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Australia tops solar energy installation rankings

20th Aug 2012

Australia has sent a message to other international renewable energy leaders by posting the most solar installations worldwide in 2011.

New data from the Clean Energy Regulator and the International Energy Agency (IEA) show revealed that Aussies deployed 785MW worth of solar power systems on their rooftops last year, the Sydney Morning Herald reports.

This was made all the more impressive because Australia's population is fairly small compared with other big hitters on the list, including Germany, Italy, Japan, China and the US.

The announcement was apparently somewhat of a shock to those at the IEA event, with president of the REC Agent Association Ric Brazzale admitting that he was surprised.

His organisation represents creators and traders of renewable energy certificates, but even he wasn't expecting the result, especially considering the size of nations such as Germany and Italy.

Mr Brazzale stated: "'Australian support for solar has had a lot of support at the residential level and all political parties in the country have supported residential solar.

"Elsewhere in the world, most policy is geared towards much larger-scale commercial projects.''

And the data would seem to support this. According to the figures, Australia still produces less solar electricity than a number of nations on the list - it's just Australians favour small-scale, individual systems on their rooftops.

Despite this, the 785MW still managed to beat out closest rivals Japan and Germany, which only managed to install around 759MW worth of systems, although this represented just ten per cent of the European country's total solar power generation.

Nigel Morris, director of SolarBusinessServices, looked over the numbers and confirmed their authenticity by cross-referencing them against IEA stats for last year.

Earlier this month, writing an article for Solar Australia, the clean energy aficionado said installations in the country are on the rise and he seems to have been right on the money.

Commenting on Australia's household penetration of solar energy systems, he said there are a number of factors that have contributed.

"Our market is designed to favour small systems," he explained, adding that the renewable energy certificate system that's built to sustain rooftop models of 1.5 kilowatts was a big help.

There have also been many people who took advantage of generous state feed-in-tariff schemes, Mr Morris explained, such as the New South Wales Solar Bonus Scheme and a similar initiative in Queensland that saw 350MW worth of installation requests in the last 13 days of operation.

Posted by Mike Peacock

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