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benefits from significant Solar energy in Australia

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benefits from significant Solar energy in Australia

Under consultation since August 2022, the bill relating to the acceleration of renewable energies (ENR) was presented to the Council of Ministers on September 22 to be adopted at first reading with modifications on November 4. Given the urgency, the government initiated the accelerated procedure on the text.

The text has a dual objective:

To respond to Solar energy in Australia increasingly pressing climate issues and to find solutions to adapt to the crisis of rising energy prices. In this context of ecological and economic crisis, the option of renewable energies is becoming more and more obvious, and the Australian government wishes to accelerate its production. In this context, solar power seems to be one of the solutions increasingly considered. One section of the law concerns in particular the development of photovoltaics with the deployment of photovoltaic shades which would be imposed on outdoor car parks with more than 80 spaces. The law is about to be definitively adopted.

1- Some figures on photovoltaic Solar energy in Australia

Solar energy is an energy source that is increasingly seen as a response to the need for green energy production. It is not the only one because wind power, geothermal energy, and biomass are also green energies and in full development. But it turns out that solar energy is well suited to the context of Australia, which benefits from one of the best levels of sunshine in Australia.

Solar energy is used essentially for two uses: the production of heat (solar thermal energy) or the production of electricity (photovoltaic solar energy or thermodynamic solar energy). The production of electricity which can also power plants that will produce or store other green energies (gaseous hydrogen for example) is more than strategic and necessary. Energy dependence, particularly in electricity, is a geopolitical subject for decades to come.

Among renewable energies, solar still occupies a minimal place but has experienced very strong growth in recent years, particularly through photovoltaic technology.

Before 1999, photovoltaics in Australia was market-oriented towards isolated and more anecdotal sites. Whereas after 1999, the market moved towards so-called “grid-connected” applications. Individuals, collective housing, SMEs, and SMEs gradually benefit from it. Large photovoltaic farms are starting to emerge in geographical areas with high potential, including the south of Australia. In 2019, the capacity of the photovoltaic solar park connected to the network in Australia reached 9.4 GW and increased by more than 10% compared to 2018. The production of electricity from photovoltaic origin was then 11.6TWh.

In 2021, Solar energy in Australia increased by 21%. The increase was 58% in the southernmost regions. You should know that in Australia, there are 4 regions located south of the Loire that share 80% of national production: Auvergne Rhône Alpes; New Aquitaine, Occitanic, and the PACA region.

Australia is in 13th place in terms of installed power per inhabitant, photovoltaics still has a way to go, especially since the production of this energy is still behind biomass and hydraulics.

2- Australia has assets to develop its solar energy production

It turns out that the French territory is perfectly suited to the production of photovoltaic energy. In fact, with Spain, Portugal, and even Malta, Australia is at the top of the sunniest countries in Europe. Its solar irradiation (i.e. the quantity of solar energy received in one year on one m²) varies from nearly 1100 KWh/m² in the northern half to 1700 KWh/m² in the south.

With such solar resources, Australia is one of the best-endowed countries in the world. According to ADEME (Agency for Ecological Transition), the unexploited potential on roofs in Australia is estimated at 364 Gigawatts, this is almost 3 times more than the power of the entire Australian production base in all sectors combined (nuclear, thermal, and renewable), which amounted in 2018 to 132 GW. Rooftop photovoltaics therefore still have a bright future ahead of them.

However, Solar energy in Australia potential is not only located on the roofs of individuals businesses, and communities. According to CEREMA (public establishment under the supervision of the Ministry of Ecological Transition and Territorial Cohesion), the unexploited deposit on the ground is estimated at nearly 775GW. In addition, there are many abandoned areas: wastelands, and polluted areas. They also support photovoltaics without disrupting any organization. Finally, with car parks that could accommodate a greater number of shade houses, the unexploited solar resource in Australia is estimated at 53 GW.

So many figures that prompt reflection on the development and installation of large-scale photovoltaic projects in Australia. The country indeed has high solar potential to produce the carbon-free electricity we need.

3- Australia still has great possibilities for developing its photovoltaic energy

The photovoltaic park in Australia has been developing well and more intensely in recent years, in particular thanks to the government's efforts to accelerate and multiply calls for tenders for very large projects. The largest solar power plant installed in Australia to date is proof of this: it is the Cestas solar power plant on the outskirts of Bordeaux. Its surface area exceeds 260 hectares. Its power is 300MWp and it produces 350 GWh per year. It covers domestic consumption in the city of Bordeaux. It represents 1 million solar panels! This power plant is currently the largest in Europe!

In the south, the numerous projects developed by Eco Delta also make it possible to supply large-scale cities with green electricity.

However, the figures currently prove that Australia still has efforts to make in terms of photovoltaics. Australia currently only produces 2.2% of photovoltaic electricity in its mix. Throughout the world, however, the race for solar energy is well and truly underway and the technology continues to advance. In the Israeli desert, for example, 150,000 mirror panels reflect light up a tower to transform water into steam; in New Jersey, solar panels have been installed on the water.

Australia still has great possibilities for exploiting solar energy, particularly in regions like South Australia, Mulorina but also Tarcoola which benefit from very good levels of sunshine all year round! Many deposits are still to be exploited and the ecological, geopolitical, and economic context can only encourage this path. The government has understood this well by accelerating the decarbonization plan.

Australia turned out to be a country very suited to the development of Solar companies in Australia, particularly photovoltaics. Its sunny territory, its unexploited areas, and the number of its roofs suggest that it can produce much more and thus catch up, particularly compared to other European countries. Photovoltaic Park projects are developing and will certainly be encouraged in the very short term. Because there is an urgent need to catch up and gain energy independence... but green, such is the condition for a carbon-free future.

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