Australia’s solar energy resources are among the best in the world, with high levels of solar radiation and considerable land-mass suitable for large-scale solar developments. With more than 35% of country’s land-mass having arid or semi-arid climate including around 20% deserts, solar radiation per square meter in Australia is higher than any other continent. That is why Australia is eyeing to tap these huge and inexhaustible resources to generate substantial proportion of electricity so that it can improve its position from being one of the highest per capita emitter of greenhouse gases. But despite this comparative advantage, the share of solar power based electricity output in Australia still is half the OECD average. The cost of materials and installation, the difficulties in storing solar energy, and the need for substantial additional infrastructure are impediments to the expansion of the industry. However, advances in solar technology and reductions in cost are likely to see the percentage of solar energy increase over coming decades.
Solar PV installations in Australia are mainly categorized according to the size of PV based generation systems – small scale with system size maximum 100 kW, medium scale with system size between 100 kW and 1 MW and large scale with system size over 1 MW. Small scale installations dominate Australia’s solar energy sector with total installed capacity of more than 500 MW till June 2016 followed by approximately300 MW of large scale (solar system installed capacity over 1 MW) solar PV projects and 8 MW of medium scale (solar PV system sized between 100 kW and 1 MW in terms of installed capacity).
A large majority of the solar PV systems generating electricity in Australia are roof-top installations in residential buildings with system size below 100 kW. The country has the highest number of residential roof-top solar PV systems and these systems form the major element of solar energy sector in Australia. As in September 2016, there are about 1.58 Million small scale solar PV installations in homes throughout Australia. In recent years, large scale solar PV installations also have grown substantially.
Solar PV technology and battery energy storage system (BESS) – these two are going to complement to each other for market expansion. As of now, about 30% of the households having roof-top solar PV systems have battery energy storage systems are also integrated. But as the essence of energy storage is becoming more evident to the households particularly for those using solar power, more installations of battery based storage system is going to make major gain in next five years. More than 50% of the future installations of solar PV systems are likely to come with storage system thus growth in solar energy sector is directly creating a market for BESS which is substantial and has enormous potential to grow further.