This group brings together the best thinkers on energy and climate. Join us for smart, insightful posts and conversations about where the energy industry is and where it is going.


Over 1 GW And 11,000 Jobs in Australia Solar Energy Over 2012

The Australian Photovoltaic Association (APVA) announced last week that 2012 had been a great year for the Australian photovoltaic industry, installing over 1 GW of capacity (nearly half the nation’s current solar panel capacity of 2.6 GW) and employing approximately 11,000 people.

Furthermore, the APVA affirmed that the average price of installing a solar photovoltaic system has dropped to prices even lower than those seen in 2011.

Specifically, 1.038 GW of solar PV capacity was installed in 2012, more than any other year previously, including the 2010 and 2011 boom years. Of this 1.038 GW, 98% was from distributed systems across the grid, accounting for 4.5% of Australia’s total energy generation capacity and 70% of the new capacity installed in 2012.


Unsurprisingly rooftop solar was the primary force behind 2012′s solar growth, thanks in large part to the growing popularity of personal home rooftop installations providing some measure of independence from rising electricity prices.

Further good news was found in the number of jobs the solar industry provided a nation seemingly preternaturally struck my frustratingly high unemployment numbers.


The solar industry employed around 11,000 people across the nation. A significant percentage were involved in installation and maintenance — which is not itself a negative, but must be seen in terms of the role’s inherent fluctuation — though over 2000 of the jobs were placed in technology research and development, government positions, finance, and sales.


As photovoltaic technology matures, so too does the manufacturing process and thus the costs conversely drop. This can be a catch-22 for the industry if inexperienced analysts bring their comments to the party: Lower costs are inherently a good thing for a new industry, as it opens up the market penetration beyond simply early-adopters. However, due to the dropping costs the profits decrease, which tends to worry investors.

Installation of a PV system has continuously dropped, though the fall between 2011 and 2012 was not as great as in previous years. The average, unsubsidised cost per watt of installing a system in 2012 was approximately $3, versus $3.90 in 2011.


The APVA data is matched by Solar Choice’s own internal data with regard to 1.5kW and 2kW solar PV systems.

The Australian solar industry will benefit in years to come as technology costs minimise the installation cost, however the entrenchment of the Australian coal industry will force renewable energy markets to face stiff opposition, moreso than in other countries.

Over 1 GW And 11,000 Jobs in Australian Solar Industry Over 2012 was originally published on: CleanTechnica. To read more from CleanTechnica, join over 30,000 others and subscribe to our free RSS feed, follow us on Facebook (also free!), follow us on Twitter, or just visit our homepage (yep, free).

Joshua Hill's picture
Thank Joshua for the Post!
Energy Central contributors share their experience and insights for the benefit of other Members (like you). Please show them your appreciation by leaving a comment, 'liking' this post, or following this Member.
More posts from this member


Spell checking: Press the CTRL or COMMAND key then click on the underlined misspelled word.
Paul O's picture
Paul O on Jul 24, 2013

Joshua, Solar PV is not an independent baseload dispatchable energy source. When without storage, It is dependent on other sources to be there when it is producing Nothing.


Joshua, in my opinion, Australia is wasting its money by choosing PV, they should have spent all that money on CSP. Australia has lots and lots of sunshine but PV is a huge mistake. Here are the reasons:

1) PV produces energy intermittently/ CSP can produce it continuously and steadily

2) PV produces ZERO energy EVERY DAY for more hours than it produces energy. CSP produces Continuously and steadily

3) PV at present CANNOT displace/replace/retire any CO2 producing FF plants. CSP can Displace FF plants

4) PV panels will have to be replaced in 20-25 years, putting Australia back where it started. CSP does not need such replacements


Joshua, had Australia spent all that money build CSP, OR a combination of PV backed by CSP...Then.

1) They would have  year round power,

2) They Would have been able to retire a coal powered plant.

3)  They Might have spent less money


Joshua, It seems the PV association has done a good job selling their pet projects to Australia, as to other countries as well.

Jean-Marc D's picture
Jean-Marc D on Jul 24, 2013

The number of people in installation and maintenance is not a good percentage, but almost 90% of them.

So almost 10 000 people doing installation and maintenancefor for only 1 GW of solar seems quite a lot, and will generate high cost. Those 1 GW generate more or less as much electricity as a 150 MW thermal unit. They are not by very far 10 000 people employed in a 150 MW thermal unit which means the cost is inherently much higher.

That manpower cost is the one that won’t go away and sets a minimum to how low costs will go. They seem to be stabilizing at around $3/Wp, and because of that, may go down to $2, but not much more.

You can have jobs, or you can have cheap, but you can’t have both, that’s inherently incompatible.

Get Published - Build a Following

The Energy Central Power Industry Network is based on one core idea - power industry professionals helping each other and advancing the industry by sharing and learning from each other.

If you have an experience or insight to share or have learned something from a conference or seminar, your peers and colleagues on Energy Central want to hear about it. It's also easy to share a link to an article you've liked or an industry resource that you think would be helpful.

                 Learn more about posting on Energy Central »