24 June 2013 — By Christmas, Germany will have enough solar panels installed on farms, factories, homes and public buildings to supply one quarter of Australia’s electricity needs, says executive director of think tank Zero Emissions Australia Matthew Wright.

“Today, Germany has 34,000GWe of solar panels installed supplying about five per cent of Europe’s largest economy’s electricity needs,” he said. “At the end of the year Germany will have 37 gigawatts of solar, enough to power a quarter of all electricity demand in Australia.”

“Australia, which is only currently meeting two per cent of its energy demand with solar photovoltaic, also has a sunlight advantage, which means its panels would eclipse those of Germany in terms of annual solar output.”

“Any panel installed in Australia instead of Germany will produce twice as much annual electricity with our superior sunlight conditions”

“A draft study (questionably) yet to be released by the Australian Energy Market Operator (AEMO) includes a scenario where Australia will have 35,000MWe of solar panels installed in order to achieve 100% renewable energy.  Unfortunately, AEMO’s unreleased draft scenario is behind the eight-ball suggesting we could achieve this by 2050.

“It is achievable to aim for 25% of the nation’s electricity from solar in the coming decade.  It would involve installing on average 3500MWe of solar panels per year for ten years.

“Germany, from 2010-2013, installed approximately 8,000MWe of solar panels per year – twice as much as what would achieve 25% of our electricity from solar in a decade,” said Wright.

“Germany has a superior incentive scheme to Australia with a Feed-in-Tariff that adjusts monthly to falling solar system prices. The Germans will soon move their incentives to target solar storage.

“Including storage for using solar energy during evenings, which is the opportunity for a government kick-start program, Australia could easily achieve 25% solar in a decade,” said Wright.

“A serious program of installing 37,000MWe of solar photovoltaic over 10 years would be achieved for a quarter of the cost of what Germany has paid during the industry’s higher cost early development stage.

“We must aim for a quarter of Australia powered by solar within a decade and we can achieve that for a quarter of the cost of what Germany paid for just 5% of their nation’s electricity needs to run on solar.

“Even with the difference in population and the much larger share of our energy needs that would be covered, we would be investing, in absolute terms, less in solar on a per capita basis to achieve 25% than Germany with its population of 83 million invested to achieve 5%,” said Wright.

“It’s time for our nation’s political parties, the Liberals, ALP and the Greens to come out with some comprehensive targets for solar (including storage), wind and centralised baseload solar thermal power plants,” said Wright.

“Renewables will provide a natural hedge against fluctuating international oil, gas and coal prices; categorically deal with the dangers of climate change; and overcome the health effects of burning fossil fuels.

“With over one million homes now fitted with a solar system of its own, Australians love solar and our politicians should respect that,” said Wright.

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