Australia adds ultra-low-cost solar to latest low emissions tech statement

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In Australia, the government has released its Low Emissions Technology Statement 2021, which highlights technology the country will focus on to accelerate the decarbonisation of its economy.

The 2021 Statement is Australia’s second following the release of the 2020 list, which comprised technologies including clean hydrogen, energy storage, low carbon steel and aluminium, carbon capture and storage, and soil carbon.

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Australia has added ultra-low-cost solar as a priority technology in the 2021 Statement. The government has started embarking on various measures to reduce the cost of solar and increase its deployment.

A goal to ensure the cost of solar is below $15 per megawatt-hour, which is roughly a third of today’s cost, has been set and is expected to enable the provision of affordable energy to consumers as well as pave the way for increased deployment of resources such as green hydrogen.

The Australian Renewable Energy Agency (ARENA), for instance, has announced its Solar 30-30-30 target, which includes increasing the efficiency of solar modules by 30% and reducing the cost of solar module installation to 30 cents per watt installed by 2030.

Funding of solar projects is a key focus in Australia’s new Investment Plan announced in September, according to ARENA.

The inclusion of solar in the statement comes at a time when distributed solar energy is already disrupting the country’s energy market with massive capacity coming from consumer households.

ARENA CEO Darren Miller, said: “Solar and wind are now mature technologies that can deliver bulk energy at costs low enough to justify their deployment at scale. However, many of the harder-to-abate sectors need electricity at even cheaper rates than is possible with today’s technology, which is why the 30-30-30 target for ultra low-cost solar is so important to achieve our net-zero emission target”

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In July 2021, the Australian Energy Regulator, in its report, State of the Energy Market 2021, admitted that the country’s grid is “moving rapidly from a centralised system of large coal and gas generation towards a mixture of smaller scale, widely dispersed wind and solar generators.”

According to Clare Savage, chair at the energy regulator, “Almost 24% of all consumers in the National Energy Market now partly meet their electricity needs through rooftop solar and sell excess electricity back into the grid, compared with less than 0.2% of consumers in 2007.”

Research firm Wood Mackenzie forecasts Australia’s solar market to be the largest in the Asia Pacific through 2030.

A total of 23GW of solar capacity will be installed in the country by 2030, driven by state-level renewables targets and green hydrogen ambitions, according to Wood Mackenzie.

The research firm predicts that solar will account for 20% of Australia’s total power generation mix by 2030.

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