How Australia lost its lead in solar PV, and is trying to get it back | RenewEconomy

How Australia lost its lead in solar PV, and is trying to get it back

Australia was once the global leader in the uptake of solar PV before it slipped down the rankings. Now, it may be about to reclaim its crown.


Australia has been a leader in the uptake – and development – of solar PV technology for the last two decades.

Even in terms of absolute installations, Australia once ranked second in the world, although it has been overtaken by the economic giants such as China and the US, and some other countries in both Europe and Asia along the way.

Australia will never be able to catch up with either China or the US and some of the other countries in absolute terms – unless the “green hydrogen economy really does take off – but it might just be able to do so in “per capita” terms.

For more than a decade – in the early years of solar PV deployment – Australia was ranked number 1 or two in the world in per-capita uptake of solar PV, and briefly in 1999 overtook the US to become number 1, before being unseated by Japan and then falling down the ratings.

But in the last seven years, first due to the uptake of rooftop solar, and now with the addition of significant amounts of large-scale solar, Australia is back to number 3, and within striking distance of the current world leaders, Japan and Germany.

Rooftop solar has been installed in record amounts in October, and with no sign of its slowing down, and with big industrial users also beating the most optimistic forecasts, and huge arrays of large scale solar planned in W.A., and the Northern Territory, particularly for the so-called hydrogen economy, it could reclaim number 1 position.

These excellent animated graphs were put together by the team at Creative Nurds, who have some other goodies on their website too.

The first animated graph above shows installed solar generation in megawatts, while the animated graph below shows solar generation in kilowatt hours per capita.

Please let us know if the animation does not work in your browser and we will try to fix.

Source: Creative Nurds.

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  1. Dean C 10 months ago

    Great animations! Thanks for sharing, Giles.

  2. Seriously...? 10 months ago

    Well you’d hope we get overtaken, or other countries are dragging their feet. On the other hand, with our potential, we should be beating them all.

  3. JackD 10 months ago

    Given our Solar Insolation Levels we should be leading the pack.. What’s holding us back? Just these things:

    Our Tyranny of Distance and our sparsely populated arid areas (which exhibit greater levels of insolation)
    Insufficient or Lack of Transmission
    Federal Government RE Policy
    Apparent Disproportionate influence within Government by Legacy Fuel Lobby Groups and Like minded Media
    Resistance to Change by our some of our Energy Regulator(s)


  4. rob 10 months ago


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