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Solar power 'will be its own boss by 2013'

24th Aug 2012

The solar power sector won't be relying on the government to help with uptake in the near future - or so says one industry expert.

Professor Ray Wills is chief adviser for the Sustainable Energy Association (SEA) and he believes solar power will soon be so popular it won't require lucrative schemes in order to boost interest.

In an article for ScienceNetwork Western Australia, he was quoted as saying: "By the middle of 2013, the market of solar electricity generation will be mature enough to sustain itself, without the need for stimulus in the form of feed-in-tariffs (FITs)."

What prompted him to say this? According to figures from the Australian Clean Energy Regulator (CER), there has been a small drop in the number of installations being carried out across the country's households this year.

This is all the more bizarre, he commented, because the price of solar panels is on its way down.

Ray thinks the cancellation of state and federal initiatives for FITs is behind the decrease and described it as a "mistimed removal".

And while this may have had a negative impact on solar power installations in the short term, he's not convinced this will be a problem for much longer.

In fact, the professor claims there have already been signs of a reacceleration in the market since March - with more and more homeowners becoming frustrated with the rising cost of energy.

"As people begin to realise that electricity is now cheaper from solar panels than it is from the grid, this slowing trend is very likely to reverse," he stated.

CER figures stated in the article put the number of homes with solar PV panel installations at around three quarters of a million.

The SEA, previously known as the Western Australian Sustainable Energy Association, suggested this kind of penetration generates a total capacity of approximately 1.7GW and the organisation predicted at least ten per cent of Australians will be hooked up to solar energy by September.

However, Professor Wills doesn't seem to want to rest on his laurels and highlighted Western Australia (WA) as one place that is failing to reach its solar potential.

He said the state had taken a considerable amount of time to implement policies for the installation of solar PV, although he admitted WA's current capacity of 218MW is still bigger than the local government had originally planned. 

Posted by Mike Peacock

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