Australia’s booming commercial and industrial solar market could deliver a large-scale power plant’s worth of new renewable generation capacity to the grid in 2018, the head of the Clean Energy Regulator has projected.
Speaking at the Smart Energy Conference in Sydney on Tuesday, CER executive general manager, Mark Williamson, said a boom in solar installations of between 100kW and 1MW was well underway, and could deliver more than 100MW of cumulative capacity this year.
That astounding growth – illustrated by the “j-shaped” curve in the chart above – shows a market that has soared from a total of around 10MW just two years ago, to “who knows where” by the end of 2018, as more and more businesses embrace solar as a way to hedge soaring energy costs.
“Two years ago … I said that (the C&I solar sector) was a great business opportunity… and that it could be putting on, cumulatively, a large-scale renewable power station every year,” he told the conference.
“This year we’re going to see this happen for the first time, and this will make a difference to liquidity.
“It’s really taking off in a j-shape. Already … the capacity in applications for commercial and industrial sized systems between 100kW and 1MW … is going to smash last year,” Williamson said.
“But at this stage it’s looking like it could very well go well over 100MW cumulative capacity this year, and probably about 500 applications.
“(And) by the shape of this chart, who knows where this might finish up this year – it may go well beyond that; and where it might land next year.
“So I think this might provide more LGC liquidity that no one is factoring in,” he said.
“Everyone is underestimating the pace of what’s happening in the large-scale renewable energy pipeline, and the liquidity in LGCs moving forward.”
Sophie is editor of OneStepOffTheGrid.com.au and deputy editor of its sister site, RenewEconomy.com.au. Sophie has been writing about clean energy for more than a decade.