QLD 'lacks ambition' over solar energy

14th Feb 2012

Solar energy projects in Queensland need to be more ambitious so the state can strive towards a low-energy future, an expert writing for reneweconomy.com.au believes.

Such initiatives have so far proved successful, with the state increasing the number of rooftop solar panels from 6MW in 2008 to 355MW in 2011, explained Giles Parkinson.

Although this has been a significant achievement, the level of ambition in the state stops there, he noted, as projections for the coming years are somewhat subdued.

Three years ago, it was predicted that solar photovoltaic and hot water would increase to 40MW by 2020, but has now revised this forecast to 750MW.

This may sound impressive, but Mr Parkinson pointed out that this suggests only 38MW of solar photovoltaic will be added in the state on a yearly basis.

Five times as much as this was installed last year and twice as much in the 12 months before.

Nigel Morris, head of consulting firm Solar Business Services, told the website: "It's hard to understand how the government could be factoring in negative growth in the solar industry – either they don't understand or there is something else going on."

In a bid to move towards an energy efficient future, the Australian government recently re-opened its Solar Flagships scheme, which encourages the construction of large-scale solar power stations.

The first round of funding had initially been granted to Moree Solar Farm, but following changes to its application and failure to meet certain conditions, the grant was withdrawn.

However, this project and three others will now be able to change their proposals ready for reassessment by the Solar Flagships Council, which will determine where the funding will go next.

Minister for resources and energy Martin Ferguson highlighted that the funding has been reopened in order to make sure that taxpayer money is being spent in the most effective way.

The government has acknowledged the potential of solar electricity, but this does not seem to have translated into widespread uptake of panels in Queensland.

Giles Parkinson from reneweconomy.com.au noted that the government once said it expects solar photovoltaics to "become cost-competitive with conventional fossil-fuel energy generation within the next decade".

Mr Morris also expressed his confusion, saying that a report from the Australian Energy Market Commission found that solar programs were adding just 0.03c/kWh to consumer bills.

This is in addition to an additional 3c/kWh for transmission expenses.

Posted by Bob Dawson


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