Sunny Australia’s solar uptake lags behind dreary UK’s

Queensland continues to remain the hot-spot for rooftop solar installations in Australia, accounting for much of the installs in the month of March, and showing an increase as falls were recorded in other states.

According to industry statistician SunWiz, around 71MW of rooftop solar was registered in March across the country. Again it was mostly residential rooftop solar, but there was also a growing amount of commercial rooftop, with more installations between 30kW and 100kW.

The March total puts Australia on track for a 2014 total of around 800MW, consistent with recent years, but just one third of what is anticipated in cloudy, drizzly UK.

Conservative estimates put the installation rate for UK in 2014 at around 2,500MW, although some industry forecasts expect more than 3,000MW to be installed this year.

According to solar research group NPD Solarbuzz, the UK could become the biggest solar market in Europe – overtaking Germany and one time leader Italy – mostly because of the rapid growth of megawatt-scale, ground mounted solar PV farms, and the release of a government-mandated target of 20GW for solar installs by 2020

Solarbuzz says that around 16 megawatt-scale solar farms are under construction, and more than 120 have recently received project-planning approval. Many of them are targeting completion within the next 12 months.

By the end of April 2014, more than 325 solar PV farms in the megawatt (MW) class were completed in the UK, with more than 60 different sites having an installed capacity in excess of 10 MW.

Australia, on the other hand, with some of the best solar resources in the world – has just one megawatt-scale ground mounted solar farm – the 10MW Greenough River facility in Western Australia, and only a handful in development.

Another project, the 20MW Royalla Solar Farm near Canberra, is nearing completion, and two more projects, a 13MW and a 7MW will begin later this year, while work has begun on the two AGL Solar Flagships projects in western NSW.

© 2014 Solar Choice Pty Ltd

Giles Parkinson