Australian commercial market hits new high

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As the Australian solar market completes its transition from a feed-in tariff driven market to one based on the economic competitiveness of PV, the commercial rooftop sector continues to thrive. Figures released today from Green Energy Markets reveal that commercial installations hit an all time monthly high in July, with the residential rooftop market remaining stable.

16,762 kW of commercial rooftop PV, defined as being arrays larger than 10 kW, were installed in July, with 51,819 kW of residential PV being installed. This brings annual totals to 76,814 kW for commercial PV for the year on top of 271,371 kW of residential.

The northeast state of Queensland led solar installations for July, with 31.5% market share, followed by the populous southeastern states of New South Wales (22.7%) and Victoria (21.8%).

Average Australian PV system size stands at 4.6 kW. Distributed generation installation capacity for the country for the first six months of 2015 totals almost 417 MW.

Of the large commercial project highlights for July were four Ikea installations across three states, each with capacities around the 700 kW range, and a series of food processing, winery and public building projects.

The Weipa Solar Farm in Queensland, with a capacity of 1.7 MW and the Nygnan Solar Plant in New South Wales, worth 102 MW, were also completed in the quarter.

The news of the commercial rooftop uptick comes one day after solar brokerage and project developer Solar Choice reached financial close on Australia’s largest school array. At 600 kW, the Amaroo School project has been in development since 2014 and will be more than two-and-a-half times bigger than the next closest school rooftop array.

The Amaroo School is located in the Australian Capital Territory and will be developed under the territory’s solar feed-in tariff program. A animation outlining the project can be accessed here.

“With very large north sloping skillion roofs on young buildings, the Amaroo School premises seem almost architecturally designed for photovoltaics,” said Solar Choice Managing Direcor Angus Gemmell. “The array will be a majestic and inspirational example of clean energy for multiple generations of Canberra students.”

Financing has been provided by VivoPower, a subsidiary of Arowana Capital. The project is set to be completed by the end of year, with installation being carried out by a local supplier. The project will deploy Canadian Solar modules and SMA inverters.

Solar Choice itself is continuing to develop its prospective Bulli Creek PV power plant project. Recently it announced that it was partnering with global cleantech giant SunEdison on the project that has land and grid capacity available to reach 2 GW in size on completion.

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