This is the sixth annual ACAP report also incorporating that of the Australia–US Institute for Advanced Photovoltaics (AUSIAPV), with ACAP activities supported by the Australian Government through the Australian Renewable Energy Agency (ARENA).
Solar photovoltaics involves the direct generation of electricity from sunlight when this light shines upon solar cells packaged into a solar module. Silicon is the most common material used to make these photovoltaic cells, similarly to its key role in microelectronics, although several other photovoltaic materials are being actively investigated.
2018 was another big year for photovoltaics both in Australia and internationally. Solar installations in Australia increased by over 3.7 GW during the year, a massive increase of more than three times compared to 2017, the previous record year. This new capacity alone is expected to boost solar’s contribution to total Australian electricity generation by 3.2%. Even more importantly, it will significantly improve the power network’s ability to meet peaks in electricity demand during summer heatwaves, where solar is proving far more reliable than conventional coal generators.
The other big news from an Australian perspective is that the international manufacturing capacity for the Australian invented and developed PERC (passivated emitter and rear cell) increased sufficiently to surpass the capacity of all other technologies by the end of the year. From 2019 onwards, PERC will become the cell manufactured in the highest volume internationally.