Australia: 750,000 homes install 1.7 GW

The Australian solar market remains active and demonstrates continued growth, particularly in the residential rooftop market, where almost ten percent of all homes now feature photovoltaic arrays. Figures from the Australian Clean Energy Regulator shows that while the rate of installation has slowed from 2011, after most states wound up their FIT schemes, current trends indicate that 600 megawatts (MW) is set to be added in 2012. The forecast for the next year is that more than a million homes will have installed photovoltaics, with a capacity of over 2.3 GW.

In a recent presentation, Sydney-based pioneering photovoltaic researcher Martin Green said that figures show that per head of population, Australia has as much installed capacity as Germany. Average system sizes are around 2.84 kW, but with changes to FIT programs, the Sustainable Energy Association (SEA) believes that system sizes will not continue to grow.

Queensland remains the state with the most installed capacity with 474 MW, with New South Wales not far behind with 436 MW. Queensland was one of the last states to wind back its FIT tariff, with the election of its new conservative government, however it has been praised by the SEA for giving installers and households approximately 12 months to transition to the new system.

While the Clean Energy Regulator figures appear to show that the residential market in Australia is continuing to flourish, the utility-scale market in Australia is starting to develop. A 10 MW project in Western Australia is currently being installed and the photovoltaic component of the federal government’s 150 MW Solar Flagships program is also moving forward.