AuSES-sponsored Conference Spins the Big Solar Wheel

Two of the key issues covered this week at the Solar 2011 conference have been (1) the growing affordability of solar systems for both domestic and commercial outlooks as prices plummet, and (2) the growth of international large-scale solar projects. The first has been made possible by the growth of the Chinese solar energy sector and has made cheap solar panels available to Australian households and businesses.

However are we likely to see massive scale projects backed by the federal government in this country? Well yes if the event organisers have their way.

The Australian Solar Energy Society (AuSES)-sponsored event, held in Sydney from November 30 to December 2, brought together movers and shakers from around the world to discuss  issues facing the solar industry. John Grimes, AuSES CEO described the event as taking place at a watershed time for the solar industry.

In a year when state solar feed-in tariffs seemed to disappear faster then the Australian cricket team’s top order back into the pavilion, Grimes made the point that solar systems are now 70 percent cheaper than at the start of the year. In a familiar cry, Grimes called on the state and federal governments to do more to enhance the growth of solar energy in this country.

“Now is the time for Australian governments to match that expertise and capability with policies that provide certainty and promote the growth of solar energy as part of Australia’s clean energy future,” he said in a statement prior to the opening of the event.

During his opening address at the conference, Grimes made the second major point: that solar power was now approaching grid parity with fossil fuelled energy. He added that this fact had made renewable energy such as solar a key player in the government’s plans for the country’s energy needs.

Earlier Grimes had pointed to government support which had made large-scale projects in countries such as Spain and the United States possible. Perhaps with one eye on the potential for a funding windfall from revenue raised by the recently-passed carbon tax, he said such investment could only benefit the nation’s economy.

“The international experience of companies such as Abengoa [whose Chief Operating Officer, Scott Frier attended the conference] offers a great insight into the potential for the future development of solar energy in Australia, including the creation of thousands of new jobs in the renewable energy sector,” he said.

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