The Australian Photovotaic Institute (APVI, formerly APVA) is Australia’s oldest PV industry body devoted to the development of the solar PV industry in Australia. The APVI’s activities include industry research and acting as the host of numerous PV-related networking and educational events. Additionally, the APVI acts as Australia’s liaison with the International Energy Agency (IEA) for its PV Power Systems (IEA-PVPS) and Solar Heating and Cooling (SHC) programs, and as such has been charged with a number of tasks related to the propagation of solar PV technology in Australia through publicity and information dissemination.
What does the APVI do?
The APVI is regularly commissioned to undertake research about solar PV in Australia, about topics ranging from the effects of government policy on solar uptake, to the rating of solar modules based on climate. Some past and present research projects that the APVI has headed or is currently undertaking are:
–The National Survey Report of PV Power Applications in Australia (2012): The APVI was commissioned by the IEA to produce this ‘state of the PV industry’-style report, officially launched in late June 2013. The APVI has prepared this report annually since 1995.
–The effect of high PV concentration in electricity grids: A pertinent issue given Australia’s rapid grid-connected solar PV system growth in the past few years, the APVI is working to produce data that can be used to inform decision-making with regard to handling the future of the technology in Australia.
–Climate-based PV module ratings: Solar panel performance depends on the climate of the site in question. With the US NREL, the APVI is undertaking research to provide hard data on the impact of humidity, extreme heat, and other climate factors on the performance of different solar PV technologies.
–A Distributed Energy Market: Customer & utility attitudes to PV: The widespread and deep interest by consumers in PV is reducing utility revenue and putting pressure on their traditional business models. A Distributed Energy market is needed to allow utilities to adapt to the ‘new normal’.
–Australian solar PV mapping resource: The APVI is currently developing a solar PV uptake & performance mapping tool to assist inform public opinion, policy, and solar PV market participants. This map will also play a role in forecasting future market development across the nation.
–Grid price parity modelling: Solar PV prices have already fallen such that the levelised cost of energy (LCOE) is lower than that of grid electricity in Australia over expected 20-25 year solar system lifespans. The APVI’s modeling of solar power prices relative to grid electricity prices will help to inform not only government policy with regard to solar, but also the decisions of households, businesses, and utilities who are considering solar PV as an option.
–Issues in solar law: As the solar PV industry grows, hitherto unheard of legal problems arise for all stakeholders. The APVI is conducting research to facilitate the establishment of a legal framework that deals specifically with the issues associated with the increased uptake of solar PV technology, including solar access, strata title clarifications, heritage listings and other planning issues.
Education and information dissemination
TThe APVI has become increasingly active in running lectures and workshops for those already active in Australia’s solar industry or wanting to get involved. Workshops are often tied to the APVI’s research topics, and carried out in partnership with prominent universities as well as private firms. A schedule of current events can be found on the APVI’s website: www.apvi.org.au.
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