Australia grows solar energy potential

Solar energy in Australia looks to be growing in leaps and bounds. With electricity prices rising, local and state governments are looking for ways to invest in sustainable practices - and solar panels are just one of these measures. An impressive solar plant in New South Wales is just one example of this. AGL and First Solar has placed $290 million into the project, which is expected to supply 25 megawatts of renewable electricity to the National Electricity Market.

Nyngan Solar Plant in western New South Wales went online on March 30. Around 350,000 panels were connected to the grid and four times that number are expected to be completed in coming months. The initiative was a partnership between electricity distributor Essential Energy, the Australian Energy Market Operator, as well as First Solar and AGL Group. Not only will the plant boost New South Wales' reputation as a significant sustainable energy player, it also has some economic benefits.

NSW Environment Minister Rob Stokes said that that renewable energy industry in New South Wales supports around 13,000 jobs, particularly in regional parts of the state.

"Renewable energy generation in NSW has doubled over the last decade and has driven $8 billion of investment, predominantly in regional areas," he said in a March 21 release. 

This suggests a bright future for utility-level solar energy in New South Wales. There is also potential for other states to follow the NSW government's lead and choose renewable resources as the way of the future. 

Solar energy growth 

Australia's solar energy production has increased exponentially. According the Australia PV Institute, the solar PV market grew by around 15 per cent each year between 2001 and 2010, followed by another period of rapid expansion between 2010 and 2013. In fact, figures from the Clean Energy Regulator show that 176,137 solar PV installations were made over 2014. This isn't nearly as high as the incredible peak seen in 2011 at 360,745, but there is still room for improvement in coming years. 

A lot of this has to do with installation price. As more and more people take up solar panel technology, the prices have decreased significantly. Solar Choice shows that prices has dropped by around 25 per cent since August 2012.

In any case, with state governments finding ways to include renewable energy resources into their electricity generation projects, the network could be powered a lot more by these sustainable sources. If more electricity suppliers adopt solar energy, it could be a great outcome for your electricity bill.

Posted by Jeremy Elliott