Australia begins 2014 with almost 3.1GW of rooftop PV

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Australia ended last year with over 1.6 million PV systems installed on rooftops, representing almost 3.1GW cumulative capacity of rooftop solar power installed across the country.

In total, around 0.7GW was added in 2013, with the figure for installed rooftop capacity at the end of 2012 standing at around 2.4GW. At the end of 2011 around 1.3GW had been installed, meaning capacity has more than doubled in two years.

According to monthly figures published by Australia’s Clean Energy Regulator, as of 31 December 2013, there were 1,161,245 rooftop PV systems which made up a total of 3,096,067kW capacity installed. This figure includes 1,723 new systems, 7.5MW, installed in December, although December figures are provisional and widely expected to be revised upward for the regulator’s January statistics release.

At present, December figures show a sharp decline in new installations from the preceeding three months – in November around 44.7MW was installed, in October 61.9MW was added while September saw 55.9MW installed.

New systems are registered with the country’s Renewable Energy Target (RET) scheme, which is aimed at supplying 20% of Australia’s electricity from renewable sources by 2020. Australian prime minister Tony Abbot, who took office in September 2013, has made clear his intention to drastically cut spending on climate targets and highlighted the possibility of scrapping the RET, citing high consumer energy prices as a more eminent priority.

The Clean Energy Authority’s statistics show that more than two million small-scale renewable energy systems have been installed in the country to date. The majority of those are solar powered, with over 669,000 solar water heaters installed in addition to the 3.1GW of small scale PV plants. Small-scale solar generated 4,182GWh of energy output, while 2,700GWh of energy was displaced by solar water heaters and air source heat pumps. By contrast, installed capacity of wind by small generation units (SGU) stood at around 1.4MW across 377 installations and only 22kW rated output of hydro was generated by 15 SGUs.

Renewable energy capacity in Australia from small-scale renewable systems is enough to annually generate or displace a total of 6,882GWh of electricity, equivalent to the power required to meet the demand of around 1.04 million Australian homes for a year.

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