The A.C.T. Government has announced as of May 2012 that the renewable energy targets set in 2010 have been met and actually exceeded by 4 percent , meaning Canberra now derives 24 percent of its energy production from solar powr, wind power and to a lesser extent bio-mass production.
The Australian National University (A.N.U.) has a significant globally recognised solar energy research untit (see http://solar.anu.edu.au/ for further information). They have active research programs run by Phil King Phd. on photovoltaic solar cell manufacture and production and concentrator solar thermal technology implementation,
designed to increase P.V. output by focussing light onto the solar panels. Their ctivities include defect detection and surface passivation in silicon wafers; high performance silicon solar cells, including SLIVER solar cells; modelling; plasmons and nano PV technology; hybrid PV/thermal parabolic trough concentrator systems; and solar cooling.
Lucas Sena from GoSolar A.C.T. has been detailing his experiences with solar power installation in Canberra and the uptake has been quite phenomenal compared to states like N.S.W. where renewable energy has been side lined it seems by the O’Farrell Government. Lucas claims that larger 5 kilo watt solar panel systems are now increasing in popularity as the cost of solar installation has decreased by 40 percent since 2009, mainly driven by Federal Government solar incentives and the ‘Solar Bonus Scheme’. Over 44,000 homes in Canberra have had solar panel systems installed in the last 4 years. Lucas says the move towards high quality and high reliability systems has been the trend over recent years as the media has run many stories on ‘low quality’ solar inverters and ‘dodgy’ solar installation practices. He mentioned that even without Government rebates solar is likely to become the ‘renewable energy source of choice’ in Canberra as the much touted ‘Carbon Tax’ starts to bite from July this year.
Both Lucas and Paul Davies from the A.N.U. think that solar panel efficiencies has easily reach greater than 30 percent over the next few years and access to carbon credit schemes will drive this research and fund it for several years to come.
I am currently interested in developing a consultancy that can integrate the A.N.U. research with both industrial scale and domestic solar installations, not only around Canberra and the A.C.T. but potentially to a global audience. The solar power initiatives at federal Government levels, supported by quality research at the A.N.U. and ‘ground level’ implementation and installation by groups and businesses like Lucas’s make for an attractive solar ‘co- operative’ that can feed high end solar products into ‘main stream’ Australian renewable energy programs – an exciting thought!