Solar Energy Facts (Australia)

Solar Energy Facts (Australia)

The Australian Government has been working to increase solar energy uptake from as early as 2001 through the Mandatory Renewable Energy Target (MRET) scheme. The MRET has since been merged with the state and territory targets to form RET that currently consists of the Small-scale Renewable Energy Scheme (SRES) and the Large-scale Renewable Energy Target (LRET).

With the SRES in place, solar uptake has seen a marked increase in Australian households. Some of the solar energy facts of the Australian Clean Energy Council’s (CEC’s) annual assessment report of 2011 are as listed below and they paint an encouraging picture:

Solar Energy Facts

  • On an average, per square metre solar radiation availability in Australia is the highest in the world.
  • The biggest solar plant in Australia has a capacity of 3MW and is located at Liddel in New South Wales. The plant uses modern thermal concentrators.
  • The University of Queensland’s St. Lucia Campus has Australia’s largest photovoltaic power plant with an installed capacity of 1.2 MW.
  • The Australian government has also projected a 20% replacement of the total energy consumption with solar power by the year 2020.
  • Approximately 9.6% of total electricity consumption in Australia was contributed by renewable energy sources compared to an 8.7% in the previous year.
  • Electricity prices have increased by more than 30% in the last four years in Australia. More people are looking at cheaper, renewable sources of energy in the longer term.
  • The CEC’s List of Accredited Designers/Installers has more than 4000 entries now. This growth is six times of what it was three years ago.
  • By the year 2020, 4% to 7% of the Australian household energy bill will be due to renewable energy.
  • More than 6% of Australian households have solar power systems.
  • The number of houses with solar panels has increased 35 times in the last three years.
  • The cost of solar power is on a downward trend and is expected to cost as much as conventional electricity nearing 2015.
  • The annual capacity of solar power installed in Australia approximately equals 540 MW with the largest installed capacity in New South Wales.
  • People including the retired citizens are evincing interest in installing and using solar power all over the country.
Some Interesting Solar Energy Facts Related to Australia

  • There is enough roof space area available in Australia to meet the continent’s electricity demand through solar power.
  • Solar energy can form the continent’s largest energy source if harnessed effectively.
  • Solar energy falling on Australia is approximately 15,000 times more than the energy consumption of the continent.

Benefits of Solar Energy

The Australian energy demand is expected to increase as much as 50% by the year 2020. The estimated energy investment to cater to this projected growth is a staggering AUD 37 billion.

This is also likely to degrade the living standards in terms of the amount of emissions. The key to managing this challenge effectively is to tap the abundant renewable solar energy that is available in the country.

 The benefits of using solar energy are as follows:

  • It is a clean source of energy and is becoming more affordable.
  • Solar energy avoids depletion of natural resources.
  • Poisonous gas emissions are greatly reduced when solar energy is used.
  • Solar energy usage reduces import of fossil fuels.
  • It also reduces dependence on nuclear energy.
  • Water consumption is greatly reduced by changing over to solar energy.
  • There is no waste generation when solar power is used.
  • It does not cause any noise pollution.
  • As no pollutants are generated, costs involved in complying with environmental regulations can be avoided.
  • Solar energy helps to improve the rural economy.

Solar Power Technologies

Solar power can be generated directly or indirectly. The light energy from the sun is directly converted into electricity using photovoltaic cells that are connected together in modules. This is the basis of photovoltaics. Indirect conversion is accomplished by concentrating solar energy with the help of lenses or mirrors and tracking systems. In concentrated solar power systems, sunlight over a vast area is concentrated into a small beam. The heat so generated is then utilised for a traditional power plant. There are different technologies that are available for concentrating sunlight. These include the parabolic trough, Stirling dish, linear Fresnel reflector, etc.

Photovoltaic cells make use of solar cells to produce DC power. This DC power is converted to AC power using inverters and connected to the household electricity line as stand-alone systems. Alternately, it can be connected to the national electricity grid using grid-feed inverters.

Benefits of Using Solar Power in Australia

Australian consumers now have the opportunity to save thousands of dollars by installing and using solar power systems. In a bid to encourage use of solar power, the Australian government has introduced various rebates and incentives for households and small businesses as well as large scale commercial power systems. Some details are given below:

Solar Credits Program

This program covers both grid-connect and off-grid power systems. Solar credits apply to the first 1.5kW installed capacity of a grid connected solar power system. Credits are also available to off-grid systems. Solar credit multipliers are issued for the first 20kW capacity of the eligible installations.

Renewable Energy Certificates (RECs)

RECs are available with the purchase of equipment for solar power generation. These certificates can be traded in the certificate market for cash. The demand for these certificates is created by retailers for whom it is mandatory to buy and sell a specified number of credits every year.

Feed-in Tariffs

If a grid-connect solar power system is used, premium rates for the electricity generated is paid by the Australian government to the consumer.

Tax Incentives

A business in Australia can claim a tax rebate if it has a solar energy system installed in the premises.

The Australian government also offers a substantial grant of AUD 50,000 for any school in Australia that installs a grid-connected solar power system in its premises. Community buildings in Australia receive heavy subsidies for installing grid-connected or off-grid solar power systems.

Category: Solar Articles

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