Australia is surging ahead on photovoltaic installations and is projected to hit a whopping 10,000 MW of solar power capacity in a few years. A new report by market analysts Sunwiz and Solar Business Services forecasts that the Australian photovoltaic market, which is currently at 2.5 GW, will likely grow to between 6 GW and 10 GW by as early as 2017. The report suggests that the owner-occupied, single-family residential market will soon be saturated with photovoltaic installations, so the solar industry will have to target more challenging sectors like the multi-family residential and commercial sectors.

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The national average number of owner-occupied, single-family homes to have solar photovoltaics in Australia is currently at 20%. In some areas it reaches 35%, with a few locations at 90% saturation. But the overall residential market penetration, including rentals and high-rises, is only at 10%. And because the residential market will still account for two-thirds of the overall solar market in Australia, even in 2017, the report suggests that the industry will have to focus on the more difficult sub-markets of rentals, high-rises and single-family homes in less than ideal locations for solar.

In addition to the residential market, the report says that the commercial sector will be a big swing factor in the growth of Australia’s solar power capacity. It forecasts a 15% rise in solar installations this year, with the commercial sector being a major factor in that increase. By 2014, the solar installations in the commercial sector may reach anywhere between 150MW and 350MW, according to the report. Much will depend on how local utilities react to this increase in solar power generation and if they decide to increase rates, which would make solar less attractive to commercial enterprises. But if solar in the commercial sector takes off, it will play a major role in Australia meeting its Renewable Energy Target.

One of the most promising things to come out of the report is that there is a healthy underlying market in Australia for solar, one free from the distortion of government incentives. According to the reports co-author, Nigel Morris of Solar Business Services, “Australia has taken on strategic importance internationally, as being the first market to sustain large volumes of PV without preferential subsidies.”

Via Clean Technica

Photos by Richard Gifford via Wikimedia Commons and User:Orderinchaos via Wikimedia Commons