Australia added 1.2 GW of large-scale solar in 2021 however renewables financial investment slows, report finds

Apr 7, 2022 03:36 PM ET
  • Large-scale solar implementation in Australia leapt 38% year-on-year in 2021 as its 3 biggest PV plants were commissioned, but financial commitments for new renewables projects in the country fell, according to a new report.
Australia added 1.2 GW of large-scale solar in 2021 however renewables financial investment slows, report finds
Image: Lightsource bp

A total of 1,209 MW of solar projects with a capacity of greater than 5MW were added in Australia in 2021, making it the market's second-best year, renewables association the Clean Energy Council (CEC) disclosed in its 2022 Clean Energy Australia Report.

While renewable energy currently accounts for 32.5% of Australia's electricity, CEC chief executive Kane Thornton claimed the positive results last year are shadowed by a significant slowdown in the pipeline for renewables, with the level of financial commitments for new large-scale projects falling by more than 17% in between 2020 and also 2021.

This reduction is because of ongoing policy uncertainty incorporated with the challenges related to attaching renewables, claimed Thornton, adding: "These challenges have raised dangers and also reduced the variety of new projects coming forward. The downturn is worrying due to expectations that coal-fired power plants will certainly continue to close earlier than formerly expected."

Amongst the landmarks last year was the commissioning of Australia's biggest solar project, the 275MW Darlington Point plant in New South Wales too its 2nd- and third-largest solar ranches: the 200MW Kiamal project as well as 174MW Wellington install.

Biggest solar projects installed in Australia in 2021

Project Owner Capacity (MW)
Darlington Point Edify and Fern Trading Development 275
Kiamal Total Eren 200
Wellington Lightsource bp 174
Glenrowan West Wirtgen Invest 130
Winton Fotowatio Renewable Ventures 85

Source: The Clean Energy Council's 2022 Clean Energy Australia Report.

In regards to medium-scale projects (100kW-- 5MW), the report stated the COVID-19 pandemic had a noticeable impact on the efficiency of the section momentarily straight year, with 117MW included 2021.

Nevertheless, momentum was kept in Australia's rooftop solar industry in 2021, with a record 3.3 GW added, corresponding to almost 390,000 systems.

While this boost indicated roof PV accounted for 8.1% of Australia's total electricity generation, the report said the technology fulfilled a dramatically higher proportion of demand at certain times throughout the year, such as making up 78.7% of total demand in South Australia on 4 November.

The CEC claimed in the report that while the roof solar revolution is having a favorable effect on Australia's emissions and consumers' electricity bills, the downside is that the electricity grid is battling to keep up.

As a result, authorities in some parts of the country introduced measures such as export limits and remote disconnection in 2021 to ensure the stability of the network, while a proposal by the Australian Energy Market Commission has actually recommended charging roof solar consumers for exporting excess electricity to the grid.

According to Thornton, 2021 was also a development year for big batteries, with 30 large-scale batteries unfinished at the end of 2021 with an incorporated capacity as well as storage space period of 921MW/ 1,169 MWh. "Energy capitalists are clearly certain about the important role as well as industrial viability of large batteries to deliver the reliable power of the future," he stated.

With greater than 6.3 GW of renewables added in the country last year, Thornton said this offers Australia "confidence that it can supply the new clean energy supply necessary to support the accelerated closure of coal generation as well as attain even more ambitious climate modification goals".

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