Griffith Hack Clean & Sustainable Technologies

ACF releases Australian Solar Report – Ambitions at odds with local innovation by Justin Blows
August 16, 2010, 8:53 am
Filed under: Feature

Below, I copy the executive summary of a report released by the Australian Conservation Foundation, titled Building Australia’s Big Solar.

I really hope it happens – we sorely need it and as the report points out our solar resources are excellent.   This report is not standing by itself – others support the ease at which this vision could be achieved.

The report states that big solar is ready to go in Australia, but the right government incentives are not in place.  From our own work, reported here, we note that the quality of Australian Solar Innovation – once the envy of the world – has been declining in recent years.  Again, some would say the driver of the decline is the climate change and technology policy vacum in Australia.  

And the cover of the report?  It’s a photo of an installation by BrightSource Energy Inc – an American company.  Couldn’t they find an Australian solar company for the front cover?

Executive Summary from the Report follows.

Australia has one of the world’s best and biggest solar energy resources, yet today less than one per cent of our electricity is generated from this clean energy source. Big solar projects – power stations with a capacity greater than 10 megawatts – are taking off around the globe, with construction underway and planned from the United States to China and the Middle East. Australia can be part of this clean energy resource boom, creating thousands of new jobs and helping make clean energy cheaper, if the right incentives are put in place now. Twenty two publically announced big solar power plants are currently proposed for Australia, including seven in Queensland and three each in New South Wales, Victoria, South Australia and Western Australia. Many others remain under commercial in confidence. In total 52 solar power plants bigger than 150 megawatts (MW) were submitted to the Government’s Solar Flagships program in 2010, yet only two will receive funding. If all of the Solar Flagships projects went ahead, Australia would have more than 10,000MW of big solar plants installed, generating around 16,000 gigawatt hours of solar electricity generation per year. In simple terms, this would equate to generating enough electricity for 2.2 million Australian homes and add an extra five per cent on top of Australia’s renewable energy target of 20 per cent by 2020 target. The International Energy Agency (IEA) has found that by 2020 concentrated solar power could provide 5 per cent of Australia’s electricity. The Victorian Government has made a strong step forward with its commitment to a five per cent big solar target by 2020. The Australian Government can and should match or beat the five per cent big solar target. ACF proposes a five point plan to build Australia’s big solar industry and cut pollution: 1. Put a price tag on pollution to make clean energy cheaper for customers 2. Establish a Clean Energy Finance Corporation (CEFC) to give clean energy companies the sort of benefits export companies currently receive 3. Establish a Big Solar and Emerging Technology Scale Up Scheme to ensure we build the equivalent of at least 50 solar flagships projects by 2020 4. Double Australia’s renewable energy target to 40 per cent by 2020 5. Create a Clean Energy Infrastructure Fund

Justin Blows


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