Survey of Energy Resources 2007
Solar Country Notes
Solar PV is one of the best established renewable technologies in Australia, with over three decades of technology and market development behind it. The overall market expanded by 15.8% in 2005, bolstered by government grant programmes for rooftop applications and off-grid diesel replacement, with the grid-connected segment growing 29% and off-grid capacity by 14%. Australia's well-established non-domestic off-grid PV market in industrial, agricultural and commercial applications, such as telecommunications, signalling, water pumping, electric fences and cathodic protection, continued to be the largest sector of the PV market, accounting for 41% of capacity additions in 2005 and 55% of cumulative installations. At end-2005, installed PV power was 60 581 kWp, of which 18 768 kWp was off-grid domestic, 33 073 kWp off-grid non-domestic, 6 860 kWp grid-connected distributed and 1 880 kWp grid-connected centralised.
The Australian Government provides support for solar energy applications through a number of programmes. Two of particular relevance to photovoltaics are summarised below.
The aim of the Photovoltaic Rebate Program (PVRP) is to encourage the installation of PV systems in residential and community buildings. A reported
1 042 systems were installed in 2005, amounting to 1.55 MW; 65% of installations, accounting for 73% of installed capacity, were on grid-connected buildings and a total of AUD 4.2 million was allocated in rebates. Since the start of the programme in 2000, over 7 600 systems, amounting to 9.5 MWp have been installed and grants of more than AUD 34 million have been provided. PVRP is funded by the Australian Government, with administration by the State Governments.
The aims of the Remote Renewable Power Generation Program (RRPGP) are to increase the use of renewable energy for power generation in off-grid areas, to reduce diesel use, to assist the Australian renewable energy industry, to assist in meeting the infrastructure needs of indigenous communities and to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.
Each State has established a slightly different programme, to meet the specific needs of local off-grid applications. However, in general, the target groups are indigenous and other small communities, commercial operations, including pastoral properties, tourist facilities and mining operations, water pumping and isolated households that operate within diesel grids or use direct diesel generation. Core funding for this programme is provided to the States by the Australian Government, on the basis of diesel fuel excise duty collected from public generators not connected to main electricity grids. Grants are available for up to 50% of the capital cost of renewable energy systems replacing the use of diesel. The programme is administered by the State Governments, with additional funding provided by some States, and will extend to 2009/2010, although some States may expend their allocations before then.
A specific allocation of AUD 8 million has been made to the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Commission (ATSIC) for the Bushlight Programme to assist with the development of industry capability and local understanding of renewable energy systems in indigenous communities.
In 2005, 2.08 MW of PV capacity was installed under RRPGP, bringing the cumulative total under the programme to 5.35 MW. Although RRPGP is not PV specific, almost all the small systems installed to date include a PV element. The overall programme has funds of some AUD 205 million allocated to it, of which AUD 141 million had been committed by the end of 2005.