Australia has some of the best solar energy resources in the world.
We are prioritising a rapid and large-scale escalation in solar power production. Large-scale solar and wind farm investment commitments in Australia almost doubled in 2022, according to the Clean Energy Regulator.
Solar PV – electricity generation using photovoltaic cells – will be the world’s leading green energy technology by 2050, when 90 per cent of the world’s electricity will be renewable.
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There are significant opportunities for investors in building Australia’s solar PV production and export capability, including development of an integrated silicon and solar cell supply chain, advanced manufacturing, polysilicon production. recycling and R&D. Investment into Australia’s solar power generation sector also provides a pathway into other renewables investments. Solar farms are now increasingly incorporated into hybrid solar and wind power generation, and sometimes with battery storage.
Investors will benefit from:
- Australia’s natural advantages: Abundant land, sun and mineral resources
- World-class expertise and momentum: We’re on track to be a renewable energy superpower.
- Highly supportive government: Funding and policies targeted at rapid solar energy growth
- Long-term domestic demand. By 2050 an estimated nine times the current utility-scale solar and wind generating capacity will be needed in Australia (Source: 2022 Integrated System Plan for the National Electricity Market. Australian Energy Market Operator)
- Ready export markets: We are proactively developing supply chain and export capability to establish ourselves as a preferred supplier
The Australian continent has the world’s highest solar radiation per square metre.
Source: Geoscience Australia.
Solar PV generation grew 31.8 per cent in 2020-21. Average growth over the 10 years to 2020-21 was 33.6 per cent.
Source: Australian Energy Update 2022. Department of Climate Change, Energy, the Environment and Water.
Our natural advantages
Australia has unparalleled solar resources. This includes:
- The highest solar radiation of any continent (Source: Geoscience Australia). Australia receives an average of 58 million PJ of solar radiation a year - about 10,000 times greater than our total energy consumption
- Abundant land for large-scale solar arrays
- Plentiful silicon in the form of high-purity quartz to support solar cell manufacture. Australia added silicon to its list of 26 critical minerals in 2022, given its importance to technologies such as solar cells and energy storage batteries.
“Australia has been a world leader on solar PV research for decades. The same universities that blazed the solar PV trail will step up again to help get utility-scale technology off the ground and help transform Australia into a renewable energy superpower.”
Minister for Climate Change and Energy Chris Bowen
Australia has deep pools of expertise in the energy industry and a long track record of pioneering solar research.
- Australians invented the solar cell used today in more than 90 per cent of the world’s solar panels. See how researchers at the University of NSW triggered the exponential growth in high-performance, low-cost solar electricity production with their Passivated Emitter and Rear Cell (PERC) solar PV technology.
- Australia has the highest rooftop solar penetration in the world – almost a third of households have solar panels – and we have proven capability in the manufacturing and assembly of solar PV panels. (Source: CSIRO. Australian Silicon Action Plan)
- We offer a highly skilled and innovative workforce, supported by our world-class universities and research bodies.
- We have an exemplary record in supporting investors in large-scale export industries
“Australia already has the highest per capita deployment of rooftop solar in the world, and there are several mega-projects in the solar development pipeline.”
CSIRO Senior Principal Research Scientist Dr Chris Vernon
- Australia is the world’s 7th largest solar nation, based on installed solar PV capacity, according to BP’s 2022 Statistical Review of World Energy.
- Solar PV represented 11.7 per cent of electricity generation in Australia in 2021, equivalent to 31.2GWh – making up the largest share of Australia’s renewable energy generation (Source: Australian Energy Update 2022. Department of Climate Change, Energy, the Environment and Water)
- Australia’s installed solar capacity grew an average of 22.7% per year between 2011 and 2021, according to BP’s 2022 Statistical Review of World Energy
- Australia has the highest per capita deployment of rooftop solar in the world. Rooftop solar is installed on around 30 per cent of homes, with around 15GWof aggregate capacity. This is expected to rise to 65% of homes with 69 GW capacity by 2050 (Source: Australian Energy Market Operator. 2022 Integrated System Plan for the National Electricity Market).
- Australia ranks 6th globally for the attractiveness of its renewable energy investment and deployment opportunities (Source: EY Renewable Energy Country Attractiveness Index 2022 (RECAI 60))
Incentives, grants, and support
The Australian Government and state governments are working together to support renewable energy including solar power. A key mechanism is renewable energy zones (REZs) that coordinate network and renewable investment.
- A new National Energy Transformation Partnership between both levels of government supports alignment and cooperation to deliver market reforms and support investments in the grid. Agreed in August 2022, the partnership provides additional certainty to support investment in renewables, storage and transmission.
- Most Australian states including Queensland, Victoria, New South Wales and Tasmania are developing REZs to ensure necessary infrastructure is available to support clusters of projects to develop.
- The Australian Government’s A$20 billion Rewiring the Nation scheme is supporting updates to the transmission network to help the REZs plug into the electricity grid.
- It’s part of the government’s wider A$25bn commitment to clean energy through the Powering Australia plan. Other strands include A$224.3 million for community batteries to store excess solar energy and A$102.2 million for community solar banks. The A$1.9 billion Powering the Regions Fund will support Australian industry to decarbonise, develop new clean energy industries and help build Australia’s new energy workforce.
Other grants and funding pools are available:
- The Large-scale Renewable Energy Target (LRET) incentivises investment in major renewable projects such as solar farms. A similar scheme exists for individuals and small businesses to install eligible small-scale renewable energy systems.
- The Australian Renewable Energy Agency (ARENA) funds clean energy R&D and administers other grant programs.
- Over the past decade, ARENA has provided more than A$230 million to around 130 solar R&D projects. In January 2023 for example it funded 13 new projects worth A$41.5 million for research on solar PV to reduce its cost, improve cell efficiency and support the commercialisation of new technology.
- The A$50m Regional Australia Microgrid Pilots Program, running until 2026, supports pilot demonstrations of microgrids in regional and remote areas.
- The Industrial Energy Transformation Studies (IETS) Program is providing $43 million in funding to assist large energy users to undertake engineering and feasibility studies to identify opportunities to lower energy costs and reduce emissions.
- The Advancing Renewables Program supports a range of development, demonstration and pre-commercial deployment projects. This includes opportunities to optimise the transition to renewable electricity, commercialise clean hydrogen and support the transition to low emissions metals.
- The Clean Energy Finance Corporation supports investment in energy efficiency, renewable energy and low emissions technology projects. This includes through the Clean Energy Innovation Fund, the largest dedicated cleantech investor in Australia. The Innovation Fund draws on CEFC finance and expertise to invest in innovation businesses whose activities can lower Australia’s emissions.
- The NSW Government operates a $1.5 billion Clean Energy Superpower Fund to support the delivery of renewable energy storage and grid security projects.
Join our thriving ecosystem
Australia’s rapid uptake of solar PV technology is driving the transformation of our electricity infrastructure and a robust manufacturing base. Almost half of the 6GW renewables development pipeline in early 2023 is solar. We continue to invest in cutting-edge R&D to speed the transition to net zero.
- Australia’s national science agency, CSIRO, plays a leading role in coordinating research activity.
- It leads the Australian Solar Thermal Research Institute (ASTRI), a collaboration with international research institutions, industry bodies and universities. CSIRO and six Australian universities are working closely with partners such as the US’s National Renewable Energy Laboratory, Sandia National Laboratories and Arizona State University on concentrated solar thermal technology to supply cheap, zero-emission and secure energy.
- CSIRO’s Solar Technologies team leads the way in next-generation solar cells, and concentrated solar thermal (CST) research, and specialises in high-temperature central receiver systems.
- CSIRO’s Centre for Hybrid Energy Systems is a collaboration hub for researchers and industry in hybrid energy – energy systems that combine two or more energy generation, storage or end-use technologies. One collaboration with Nissan Australia and Delta Electronics on solar-powered electronic vehicle charging is working towards allowing drivers to draw upon renewable energy to charge a vehicle at any time of day, and in any weather, with little impact to the electricity grid.
- CSIRO envisions an integrated Australian silicon and solar supply chain. Its plan, prepared by PricewaterhouseCoopers, includes the development of end-to-end capability, from quartz mining to manufacturing, end-of-life processes, and recycling, for ‘truly circular’ outcomes.
- The Australian Centre of Advanced Photovoltaics (ACAP), is headquartered at the University of NSW’s School of Photovoltaic and Renewable Energy Engineering in Sydney. ACAP includes research groups at CSIRO, the Australian National University in Canberra, the Universities of Melbourne and Queensland and Monash University in Melbourne. ACAP has ties with international partners such as Arizona State University’s NSF/DOE Energy Research Center for Quantum Energy and Sustainable Technologies (QESST), The Molecular Foundry at Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratories, Stanford University, Georgia Institute of Technology, and Korea’s Green Energy Institute.
- Geoscience Australia, the national earth sciences agency, provides pre-competitive solar resource prospectivity data and analysis to support solar industry and research. Its map of active solar ground stations shows where insolation data is currently being collected. It also assesses energy resources to 2030 in its Australian Energy Resource Assessment.
- Solar also features in several Australian Government-supported and industry-led cooperative research centres (CRCs) including:
- The Clean Energy Council is the peak body for the clean energy industry in Australia. For a bird’s eye view of large-scale solar projects across Australia, it offers a renewable energy generation project tracker.
Multiple global renewables companies have solar PV projects in Australia. They include:
- The UK’s Lightsource bp, which is poised to become Australia’s largest solar developer. It has five projects in operation or under construction in the states of New South Wales, Queensland and Victoria that total over 1GWp of generating capacity.
- Italy’s Enel Green Power, which operates three solar plants with 309 MW of installed capacity.
- France’s ENGIE and Japan’s Mitsui, who are jointly building a A$87 million renewable hydrogen project in Western Australia that includes a 18MW solar PV system
- France’s Neoen, which has invested more than A$3 billion in Australian renewables across 14 large-scale projects. In December 2022 it started construction on a 200 MW / 400 MWh battery – its fourth big battery in Australia – next to a 460 MWp solar farm it’s building at Western Downs in Queensland. It received financing from the Australian Renewable Energy Agency’s (ARENA) Large Scale Battery Storage Funding Round. Another Neoen project combines solar energy with sheep farming.
- Japan’s Sojitz Corporation, which owns the 204 MW Edenvale Solar Park in Queensland.
- ACEN, listed in the Philippines, has installed almost one million solar panels in stage one of the New England Solar project led by its Australian subsidiary. The 400MW project officially opened in March 2023 within a New South Wales Government’s Renewable Energy Zone (REZ). A second stage will bring the total capacity to 720MW - one of Australia’s largest solar farms. ACEN Australia has more than 1GW capacity in construction, and more than 8GW capacity in the development pipeline. This represents a significant portion of ACEN’s international portfolio.
And commercial-scale concentrated solar power is one step closer in Australia. The Australian Government has approved A$65m funding to Vast Solar to construct a 30 MW / 288 MWh Concentrated Solar Thermal Power (CSP) plant at Port Augusta in South Australia. CSP can be used to generate electricity on demand, including overnight, allowing companies to adjust the power output they supply to the electrical grid. Construction is expected to commence in late 2023.