Australia claims leadership in rooftop solar
Coal-rich Australia says it installed 785 megawatts of rooftop solar power in 2012, making it world leader in this category.
The Australian government's Clean Energy Regulator and the International Energy Agency said most of these installations were mostly small-scale panel systems on residences and businesses. It is a surprising accomplishment given Australia’s population of only 23 million is much less than renewable energy leaders Germany, China, Japan and the United States.
Rooftop solar systems produce 1% of Australia's electricity. That amount is expected to increase to 3% within 10 years.
Australia aims to derive 20% of its electricity from renewable sources by 2020. In 2011, renewable energy accounted for some 7% of the country's total electricity generation. In contrast, coal supplies 75% of Australia's electricity.
''It took me by surprise that we were first, because Germany and Italy are so big,'' Ric Brazzale, the president of Australia's REC Agents Association, a body representing traders and creators of renewable energy certificates.
Government support for residential was a key reason for this leadership. It doubled the rebate for small solar-power systems five years ago and afterwards continued to offer attractive packages for households.