SUNNY STATE: NSW is home to some of Australia's largest solar plants.
SUNNY STATE: NSW is home to some of Australia's largest solar plants. iStock

Solar: Life-changing power

CREATED by the heat and light of the sun, solar energy has the power to change the way we live our lives.

When this energy is converted into electricity, it becomes solar power and can be used to heat air, water or other substances.

New South Wales currently has some of the best solar resources in the world.

Due to our drier regions, the state's global solar exposure has a high annual average and provides an ideal environment for large-scale solar systems.

According to the NSW Government website, since 2010, solar photovoltaic (PV) use in NSW has increased more than sixfold.

In 2015, more than 3per cent of the total electricity generated in the nation (including ACT) was from solar PV systems, both residential and commercial.

The Clean Energy Council found that in 2017, small-scale solar was responsible for 20.3per cent of Australia's clean energy generation and produced 3.4per cent of the country's total electricity.

More than 1.1GW of new solar capacity was installed in 2017, which was a new Australian record for a calendar year.

By the end of 2017, more than 1.8million small-scale solar power systems had been installed across the country.

More interestingly, there were 4912 accredited solar installers Australia-wide at the end of 2017.

This represented an increase of more than 600 compared to 2016.

With the central, northern and western regions of NSW having such low population densities, abundant open space and high average global solar exposure, the state's large-scale solar electricity industry will continue to flourish.

Solar PV systems have become significantly cheaper in recent years, which has seen an increase in the popularity of small-scale (home rooftop), medium-scale (rural, industrial and commercial) and large-scale solar projects.

The next big growth in the solar energy industry is predicted to be associated with the development of battery storage technologies.

The Australian Energy Market Operator has even predicted that, compared to other states, NSW will have the highest integration of rooftop solar systems and battery storage technology in the next 20 years.

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