Clean Energy Council calls for solar realism24th Aug 2011
Following widespread reports last week that solar power had reached grid parity with coal-fired electricity, the Clean Energy Council (CEC) has called for a reality check and further assistance for the industry.
CEC chief executive Matthew Warren says: "Claims that the cost of solar energy are competitive with coal, while intended to be constructive, risk doing more harm than good. Leading solar industry analysts expect that the falling cost of solar will meet the rising the cost of fossil fuel electricity somewhere between 2015 and 2018."
He cites the current level of adoption as a key indicator that grid parity has not yet been reached.
"If solar electricity was at or very close to grid parity anywhere in Australia at the moment then systems would be going up on every roof and every business without government assistance. That simply isn't the case yet."
However, Warren believes that a bright future is around the corner for the country as it searches for a viable alternative for clean energy.
"We have seen a big fall in the cost of these systems over the past decade and it's clear that solar energy is going to play a major role in Australia’s energy supply over the rest of this century," he asserts.
Warren believes that the solar industry is primed to grow exponentially in Australia, provided it receives the right amount of support.
He draws particular attention to the NSW solar sector - which has struggled since the closure of the NSW Solar Bonus Scheme - and believes that momentum could be lost if government support fades.
The NSW government has commissioned an investigation into a fair and reasonable price for solar energy being fed into the grid by household solar systems.
Government support for feed-in tariff schemes have proven popular in giving financial incentives to homeowners and businesses who have installed solar panel systems.
The Independent Pricing and Regulatory Tribunal will deliver its report in April 2012 and the government is expected to make its decision on a solar policy following the recommendations.
Government initiatives have been a key factor in the successful adoption of solar power by countries around the globe.
A report published in July 2011 by the Renewable Energy Policy Network for the 21st Century (REN21) showed that government policy is a driving force behind causing change in how a country and its people generate and consumer energy.
By Mike Peacock: Solar Correspondent