Australia is fast becoming a ‘solar nation’. Solar photovoltaic (PV) power is installed on almost 200,000 rooftops across Australia. In 2010, Australia had over 300 megawatts (MW) of solar PV capacity installed nationwide, an increase of almost ten times in less than two years.
On top of this, there is currently $1.75 billion in government support for the research and development, and deployment of solar energy. This funding befits a sector which must have its eye on the main game – international competitiveness.
A building block for the industry
The Australian solar industry should be one of the bright spots for our country’s future economic development. However, we need to work harder to provide solid foundations to support our international competitiveness, especially at a time when our currency is threatening our export sector.Article continues below…
Australia has shown leadership at the international standardisation level in solar, holding the secretariat for the International Organisation for Standardisation Technical Committee 180 Solar Energy, and participating on the International Electrotechnical Commission Technical Committee 82 Solar PV Energy Systems. It’s important we maintain this international focus.
Consultation for criteria
The development of Australia’s solar energy industry is a major issue for Standards Australia stakeholders. We are actively engaged with key industry and government participants.
There are already a host of Australian standards to support solar development, covering issues such as radiation testing, energy calculation, domestic heating, installation of PV arrays and grid connections.
In March 2011, Standards Australia convened the Emerging Markets Energy Sector Forum, attended by renewable energy and low-emission industry players, with the objectives of developing strategic directions for national standards development and determining the terms of reference for the future operation of the group.
The solar industry was represented as a key part of this forum. It was the first time industry players and stakeholders from the solar and low-emission energy sectors came together on standardisation strategy. The forum marked the starting point of what will be an ongoing discussion about how to develop relevant, internationally-aligned standards to support innovation and growth in solar.
Growth from standardisation
Because of the rigour and independence of our standards development process, we believe Australian standards will be the cornerstone of the ongoing development of the Australian solar industry.
We maintain a high level of involvement in international standardisation and continue to take a lead role in standards development in the Asia Pacific region, ensuring our standards support interoperability and trade objectives.
Through our impartial standards development process, we look forward to continuing to work with the solar industry to expand its growth through the development of nationally relevant and internationally-aligned Australian standards to further promote its expansion.
Colin Blair is the Chief Executive of Standards Australia. Mr Blair is also the Chairman of the Pacific Area Standards Congress and a Director of Construction Information Systems. With a high level of experience in the development and application of standards at both the operational and policy level, Mr Blair has represented Australia in international forums such as the Asia Pacific Economic Co-operation.