After what has seemed like a slow start, Australia is now emerging as a leader in rooftop solar installations. Part of the reason is that, around the world, the cost of solar panels has been dropping dramatically. When you combine this fact with rising electricity costs and abundant sunshine hours in Australia, it adds up to a promising situation for the future of solar power in the sunburnt country.
The deployment of solar photovoltaics (solar panels) has rocketed 6,900 percent in Australia in the past 5 years, according to REneweconomy. Last year, Australia installed more small-scale rooftop solar panel systems on households than Germany (795MW vs 759MW). That’s really saying something, because Germany has been a leader in the development of solar power for years now. When it comes to solar power, most of the rest of the world has a lot of catching up to Germany to do.
The overall percentage of solar to fossil fuel-based electricity generation is still very low, so there is plenty of room for huge growth in the sector. The Australian Energy Markets Operator has said that Australia could have between 12,000MW to 18,000MW of solar PV by 2030. This estimate may not be allowing for the exponential growth of solar technology (around the world, not just in Australia), that many exponential technology trend watchers expect.
The Australian government’s forecasting body has already said that it expects solar to be the cheapest of all available technologies by 2030. This could well turn out to be quite a conservative forecast in terms of timeframe.
To me, the situation is reminiscent of back in the late 90s and turn of the century, when a reasonably small percentage of households had Internet broadband connections in Australia, but that situation was to change dramatically over the next decade.
When do you think sunny Australia could reach the milestone of having a majority of households with solar panels installed?