Australia installed 900MW of new solar PV last year to reach 5.1GW of capacity, boosting its international renewable energy ranking.
While that total ranked Australia 10th in the world, countries not known for sunshine are streaks ahead, according to the REN21 Global Status report on renewable energy.
Typically cloudy United Kingdom installed almost twice as much solar power as Australia by the end of 2015, which Clean Energy Council chief executive Kane Thornton said was disappointing.
“Solar power is an area where we should be giving the British an absolute whipping and, with investment confidence returning, we’re hopeful that we’ll give them a much better run for their money in 2016,” Mr Thornton said.
Australia’s wind energy performance was less impressive, failing to make the top 10 nations despite having good wind resources.
An estimated 147GW of renewable power capacity was added in 2015, the largest annual increase ever, while renewable heat capacity increased by around 38 gigawatts-thermal (GWth), with total biofuels production also rising. This growth occurred despite tumbling global prices for all fossil fuels, ongoing fossil fuel subsidies and other challenges facing renewables, including the integration of rising shares of renewable generation, policy and political instability, regulatory barriers and fiscal constraints.
For the sixth consecutive year, renewables outpaced fossil fuels for net investment in power capacity additions globally.
“Although many of the initiatives announced in Paris and elsewhere did not start to affect renewable markets in 2015, there were already signs that a global energy transition is under way,” the report said.
“Renewable energy provided an estimated 19.2 per cent of global final energy consumption in 2014, and growth in capacity and generation continued in 2015.”