was installed for the year, a nearly 20 per cent increase on 2014 levels that came close to matching the record year of 2011, and delivered a milestone of 5GW of cumulative installed capacity.

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Globally, 2015 saw several records broken in the PV market, with 25 per cent growth taking global capacity to a new high of 50GW (factoring in non-reporting countries). Twenty-three countries passed the 1GW mark and the 200GW mark and China overtook all-time record holder Germany, installing a massive 15.3GW for the year to lead the pace with 43.6GW cumulative capacity compared to Germany’s 39.7GW.

In Australia, the APVI report highlights the high uptake of PV on residential rooftops in areas around Brisbane, Adelaide and Perth, with some neighbourhoods reaching a penetration of up to 50 per cent of households with rooftop solar, which the national average is now just under 20 per cent.

For the year, 90,000 new rooftop PV systems were installed, bringing the total number of PV installations to over 1.5 million.

This, along with the record deployment of 280MW of utility-scale solar means solar energy generation now accounts for 2.8 per cent of Australia’s electricity demand.

Further, of all the new generation capacity added in Australia over the course of the year – 100 per cent of which came from renewables – 60 per cent came from the 1GW of new solar installs.

The report notes that the significant increase in utility-scale solar follows the installation of the Nyngan, Broken Hill and Moree power stations, as well as a modest increase in commercial installs of between 10-100kW.

But while Australia’s rooftop solar numbers still lead the world on a per capita basis, and remain Australia’s largest single market for installed capacity the report charts a decline in rooftop solar installations.

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Indeed, it notes that taking into account the increase in the average system size, “the fall in installed capacity reflects an even greater contraction in the number of individual installations.”

Average unsupported small systems prices are $2.30/W, with STCs reducing this to $1.50/W, the report said.

The average utility-scale price was $A2.34/W.

Finally, the report notes that the value of the solar industry to Australia was $A2.47 billion, and created 8310 direct and 4100 indirect jobs.

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  1. Chris Drongers 4 years ago

    Was the fall in rooftop installations expected as an effect of the market approaching saturation? That is, a large percentage of the rooftops that are suitable for PV and controlled by people looking to install PV now have PV?

    • Renate 4 years ago

      The market is pretty diverse and has been policy driven so it’s been very hard to predict behaviour in a changing/uncertain policy environment. I think what we are seeing now is the market shifting to a zero-incentive market. Market saturation? with many suburbs at 50% penetration – the benchmark is set high and I dont think we can consider ourselves at market saturation except in those small areas. There is plenty of growth beyond the current 1.5 million rooftops (20%) of market. Solar at residential level has a better ROI than 20% (search ROI for solar in Australia). Market awareness and regulatory hurdles are the biggest barriers. There’s also signficant upside in the commercial market -which is a more natural fit in when feed in tarriffs are near negligible

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