Queensland reaches solar energy target early21st Jul 2011
The state of Queensland has met its target for solar energy three years ahead of schedule.
Minister for energy and water utilities Stephen Robertson has announced that the adoption of solar technology has far exceeded initial expectations.
The original target set by the Bligh government in April 2010 was to double the amount of solar power usage over the course of five years.
Robertson says: "We have not only achieved this target, we have smashed it more than three years early."
When the plan was first announced, the government estimated Queensland's solar power generation capacity to be around 250 megawatts.
That total has now jumped to 500 megawatts after an unexpected rapid increase in consumers wanting to make the transition to clean energy.
"Town by town and city by city, Queenslanders have built a Virtual Solar Power Station by installing solar photovoltaic (PV) rooftop panels or solar hot water systems," Robertson told the media.
Robertson drew attention to the 500MW capacity being on par with the operating levels of a small coal-fired power station, the kind the scheme aims to reduce Australia's reliance on over time.
With the target reached ahead of schedule, the Queensland government is pushing ahead with additional programs such as a planned solar thermal power station for Chinchilla in the state's south-east.
New solar farms are also scheduled for Cloncurry and Hervey Bay.
According to Robertson, more than 100,500 residents are participating in the government's Solar Bonus Scheme as a part of the Queensland Renewable Energy Plan.
Queensland's total renewable energy capacity has reached an estimated 1,080 MW, an increase of 45 per cent since 2008.
Robertson has highlighted the benefit that the renewable energy sector will have for the region as the expansion of the solar sector means more jobs added to the market.
A review will be needed now that the target has been met.
The news comes a week after ACT residents reached the cap for the solar feed-in tariff sooner than expected.
Much to the surprise of the solar industry, the cap was reached within 48 hours of being re-opened.
The two cases show that Australians are warming to the idea of solar power ahead of government expectations.
With more government initiatives on the way, solar power generation is expected to increase in popularity as the nation moves towards a clean energy future.