8 Solar intermittency - Australian industry experts

Figure 80 shows the growth of installed PV capacity over the last two decades in various countries around the world [63].

The PV penetration level in Australia is still relatively low by some international comparisons, but PV uptake is growing significantly at present from a small base. The growth of PV installations in New South Wales in 2010 can be seen from the number of connections and installations recorded throughout the year, shown in Table 15 [64]. The total installed PV capacity increased from 24.7 MW to 100.8 MW (i.e. an increase of 300%) in just nine months.

Figure 80 Global growth of PV capacity [63]

Table 15 NSW total connections, installed capacity and applications as at October 2010 [64]

Data/Network Energy Australia Integral Energy Country Energy Total
Prior 1 Jan 2010
Number of connections 6,554 3,346 5,179 15,079
Capacity (MW) 9.8 5.5 9.4 24.7
Average system size (kW) 1.5 1.6 1.8 1.6
30 June 2010
Number of connections 10,520 8,557 9,436 28,513
Capacity (MW) 16.5 15.9 20.0 52.3
Average system size (kW) 1.6 1.9 2.1 1.8
Early October 2010
Number of connections 17,456 15,388 17,448 50,292
Capacity (MW) 29.5 30.9 40.4 100.8
Average system size (kW) 1,7 2.0 2.3 2.0
Applications (includes connections)
Number of applications 28,242 21,900 33,138 83,280
Capacity (MW) 53.2 47.0 92.7 193.0
Average system size (kW) 1.9 2.1 2.8 2.3

Differences in the rate of PV connections between the distribution network areas may be as a result of variation in population levels and dwelling types. Note that the distribution networks mentioned here recently changed their names: Energy Australia becoming Ausgrid, Integral Energy is now Endeavour Energy and Country Energy is Essential Energy. Table 16 shows reported connections as of 30 June, 2010 on a per capita and per dwelling basis. Note that ‘suitable’ dwellings are defined as owner-occupied freestanding or semi-detached households (as opposed to rented houses or units without roof access).

Table 16 PV system connections in NSW by Distribution area [64]

Network Connections PV Systems Per 1000 People PV Systems Per 1000 Dwellings Systems Per 1000 Suitable Dwellings
EnergyAustralia 10,520 3.3 7.8 16.6
Integral Energy 8,557 4.1 11.1 18.9
Country Energy 9,436 5.5 12.5 22.1
Total and averages 28,513 4.1 9.9 18.8

Several programs funded by the Federal Government will see the development of large-scale solar plants, causing a large increase in the penetration of solar power in Australia. These programs include Solar Cities and the proposed Solar Flagships projects.

This project is based around a macro-level examination of the solar intermittency issue and its likely impacts on Australia’s electricity networks. A major part of the work done in the early stage of this project focussed on identifying and understanding the issues key solar industry stakeholders in Australia face due to solar intermittency. Another goal was to obtain stakeholders’ perspectives on what is needed to remove barriers caused by the intermittent nature of renewable generation, to enable large-scale solar deployment in Australia. An industry workshop and a survey were conducted to obtain the views of key solar industry experts on solar intermittency in the Australian context.