A staggering 3 GW of rooftop solar PV systems have been installed in Australia over the past few years. The figures were released by the Clean Energy Regulator, the organization tasked with the supervision of renewable energy projects in Australia.
Initially, the increase in the number of rooftop solar PV installations has been credited to solid support from the Australian Government. However, some believe that the solar industry has thrived by itself, even with the support from the federal states.
Rooftop solar PV subsidies no longer the driving force
Since rooftop solar PV installations began rolling out across the country, the Government has actually calibrated its support for renewable energy. In many instances it has reduced its subsidies left and right. This is right after the increase in demand which in turn resulted in the overall reduction of installation costs and solar panel prices that the industry experienced in the last five years or so.
The current Coalition Government also saw the end of the Renewable Energy Target which catered to the working class households, who are also after the many advantages that rooftop solar PV offer. This project was replaced by a modified and less progressive version by the Abbott Government and is now called the Direct Action Plan.
The increase in rooftop solar PV installations in the country occurred at a very favourable time as issues such as increasing electricity bills and global warming became the center of many political discussions.
Global warming and high electricity bills catalysts for solar boom
This led to the increase in research and development funding of projects that focus on renewable sources of energy, including solar power. Thus, the demand for rooftop solar PV increased even with the average households, although they were not the original target market for this technology.
Currently, solar power systems are very popular and support is coming not just from the residential market, but also from the commercial and industrial markets. Each of these sectors likes to take advantage of the reduction of monthly electricity bills that solar power offers.
Renewable energy capacities in the country from small-scale solar power systems are estimated to generate a total of 6,882 GWh of electricity every year. This capacity is equivalent to the power necessary to supply the demand of approximately 1.04 million households for one year.
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Solar power a clear winner within renewable energy industry
The fact is, statistics from the Clean Energy Authority reveal that currently, over 2 million small-scale renewable energy systems are already installed in Australia. Most of these installations are solar power systems, with more than 669,000 solar water heaters installed apart from the 3.1 GW’s of rooftop solar PV systems.
These small-scale solar power systems generated around 4.182 GWh of energy, while approximately 2,700 Wh of energy was displaced by solar water heaters, and air source heat pumps.
In contrast, wind power from small generator units generated about 1.4 MW in all the 377 installations in the country. Only around 22 kW output were generated by SGU’s using hydro sources.