Due to its location and its lack of interference on the world stage, Australia’s rather impressive integration of solar technology has gone largely unnoticed. However, under the radar, Australia actually had a record-breaking year in 2016 when it came to the construction of major solar projects, a trend that shows no sign of slowing down.
In 2016, seven large solar projects were completed and even more than that number are expected to be built in 2017. The industry is one of the fastest growing in the world with an abundance of advantages on offer, namely those of economical and environmental, the technology is consistently becoming cheaper and closing the gap on its renewable rival of wind power.
Clean Energy Council CEO Kane Thornton said it was “a record year” for large-scale solar, which could soon overtake wind as the cheapest form of renewable energy, thanks to rapid advances in technology.
“Already this year in 2017, we’ve had over a dozen projects committed and now moving onto construction,” he said.
“The costs of large scale solar has halved in just the last few years here in Australia.
The boom in Australian solar energy has always been expected, given their abundance of sunlight all year round; however, this is coming even quicker than the most optimistic of experts could have predicted.
Ivor Frischknecht, who heads the Australian Renewable Energy Agency (ARENA) — the agency that delivers Federal Government funding for renewable projects — said “A couple of years ago we analysed the market and thought that by the early 2020s we might be able to get there, to be cost competitive with wind.”
“But in fact we’re there already — we’re seeing large scale solar projects happen without any support.”
An example of one of Australia’s newest and largest solar farms is in ‘Moore’ and provides an example as to the natural opportunities available to the southern hemisphere country. Moore is a town with a population of just 10’000 people in the north of New South Wales and the summer of 2016/17 saw an incredible 54 consecutive days of 35+ degrees Celsius.
Initially the farm was anticipated and scheduled to be the largest in Australia, however, it had to downsize due to a lack of funding from the invested private company.
“Yes it was ground-breaking, yes it was heart-wrenching, yes for one reason or another, our solar farm was going to be the biggest solar farm out in Australia,” Ms Humphries, the town Mayor said.
Ms Humphries said there was a great deal of community support for the project — especially in light of the summer they have just had.
Australia has a target to reach 23% of its energy being renewable by the early 2020’s, a goal they are well on target to achieve.
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