3 GW of Rooftop Solar in 2020, And a Grid Headache for Australia

Australia, after a reluctant embrace of renewable energy initially, has practically broken down the door for renewable energy now. The world’s largest coal exporter is racing to build solar, sometimes faster than the grids can keep up.

The Clean Energy Regulator, the government entity tasked with tracking and administering renewable incentives, among other things, has come out with its Q2 (Jun 2020) report, and the picture is way better than expected. The key findings?

  • 6.3 gigawatts (GW) of total renewable energy capacity is expected to be delivered this year, matching the record set in 2019.
  • Small-scale rooftop solar PV installation and capacity accelerated further in Quarter 2 2020 and exceeded expectations with an estimated 677 megawatts (MW) installed. This is a 41 per cent increase on the installed capacity for Quarter 2 2019.
  • Our previous estimate of 2.7 GW of rooftop solar PV for 2020 is now likely to be exceeded and reach 2.9 GW of installations.
  • 2 GW capacity of large-scale renewable projects has now been accredited for the year to date and expected to reach 3.4 GW for the calendar year.

The numbers indicate just one part of the boom rooftop solar is experiencing in the continent sized country.  A generous menu of incentives across different states has ensured that the solar rooftop boom has not been impacted by the Covid-19 pandemic at all.

So much so that now, the problem is on the other side. Grid management. The country’s discoms  and regulators now face a race against time to ensure their grids, rules, and standards can keep up with the growth in solar rooftop supplies.

The rooftop success has meant that Australia is on course to better India in actual installations this year. Not just that, its success specifically with rooftop solar is in stark contrast to India’s abject surrender there, with not even a full GW looking like a possibility this year in rooftop solar, for instance.

Rooftop incentives in Australia have included tools like Small Scale Solar Energy Certificates (STC’s), feed in tariffs,   Energy storage grants, and even interest free loans, depending on the state you are in. Each of these alone, or sometimes in combination, can take almost 50 percent off the cost of a solar rooftop or rooftop + storage system. That has meant not just wider adoption, but also a focus on quality PERC modules for instance.

The STC model deserves a separate story in itself, though you will find a lot more information on it at both government owned sites and investment sites in Australia, thanks to the compelling financial case they make.

 

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Prasanna Singh

Prasanna Singh

Prasanna has been a media professional for over 20 years. He is the Group Editor of Saur Energy International

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