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Milking the Australian Taxpayer: The Solar PV Industry Keeps the Cream

August 18, 2010

The Australian PV Association (APVA) publishes an annual report on the state of PV in Australia in accordance with an MOU with the International Energy Agency Cooperative Program on PV Power Systems.

The 2009 paper (published in May 2010) states that the Australian PV market had a value of AUD$800m.  Of this, $300m was spent on imported PV products (p34). 

Public subsidy expenditure distribution is heavily skewed to funding of deployment, as follows:

The AVPA paper states (my italics):

The trend in PV module prices in current Australian $ is shown in Table 6. Prices have remained relatively high, in line with rebate support, but have reduced somewhat in 2009, due to a strong exchange rate, global price reductions and a significant increase in market competition in Australia.

Source: APVA May 2010

Those module prices indicate that, with PV module production prices trending inexorably towards the dollar mark, someone, somewhere, is indeed making a tidy margin.

With public expenditure skewed towards deployment, and much of that deployment expenditure in turn being spent on imported panel products, it is clear that it is not Australian value-add companies benefiting from many of those dollars spent.

Nor have cost reductions been passed on to Australian consumers.

With the ramp-up in public subsidy support mechanisms in 2010 (dedicated small generator component of the Renewable Energy Target, NSW Gross Feed-in-Tariff) this phenomenon will only be accentuated.

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4 Comments leave one →
  1. Bruce Armstrong permalink
    March 6, 2011 12:14 am

    As a consumer, I am used to being milked and gouged by suppliers.

    First Solar in the USA recently announced that they had achieved a cost price of $0.74 per watt for thin film panels, a far cry from the $7 per watt for installed systems in Australia.

    It is a sad state of affairs to think that Australia was the world leader in PV cell research in the 1990s and that virtually all of the technology has fled overseas because of the total lack of support from our government.

    It seems that making anything here is not considered worthwhile.

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