Australia leads the world on solar per capita – at 664 watts per person

Australia has been ranked as the country with the world’s highest installed solar PV capacity per capita – at roughly 644W per person – in the latest global stocktake by the International Energy Agency.

The IEA’s Trends in Photovoltaic Applications 2020, published this week, tallies the installation of solar PV around the world for 2019, when a total of 112 GW was installed globally, up from 103GW in 2018, taking the total installed capacity to more than 623GW.

And while Australia doesn’t quite make the IEA’s 2019 list of top five installers of PV for the year – it came in at number six, up one spot from 2018 – it leads the world with the highest penetration of PV per inhabitant, followed by Germany and Japan.

All up for the year, the IEA calculates that Australia installed a total of 4.8 GW for the year, which contributed to a total PV capacity of 16.3GW at the end of 2019 – “a tremendous level given the country’s population,” the report said.

“Australia is a perfect example of how competitive PV development is an easy task, with penetration levels which are now making the country the global number one in terms of PV capacity per capita,” the IEA said.

“The decline in incentives, matched with the increasing competitiveness of PV, has had little impact on the PV market. Australia is also home of one of the key world-class research centres on PV.”

For 2020, the report shows that Australia is on track to deliver roughly the same amount of new capacity, again, having installed another 3.8GW up to the end of September.

According to a list of statistics taken from the report by the Australian Photovoltaics Institute (APVI) shows that at the end of September this year, Australia’s total installed PV capacity had grown from 16.3GW at the end of 2019 to 18.5GW.

“Australia and the United States are also the most mature markets when it comes to storage, with respectively 2.7GWh and 1GWh installed by the end of 2019,” the APVI said.

The IEA report found that the top 10 countries by new PV installation by the end of 2019 started with China in number one position, followed by the US, India, Japan, Vietnam, Australia, Spain, Germany, Ukraine and Korea.

For the seventh year in a row, China installed the largest amount of PV, installing more than 30.1 GW, and representing 29% of global installation in 2019, the report found – even as the nation’s annual total has been in decline, down from 44.3GW and 52.9GW in 2018 and 2017 respectively.

APVI – which leads Australia’s engagement in the IEA PV Power Systems program – says the noteworthy trend of 2019 was the growth of the global PV market, despite the Chinese market slow-down.

“Utility-scale PV systems have dominated the PV market in 2019; however, distributed PV systems, namely on commercial and industrial premises, are becoming more important in many countries, including Australia, due to their favourable economics. In particular when combined with increased self-consumption and battery storage.” the APVI said in an analysis of the IEA’s findings.

“Additionally, new market segments are emerging such as floating PV and agri-PV, the combination of PV with agriculture.

The report notes that Covid-19 will have a limited impact on PV market growth in 2020, with some countries experiencing a reduction in installations due to lockdown measures, while others experienced larger residential uptakes boosted by government recovery plans.

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