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AUSTRALIA 39

AUSTRALIA
PHOTOVOLTAIC TECHNOLOGY STATUS AND PROSPECTS
DR MURIEL WATT, IT POWER AUSTRALIA

Fig. 1 - Flexible Dyesol PV panel (photo Dyesol).

GENERAL FRAMEWORK NATIONAL PROGRAMME


The photovoltaics sector in Australia has been through large changes Australian Government support programs impacted significantly on
over the past year, with many changes in support mechanisms, in the 2008 and 2009 PV markets. Key programmes are described below.
the local industry base and in the market. Important grant schemes The majority of support was focussed on small systems (i.e. less than
for small-scale and off-grid PV applications have ended, while new 10 kWp, and mostly less than 2 kWp), with the exception of the newly
mechanisms including State and Territory based feed-in tariffs, announced Solar Flagship program (50-250 MWp) and the ACT feed-
large-scale solar generation programs and R&D support have been in tariff (up to 30 kWp).
introduced.
Solar Homes and Communities Program (SHCP)
At the industry level, local PV cell and module manufacture ceased The SHCP aimed to accelerate the uptake of PV for residential and
in early 2009, while a record number of overseas manufactured community buildings and to develop the local industry. It had the
modules have now entered the local market. The grid-connect market most impact on the PV market in Australia during 2008 and 2009,
has continued to grow strongly, with associated growth in installer providing rebates up to AUD 8 000 for 1 kWp of PV installed on
accreditation. Over 3 000 people now work in the PV sector, not residential buildings and up to 50 % of the cost of PV systems up
including government agencies and researchers. to 2 kWp installed on community buildings. Uptake rates increased
significantly when rebates were increased from AUD 4 000 to
The public perception of PV remains positive and, as prices have AUD 8 000 per kWp in 2007, despite the imposition of a means test.
fallen and support programs and climate change issues better 84 MWp were installed between March 2000 and December 2009.
understood, uptake has increased strongly. Rooftop PV systems are The majority of this (79 MWp) was for grid-connected installations.
increasingly being offered as a standard option by many builders, The program ended in June 2009, although there is a year's backlog
while local governments are beginning to address solar access and of installations, and was replaced by the Solar Credit mechanism.
development approval processes.
40 IEA - PVPS ANNUAL REPORT 2009

Solar Credits closed early. Applications will reopen in 2010. Most schools are
The Australian Government has expanded the Renewable Energy installing PV systems of 2 to 4 kWp, with the program expected to
Target (RET) to 45 000 GWh by 2020. This is expected to increase the result in the installation of 20-40 MWp of PV by 2015. This program
amount of renewable generation from current levels of around 8 % will increase awareness and understanding of PV as students move
of total generation to 20 % by 2020. The RET will continue to use the through the school system, and will also increase community
Renewable Energy Certificate (REC) mechanism, with each MWh knowledge and acceptance levels.
of renewable energy generation eligible for one REC. REC multipliers,
or Solar Credits, are available to PV systems, wind turbines and micro- Solar Flagships
hydro systems for the first 1,5 kWp of capacity, as shown below. In 2009 the Australian Government announced a call for 1 GW of
Output from capacity above 1,5 kWp is eligible for 1 REC per MWh. solar generation via 4 solar thermal and PV power stations. 1,3 BAUD
As well as homeowners, other organisations such as schools, has been allocated, with funding available to cover up to one third
community groups, businesses and developers, who were previously of the capital cost. Proposals are expected to include PV companies,
ineligible under the Solar Homes and Communities plan, are eligible electricity retailers, State and local governments, financial institutions
for Solar Credits, with no means test applied. and research partners. Initial bids for one PV and one solar thermal

From
YEAR 2009-10 2010-11 2011-12 2012-13 2013-14 2014-15 2015-16 onwards

SOLAR
CREDITS 5 5 5 4 3 2 No multiplier
MULTIPLIER

Renewable Remote Power Generation Program (RRPGP) power station, with a total capacity of 400 MWp are due mid
The RRPGP provided rebates of up to 50 % of the capital cost of February and will be shortlisted prior to the development of detailed
renewable energy and related components used for diesel displacement proposals. A second call for another two power stations will be made
in stand-alone power systems. It operated from 2000 to 2009 with in 2013-14. Favourable consideration will be given to proposals
a budget of 300 MAUD. Typical applications included off-grid households, which include local industry development, so interest is high in
indigenous communities, community organisations, retail/roadhouses, potential local component manufacture. All projects must include
tourism sites, pastoral stations and other off-grid business and research programs, with funding up to 400 MAUD available for
government facilities. research infrastructure.

The program operated under a number of sub-programs, including R & D, D


water pumping, industry support, Bushlight and major projects, some Government expenditure on PV research, development, demonstration
of which are administered via State Government agencies. In 2008, and market incentives totalled 117,91 MAUD in 2008. Australian
AUD 980 000 was provided from the Industry Support component Government market incentive programs accounted for 88 % of
of the RRPGP for 64,9 kWp of PV in the new Alice Springs Desert expenditure.
Knowledge Australia Solar Centre where a range of different PV systems
and configurations are being monitored and tested. Demonstration
The Desert Knowledge Australia Solar Centre (www.dkasolarcentre.com.au)
In 2008 a total of 2 472 kWp of PV was installed in remote residences is an 3,1 MAUD initiative of Desert Knowledge Australia that
and 1 080 kWp in non-residential systems. A total of 36,7 MAUD was showcases and demonstrates a range of solar power technologies
provided in rebates. In total 11,92 MW of PV had been installed under from different manufacturers and suppliers in commercial-scale
RRPGP to end 2008. installations. These installations provide meaningful and accurate
comparisons of the performance of the technologies' in the arid
The National Solar Schools Program (NSSP) environment of Central Australia, improving the knowledge base for
The 480 MAUD NSSP commenced on 1 July 2008 and finishes on solar initiatives globally. Funding has been provided via the RRPGP.
30 June 2015. It offers grants of up to AUD 50 000 per school to
install PV and other renewable power systems, solar hot water The Australian Solar Institute
systems, rainwater tanks and a range of energy efficiency measures In 2009, the Australian Solar Institute was established with funding
including insulation, energy efficient lighting and ceiling fans. Some of 100 MAUD over 4 years to foster concentrating solar thermal and
State Governments offer additional funding focussed on PV and some PV R&D and to accelerate commercial deployment. A first round call
have arranged central purchasing as a means of minimising cost. for R&D projects was made in 2009, with successful projects
The 2009-10 budget allocation was oversubscribed and applications commencing in 2010. 40 % of funding has been committed to core
AUSTRALIA 41

projects undertaken at the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial


Research Organisation, the University of NSW and the Australian
National University. Contestable funding is available for other basic
and applied R&D projects. The first 5 projects to be funded are:
• University of New South Wales: Development and Commercialisation
of High Efficiency Silicon Solar Cell Technology. 3,972 MAUD.
• University of Newcastle: Fabrication of Thermionic Devices Using
Directional Solidification / Sintering Processes for High Temperature
Concentrating Solar Thermal Applications. AUD 515 000.
• Australian National University: Plasmonics for high efficiency
Photovoltaic Solar Cells using nanotechnology to capture more
light. 1,67 MAUD.
• University of Queensland: New Materials and Architectures for
Organic Solar Cells - Beyond the Shockley-Queisser Limit.
AUD 945 000.
• CSIRO and the Australian National University: Advanced steam
generating receivers for high concentration solar collectors.
4,084 MAUD.

The NSW Energy Challenge


A new 5 MAUD international research prize has been announced by
the NSW Government to encourage innovative solutions in the
provision of clean energy. To be eligible for the prize, research teams
must have two essential partners - a NSW university and a company
with its headquarters in NSW.

IMPLEMENTATION
Feed-in Tariffs (FiTs)
A number of States and Territories have now introduced FiTs, although
only the Australian Capital Territory and the Alice Springs Solar City
offered gross FiTs. A gross FiT will commence in New South Wales
from 2010. Net export FiTs operate in Victoria, South Australia and
Queensland.

Solar Cities Fig. 2 - 305 kWp PV system on the Crowne Plaza at Alice Springs
(photo SunPower Corporation).
In 2008, the Solar Cities program saw two new Cities announced,
Moreland and Perth, expanding the Program to 7 Solar Cities. Four
Solar Cities were operational in 2008: Adelaide, Blacktown, Alice
Springs and Townsville, with 716 kW of PV installed. Central Victoria been installed at the Cadbury-Schweppes factory in Blacktown,
and Moreland Solar Cities began to roll out projects to their a 305 kWp system on the Crowne Plaza in Alice Springs and several
communities in 2009. 50 kWp systems for the Adelaide Solar City.

Alice Solar City provides a capital subsidy of up to 50 % for eligible Diesel Grids
householders to install a PV system. Householders are also able to The installation of PV in diesel grids is cost effective in many areas
sell all electricity generated to the Power and Water Corporation and of Australia. Western Australian electricity company Horizon Power
benefit from a gross feed-in tariff of AUD 45,76 c/kWh, capped at has commissioned SunPower to install 500 kWp of tracking PV on its
AUD 5 per day. diesel grids at Marble Bar and Nullagine, 1 500 km from Perth.
Flywheel storage systems will also be installed by Powercorp to
Ergon Energy is installing up to 1 MWp of PV on premises around optimise use of the PV output. The systems are expected to generate
Magnetic Island, as part of the Townsville Solar City project. over 1 GWh of electricity each year and save 35-40 % of the diesel
Residents can volunteer their roof space and Ergon will fully manage fuel used in the power stations.
installation and maintenance of the PV systems, as well as using the
electricity generated to reduce daytime peak load on the inland. INDUSTRY STATUS
The Solar Cities program is one of the few providing support for PV 42 MWp of cells were produced in Australia in 2008, from imported
systems in the commercial / industrial sector. A 100 kWp system has wafers, and 8 MWp of modules. Unfortunately, BP Solar, the only
42 IEA - PVPS ANNUAL REPORT 2009

Fig. 3 - Printing Press for Organic Solar Cell production (photo CSIRO).

commercial PV manufacturer in Australia, ceased production in early term, the residential market will be driven by the Solar Credit
2009. However, a number of other companies are interested in mechanism and gross feed-in tariffs, where available. In the longer
manufacture, with Silex having purchased the BP Solar plant and term, there will be a need to incorporate PV into building codes and
planning production from 2010. zero energy building targets. Interest is growing in the commercial
market, where daytime electricity use is growing fast and contributing
Selectronics Australia manufactures a range of inverters and to peak load problems. The market for central solar power plants will
released its SP PRO grid inverter in 2009, which can also be used in be stimulated by the Solar Flagships program. The important off-grid
back-up mode or as an inverter charger for stand-alone applications. market, where up-front capital costs of PV are a major barrier, is
The Latronics' PV Edge inverter is also designed and built in Australia. currently not well supported.
It offers a PV only, a PV- wind or micro-hydro option, or an
uninterruptible power supply option, which can be used with As PV penetration levels rise, maintaining high quality products
multiple energy sources and a battery bank. and installation standards will become more challenging, while grid
impacts will begin to signal the need for different grid management
MARKET DEVELOPMENT strategies.
A total of 22 MWp of PV were installed in Australia in 2008, an
80 % increase on 2007 levels. Of this, nearly 69 % was grid connected,
taking the cumulative grid connected portion to nearly 30 %, up from
19 % in 2007. Total installed capacity in Australia at the end of 2008
was 104 MW. Over 60 MW is estimated to have been installed in
2009 with even higher levels expected in 2010 in response to the
attractive PV prices, increasing electricity tariffs and new State and
Territory gross feed-in tariffs.

The high capital rebates, and the subsequent high PV uptake levels,
have seen a number of market innovations. One was the emergence
of bulk purchase and install schemes organised by both private
companies and local governments, whereby households signed up
for a low cost system, on the basis of sufficient local interest
(typically 50 homes) being shown. Bulk purchase of lower-cost
Chinese modules, combined with streamlined installations in a local
area allowed prices to fall considerably, (around AUD 9/Wp in 2008
compared with standard purchase costs of around AUD 12/Wp).
Prices continued to fall in 2009, in line with international market
trends and strong competition in the Australian market.

FUTURE OUTLOOK
With PV prices now reflecting the significant production cost
reductions which have occurred over the past decade, and with grid
electricity prices rising rapidly, PV grid parity is expected to be
reached in many areas of Australia within this decade. In the short