The cost of solar energy storage has fallen to $10 per kilowatt-hour from $50,000 a year ago, according to the latest data from the Australian Renewable Energy Agency (ARENA).
The ARENA said the price drop was driven by the deployment of new technologies such as battery storage and flexible photovoltaic modules.
In July, solar power installed at Australian homes reached a record of 2.1 gigawatts, a record level for any country, eclipsing Japan’s capacity.
The record is an increase of 1,300 gigawatts (GW) from July.
In the same period, solar photovolcanic (PV) storage, a technology that uses molten salt to capture solar radiation and store it in a container, has reached a new record of 3.5GW, a number that has risen by 400 GW since July.
“The solar power industry is experiencing an unprecedented period of growth,” ARENA chief executive Peter Whitehead said.
“Solar PV is becoming a reality for Australians, and it’s also the world’s fastest growing renewable energy source.”
The ARSA said solar PV installed at home in July was 1,764.8MW, up 50.4 per cent on a year earlier.
But it noted that while the solar PV sector was up about 10 per cent, it was down about 15 per cent compared to a year before.
Mr Whitehead attributed this increase to the installation of new, more efficient PV modules.
The solar PV industry was up by 1,632.5MW in the year to June, compared to 1,527.9MW a year previously.
He said this was a reflection of the fact that more of Australia’s PV capacity was installed during that period.
“It was a big increase, but the number of units installed per customer fell,” Mr Whiteout said.
ARENA also noted that PV solar installations at homes in Australia rose by 5 per cent over the past year.
It is the second year in a row that solar PV is making its way into homes.
In June, the ARSA announced a record number of rooftop solar installations, with 4,000,000 households in Australia installed, a rise of 20 per cent from the previous year.
“With more than one million households in the market, solar PV will become a key component of our national energy mix by 2035,” Mr Whitesaid.
“We are also investing in the technology to support this growth in our grid and infrastructure.”
The rise in solar PV installations comes after a number of projects in the renewable energy sector were announced earlier this year.
The latest SolarCity contract with the Australian Energy Market Operator (AEMO) is one of the biggest in the world.
It will provide the grid with more than 2GW of power, at a price of $35 per megawatt-hours (MWh), for five years.
The company will be the first major utility to be able to offer solar power at retail.
AEMO chief executive Brian Hayes said the contracts were a “significant milestone” in the solar power sector.
“While the solar market is still in its infancy, we are pleased to see that major new contracts are now available,” he said.
The $15-a-megawatt contract will see solar PV modules from SolarCity provided to the AEMo’s grid in exchange for the grid’s support.
The AEM “will continue to provide solar power to the grid as part of our grid portfolio,” Mr Hayes said.
Mr Hayes also said the contract would “help accelerate the rollout of solar generation on the AEGO grid, enabling solar PV systems to achieve their full potential”.
The AECO said it was working closely with AEM in an effort to further improve the quality of the AECo’s system.
“In the coming weeks, we will continue to evaluate and improve the systems used by the AEPO to support the grid and achieve its target to have 100 per cent renewable generation by 2020,” Mr Glynn said.
AEPOC has been in the PV business since 2003.
AECOs grid has around 6.2GW of solar capacity installed at 1,500 retail locations in Australia, according the company’s website.
The system has a capacity of 1.8GW, of which 1.4GW is solar.
The contract with SolarCity is the latest in a string of deals that the company has signed with AEPOs grid.
ASEAN is currently working with Solar Energy Australia on a new contract to provide energy storage for AEPCO customers in Queensland.
“Australia is becoming an energy superpower, so we are investing in energy storage to support our national grid,” Mr Sean Kelly, chief executive of AEP, said.
He added that “in just one year we have seen the installation rate of new PV modules grow by 200 per cent”.
AEP was not the only energy provider to announce a new solar PV contract in the past 12 months.
In November, CSP