The start of the year saw record numbers of rooftop solar installations and large scale solar farm approvals in New South Wales and Queensland, prompting many to forecast a giant solar boom in the years ahead.
But beyond these visible markers, what is really happening beneath the surface of Australia’s solar industry; and what supply and demand trends can we expect to see in the next decade?
With $2 billion worth of funding and more than 300 renewable energy projects already under its belt, the Australian Renewable Energy Agency (ARENA) is arguably well placed to make such predictions.
Since its inception in 2012, the Commonwealth Government agency has supported a diverse range of renewable energy projects from early research, right through to utility scale deployment; with a strong track record in helping to bring projects to commercialisation.
As well as investing more than $1 billion in renewable energy projects, ARENA has helped unlock a further $2.8 billion in private sector investment; and has been instrumental in accelerating the growth of Australia’s solar sector.
Ian Kay is ARENA’s Chief Financial Officer and is due to deliver a keynote presentation at the Large Scale Solar Conference – 27-28 June in Sydney.
Ahead of his keynote at the conference he touched on some of the sector’s recent developments and what activity he anticipates in the coming years.
“Over the last 3-4 years, as well as roof top solar, we have seen large scale solar really become an important and growing part of the overall energy mix of Australia”, said Mr. Kay.
“In terms of funding, we have seen an overall reduction in public sector reliance and a decrease in capital costs for projects. Initially they were sitting at around $2.50 per watt; now they are just south of $1.30 per watt. This marks really positive news for the sector”.
Mr. Kay has observed an increase in demand, particularly in the mining, industrial and commercial sectors, with an influx of corporate PPAs beginning to emerge; and declared his willingness to provide support to these industries.
Looking to the future, he welcomes projects across the innovation chain, highlighting the likes of Laing O’Rourke, who are currently working with relocatable solar panels for use on remote sites.
He also highlights Australia’s global advantage in renewable power generation and hopes to see more initiatives which promote international export opportunities.
Ian Kay will expand on these insights at the Large Scale Solar Conference, due to take place 27-28 June in Sydney.