A Surprisingly Strong Year For Solar In Australia

  • Published on February 16th, 2017

Originally published on CleanTechnica
by Joshua S Hill

Despite initial assumptions that 2016 would be a poor year for solar development in Australia, new research from an Australian solar consultancy highlights several trends which show 2016 was nevertheless a record-breaking year for solar.

SunWiz, an Australian solar consultancy, published its 2016 Year In Review report this week, which “gathers the full solar PV market data of 2016 and transforms it into a powerful, insightful and strategically crucial document for any solar business” and puts it behind a pay-wall. As such, the few highlights available to me are provided by a blog post published by SunWiz.

Looked at from one perspective, solar installations dropped in 2016, down to 839 megawatts (MW) — made up of 87 MW worth of large-scale and 752 MW worth of sub-100 kilowatt (kW) systems.

However, it’s important to look closely at the Australian solar market, because on the surface of things, it would appear that Australia didn’t install much solar in 2016. However, that is due to the lack of large-scale solar installations, especially following several strong years in which large-scale solar projects were completed in Nyngan, Broken Hill, and Moree. Nevertheless, as SunWiz point out, “if we exclude systems exceeding 20 MW … there was actually significant growth.”

As can be seen in the graph below, 2016 was a phenomenally successful year for solar installations in the sub-20 MW category, including massive growth in the 5 MW to 20 MW category, with the completion of projects in Mugga Lane, Williamsdale, and Dugrussa (Sandfire).

Another interesting development in 2016 was the progress made by commercial systems in the 10-100 kW range. Though it started off slowly in 2016, it nevertheless finished strongly with a record 27 MW installed in December alone.

Australia became a key market for battery sales globally in 2016, with 5% of new solar PV systems including energy storage in 2016. While there was a significant number of battery residential installations, SunWiz is quick to point out that there was a record of 11 megawatt-hours of major energy storage projects installed in 2016.

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