The AEMO has also released its Rooftop PV Information Paper, further recognising home solar power as a significant player in Australia's energy mix.
According to the paper, Australia's National Electricity Market (NEM) has seen a rapid uptake of rooftop PV over the last four years, with total installed capacity rising from 23 MW in 2008 to an estimated 1,450 MW by the end of February this year. The amount of electricity generated by rooftop solar panels in 2011 is estimated by the AEMO to have been around 1,200 gigawatt hours. While still a small amount in the big picture of Australia's energy generation scene, the AEMO says it is an "observable level in the NEM". While the AEMO believes the popularity of rooftop solar power systems has had no significant operational impact on the wholesale market, this has the potential to occur if capacity starts to impact investments in the network and/or large scale generation.
However, as we reported earlier, energy advisory firm EnergyQuest cites the uptake of solar PV to be a contributing factor in a huge reduction in the cost of wholesale electricity during the first quarter of this year. This reported downward pressure on wholesale electricity costs can be attributed to solar's Merit Order Effect. Based on a moderate growth scenario, installed capacity of solar panels is forecast by the AEMO to reach 5,100 MW (5.1 gigawatts) by 2020 and almost 12,000 MW (12 gigawatts) by 2031. The AEMO says uptake of rooftop solar panel systems is expected to be relatively restrained to 2017- averaging 320 MW annually under its moderate scenario - due mainly to reductions or axing of feed-in tariffs for new installations and decreased demand from installations. From 2018 onwards, uptake is expected to accelerate.