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Australia adds 97MW rooftop solar in September, set for record 1GW in 2017

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sunwiz semptember

Australian households and businesses added another 97MW of rooftop solar in 2017, setting a record for the first nine months of the year of 780MW and putting it on track to break through the 1,000MW, or 1 gigawatt, mark for the first time in 2017.

The record level of installations is clearly a response from consumers – household and business – to the soaring cost of electricity from the grid, which jumped around 20 per cent in July due to the rise in wholesale prices caused by an increase in the cost of gas, and the big players exercising their market power.

Australia has now installed some 6.1GW of small-scale rooftop solar since 2010, but the current boom – which has seen households and business invest around $2 billion in their own solar installations – is bigger than the investment surges prompted by overly generous feed in tariffs.

Queensland still leads the way, according to data from industry statistician SunWiz, adding another 27MW in the month to take its total to 1.85GW, followed by NSW (now at 1,3GW) and Victoria (1.14GW).

Rooftop solar and battery storage is expected to play an increasingly important role in the modern grid, both in reducing demand from the grid, including during peak periods, and through its ability to add battery storage and provide services to the grid.

Many estimate that distributed generation – rooftop solar, battery storage, community projects, and demand response, can account for half of all electricity demand within a few decades.

Here solar veteran Nigel Morris discuss the 1GW solar mark, and the volatility in STC prices – and their implications for consumers and installers – in our latest Solar Insiders Podcast.

   

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  • Steve Applin

    This is an issue which I’ve taken a keen interest in, and I like to keep an eye on the solar generation on NEM Watch. Does anyone know why NEM watch never shows that we are generating anywhere near 6 GWH? The best I can recall seeing it is somewhere around 3 GHW.

    • George Darroch

      Rooftop capacity factor is limited by a couple of things.

      Firstly, peak insolation is a few months off so we wouldn’t expect to see the largest annual number until mid-late December. Roof-mounted solar is at a fixed angle, and this is often determined by the sloping roof rather than an optimal fixed angle (which in turn is lower than axial tracking solar).
      A number of things can lower the efficiency of domestic solar systems and their ability to turn that into electricity, such as overheating or lack of maintenance (few people wash their panels frequently enough). Then there’s the matter of turning that PV energy into electricity, and there are further conversion losses through wiring and inverters which are less evident for well-planned large scale solar plants.

      Edit: and it’s not sunny all the time, obviously.

      This is just a layperson’s understanding, I’m sure others can correct me if I’ve missed things or got anything wrong.

      • George Darroch

        On the flipside, it’s encouraging that many of these issues are generally being improved with time. Installers get better at installing in sites and beating their limitations, panels get higher temperature ratings, and electrical systems become more efficient.

    • David leitch

      I don’t believe rooftop PV ever generates much above 70% of its rated capacity. Not sure why that is myself, but pretty sure its the case.
      Also the AEMO numbers and indeed those from APVI are only ever estimates, and its interesting to think about how accurate those estimates are likely to be.

      Also I’m sure you mean 6Gw

      • I get 4.3kW out of my 5kW array – so 86% for multiple mid-day hours -and that is an east west array, so split 50-50 in opposing directions. suspect that cloud, shading, geographic spread, poor inverter quality affects much of the assumed output,.

      • Steve Applin

        Yep sorry I do mean GW, not GWH.

        I’ve got a 6.25kw array overloaded on a 5kW SMA inverter with the panels oriented roughly north and west. I’ve got a SATEC EM-133 installed behind the gate and I sub meter the solar, so I’ve got a really good understanding of how much my system produces and when. Its been a sunny few days in Perth and my kWh output has been in the high 30’s all week.

        Based on that understanding I’ve extrapolated from that that PV output, on average, should be a lot higher. I do take your point about poor quality systems, shading, degredation, panel orientation etc all affeting output.

  • Joe

    And thank you to all those energy majors that price gouged on 1/7/2017…the best ever advertisement for rooftop solar and home batteries

  • Steve Applin

    Thanks for the responses everyone