IEEFA reports that even as protests against renewable energy projects gather momentum before the federal elections, Australia has quietly passed a major solar milestone, notching up 25GW of installed capacity – more PV per capita than anywhere else in the world. That’s a huge achievement for a country that has been pilloried for its massive exports of coal, villain no.1 among polluting fuels, where Australia is also number 1. This duality is something Australia looks set to maintain, in the form of ever higher green energy at home while exporting polluting coal to the rest of the world, thanks to a combination of geography and economics.
More than 3 million Australian households and businesses now have solar panels-ABC News
Coal exports remain critical to sustain jobs at home, even as green energy, particularly solar, is becoming a favoured option thanks to lower costs and plenty of land and sunshine on the continent sized country.
The latest achievement on overall solar capacity per capita was notched up during 2021, as per the Australian PV Institute, or APVI. By the beginning of 2022, Australia’s cumulative tally had in fact jumped to 26.9GW. In a country of just under 26 million people, that’s a huge achievement. To compare, India would need over 1350 GW of solar, to get to the same level of per capita solar capacity. India is currently at about 50 GW. Australia also leads the world on rooftop solar penetration at over 30% of all homes, and per capita rooftop solar by extension.
The milestone caps off a record-breaking year for solar in Australia in 2021, when a total of 5.2GW of PV was installed over the course of the year.
Of this amount, a record of more than 3GW – 3.24GW – was installed on rooftops, by households and businesses, despite a second round of Covid 19 chaos and increasingly strong global solar market headwinds.
At the bigger end of the scale, utility-scale solar notched up its own new record in December, when generation levels surpassed 1,000GWh in a month for the first time to reach a total of 1,263GWh.
Small- and large-scale solar projects combined to meet 13.3 per cent of Australia’s total electricity demand over the course of the year, according to recent Climate Council analysis. To maintain its energy exporting status in a post fossil fuel world, the country is also building some ambitious power export projects that would use green energy to generate power for export, besides green hydrogen manufacture for export again.