Big year predicted for solar and storage

The Climate Council is predicting a massive year ahead for solar power, based on its report, State of Solar 2016: Globally and in Australia. The study, which was released in February 2017, found that the costs of producing industrial-scale solar energy had fallen dramatically in recent years, making it cheaper in many countries to produce solar energy than to invest in new fossil and nuclear power projects.

With prices for solar energy falling 58 percent in five years, countries such as China, the United States and Japan are leading the world when it comes to adding large-scale solar technology to their energy mix. The Council’s findings also showed that energy storage technologies, such as batteries, are making solar and storage an attractive financial proposition for household solar power systems.

Globally, the report found that 2016 was a record year for solar, with over 70GW of new capacity added. This is a rise of around 40 percent on 2015 figures. This takes total global solar power capacity to around 300GW, enough to power 60 million homes.

The report also predicted a big year for solar power in Australia. It showed that, more than any other country, solar capacity has been driven by household solar, with Queensland and South Australia both vying for leadership as the state with the highest proportion of solar households.

While household solar has driven Australia’s solar market over the last decade, the study showed that there has been an increase in large-scale projects. Defined as installations of 1MW or more, large-scale solar “...are taking off on airports, mines, healthcare facilities and businesses,” according to the Council. The large solar PV installations will attract much needed investment. This is expected to occur in the regional centres, where the projects are located. They are also set to provide a cheap source of power to the electricity grid.

The report also points to more than 20 large-scale solar projects, totaling over 1GW in capacity with 3.7GW in the pipeline, as proof of its bullish estimation of Australian solar capacity. At this pace, it is possible that 1.1 million households could have solar and storage installed as a source of energy usage in homes by 2035.

Looking into the future, the report says over 6,500 Australian households had solar installed in 2016. This number is expected to triple this year. High power prices and falling battery costs are likely to drive more households to embrace household solar power and to make 2017 a boom year for solar and storage.

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