Australia's solar snowball

Yesterday, almost every solar and renewable advocacy and industry group in the country discussed key issues, including the accelerating speed of Australia's 'solar snowball'. The main topic was the RET however, and the conclusion: If it ain’t broke…

Yesterday, a little bit of Australian solar history was made.

For the very first time ever (that I am aware of) pretty much every solar and renewable advocacy, lobbying and industry organisation in the country got together around a table (with a couple of apologies from those unable to attend).

To their great credit, the Australian Solar Energy Society arranged this event. Although our associations do try to align, the reality is there are different agenda’s, priorities, ambitions and skill-sets so in the midst of the day to day grind everyone (myself included) just tends to get on with things and we don’t always communicate as much as we should. None of us are perfect.

It was a much needed, logical coming together of like-minded and engaged organisations and it was refreshing to hear a wide variety of views. A date for the next meeting is already set. As Commander Spock said “Logic is the beginning of wisdom, not the end”.

The topic of the day was a debate and discussion on the Renewable Energy Target, which seems to have taken the mantle as our industry’s softest target right now. Despite its extraordinarily low cost to government and society, and its incredible results in terms of helping stimulate demand and work towards a clean energy target, the RET has recently been coming under increasing attack.

It’s not a perfect scheme (show me one that is), but it is getting results, it is in place and it is understood by industry. That alone would seem reason enough to let it be. It ain’t broke, so don’t try to fix it.

Having said that there was unanimous agreement that the Clearing House is not clearing and this needs urgent attention. It was also agreed that the target is potentially out of step with what is likely to be delivered by the PV industry alone, let alone other renewable technologies.

I was fortunate to do a short presentation during which I talked about what has been happening recently in our industry and how we are in the process of dramatically lifting our forecasts for this year and the near term. We unequivocally have a most ironic ‘solar snowball’ ramping up speed and its headed straight at the enshrined, conventional energy industry. And they are somewhat miffed.

Around the fringes we also have a bunch of factors aligning. A 1MW solar farm with storage is going to be built by Infigen and McKinsey have forecast a 70 per cent drop in storage prices by 2025. AC modules are being released and sold in increasing amounts, a brand new product segment in Australia. Smart inverters and energy management devices are being prepared for release. And at a global level, Foxconn (one of the world’s largest electronics manufacturers) has announced “it’s in” the solar industry.

Next week is Clean Energy Week and I reckon the timing for this event is perfect; I for one am hugely excited about hearing the latest on these developments and painting a clearer picture of our solar snowball’s trajectory.

Nigel Morris is the Director of Solar Business Services.

This article was originally published by SolarBusinessServices. Republished with permission.

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