Snapshot of solar energy's future

12th Mar 2013

Australia's recent solar photovoltaic (PV) panel boom, especially notable in states like Queensland, is reflective of a wider global trend.

Solar and research analysis group, Solarbuzz, forecast that the Asia Pacific region is going to experience a lot of growth in its solar industry and demand in the coming years.

According to Bloomberg, China – the world's biggest carbon dioxide emitting nation – will become the biggest market in the solar energy industry.

Currently Germany holds the title for the biggest solar power industry.  This year, Bloomberg forecasts the global industry is forecast to expand the most since 2011.

They estimate that global new generation capacity will rise throughout 2013 to 34.1 GW (a 14 per cent increase). 2012's growth rate was 4.4 per cent.

John Grimes, chief executive of the Australian Solar council told Peter Hannam of the Canberra Times that Australia added approximately 1 GW of solar PV capacity last year, increasing the whole country's capacity to 2.4 GW.

Grimes also noted that the wholesale price of solar PV is now as low as 55 cents per watt of power, a huge decrease from an average of $7 in 2008.

However policy ups and down in Australia do encourage a certain level of uncertainty in Australia's industry.

On the good news side, there have been a number of state-government led initiatives for individual states, and the current federal government has been supportive of the industry.

One example of this is its recent announcement that it is investing in developing more competitive and cost effective solar photovoltaic panels.

On the other hand, Tony Abbott – leader of the opposition who are ahead in the polls for the upcoming September election – vowed to cut the carbon tax in a March 4 interview with Nine's Today television show. The tax currently encourages businesses to adopt renewable power sources to lower their emissions.

As well as this, the opposition has hinted at lowering or removing Australia's Renewable Energy Target, which would be another blow for the solar industry.

Posted by Mike Peacock

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