Commercial solar is rapidly ramping up in Australia with nearly 25% of new solar capacity being installed for businesses generating onsite energy, according to the Clean Energy Finance Corporation (CEFC), the financing arm of the Clean Energy Council.
Australia has more than 4GW of installed rooftop solar PV, but despite residential systems accounting for the majority of that capacity, commercial scale installations are significantly increasing. The CEFC expects the trend to continue, as more businesses begin to experience operating cost advantages by using solar.
Speaking at the Australian Solar Council’s ‘Solar 2015’ conference, CEFC chief executive Oliver Yates said the CEFC is supporting the rising commercial solar market by financing use of solar across a range of industries and working with project proponents, major utilities and retailers to expand the range of solar finance options.
The CEFC is considering more than AUS$500 million in finance for solar projects totalling more than AUS$1 billion in value.
Yates said improved battery technology could be a “game changer” for commercial solar, as it helps with reliability of supply.
He added: “Solar homes typically use solar for about 30% of their electricity needs. With battery storage, this could be boosted to over 70%, an indication of the scale of the potential benefits for commercial solar. Solar with storage can also reduce the reliance on diesel-fired generators in remote areas.”
Referencing utility-scale solar becoming increasingly competitive in overseas markets with record breaking bids being achieved for new projects in the US, UK, Dubai and South Africa, Yates said the cost of solar will continue to fall.
CEFC’s support for Australia’s commercial solar market comes straight after more disruption in the ongoing saga over the country’s Renewable Energy Target (RET) this week.
The Coalition Party had announced that an agreement to reduce the target to 33,000GWh, down from 41,000GWH, had been reached with the Labor Party. However, yesterday the Labor Party backed away from the deal due to the inclusion of two-yearly reviews and wood waste from native forests. It has been claimed that the reviews are responsible for stifling investment and killing jobs in the solar industry.
In January PV Tech reported that Chinese module manufacturer ET Solar received a loan of AUS$20 million (US$16.2 million) from CEFC for its push in the Australian commercial rooftop market.
At the time, Dennis She, chief executive of ET Solar Group said the financing would be used to help large energy consumers in industries such as mining, shopping centres and manufacturing to reduce their electricity costs.