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Australia to break through 5GW rooftop solar mark in July

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The amount of rooftop solar installed across Australia is expected to break through the 5GW mark in July, reaching a remarkable milestone in a sector that was virtually non-existent in 2009.

New data released by solar statistician and consultancy Sunwiz shows that 64MW of rooftop solar was added across the country in the month of June, taking the national cumulative total to 4.964GW. At current rates of installation, the 5GW threshold should be broken in the next week or two.

solar installations

The Australian solar market has slowed down considerably since its peak in 2012 and 2013, at the height of premium feed in solar tariffs offered by the states.

But the market is still growing at around 700MW-800MW a year, and is expected to accelerate as more houses consider battery storage, particularly with a new surge in electricity bills caused by the surging price of gas and gas-fired generation.

solar systems numbers

The state with the most solar capacity remains Queensland, which is now at 1.534GW, followed by NSW (1.07GW) and Victoria (935MW). Rooftop solar is now thought to account for around 3 per cent of total consumption in Australia.

A recent report suggested that more than 1.5 million Australian households and businesses have invested more than $8 billion in rooftop solar (net of subsidies), and are saving around $1 billion a year on their electricity bills.

“5GW of rooftop solar demonstrate how much the people of Australia love solar, and what’s more they prefer generating their own power than buying it from a coal fired power station,” says Warwick Johnston, the director of Sunwiz.

Forecasts vary for the future growth of rooftop solar PV, but one of the most authoritative comes from Bloomberg New Energy Finance, which predicts 38GW of rooftop solar by 2040. (See Australia’s big energy switch from coal and gas to wind and solar).

Solar investor and financier Lighthouse Infrastructure, however, predicts 52GW of solar by the same year, although this includes large scale installations. (See Australia to get 52GW of solar capacity in dramatic energy transformation).

Sunwiz says one of the most interesting aspects of the market in the latest month is the growing share of commercial-scale rooftop solar (on the rooftops of businesses), which now accounts for 30 per cent of the market. This is seen by many as the biggest untapped market sector in Australia.

Another interesting trend is the growing reach of the major utilities such as AGL Energy and Origin Energy, whose efforts to recapture a share of the rooftop solar installation market are paying dividends, although they continue to trail the largest installation companies.

sunwiz biggest installers  

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  • Tim Forcey

    You can also use solar PV to efficiently heat your water, by using a heat pump. This is another way to store energy. http://reneweconomy.com.au/2015/get-more-out-of-your-solar-power-system-by-using-water-as-a-battery-26228

  • Peter F

    Further to that you can use a heat pump to heat water for a hydronic heating system. With a reasonably large tank, (800 litres+) you can also use fairly low temperatures around 30-40C vs 55 to 60C for hot water. The low temperature increases the efficiency of the heat pump and pumping water to radiators uses a lot less energy than pumping air around the house. If you are lucky enough to have a pool in a sunny spot and cover it with a solar blanket and use the pool water as a heat source you can probably heat a whole house with no more than 4-6kW.hrs per day of electricity.

  • trackdaze

    Massive amount of rooftop space in the business sector available. Solar needs to get below about 13c a kw to be viable for businesses with 100000 kws per annum that can neģotiate supply contracts. Typically usage aligns with the sun. So its a no brainer.

    • Yes and technology and the market will always determine what happens. All governments can do is assist or interfere.

    • disqus_6E6jkQ32db

      It is well below that according to my calculations. Even a residential system generates power at less than 5 cents per kilowatt hour…
      Quick maths: Price per kilowatt of system ~$1,000
      Output per day 5~6 kilowatt hours
      Life of system ~ 15 years (normally longer)
      So: 5 kw/hours x 365 x 15 = 27,375 kw/hours generated during our 1 kilowatt system’s life.
      System cost $1,000 / 27,375 = $0.0365
      Surely a large system costs less than that per kilowatt?

      • trackdaze

        Perversely, Networks and commercial energy providers tariff structure discourages less usage. High service charges.

        I dont think commercial solar sized 100kw+ systems attract sres certificates reducing system cost?

        • disqus_6E6jkQ32db

          Even without sres surely a system would be generating power at less than the 13c kw/h you used?
          If you change my guesstimate $1,000 per kw into $2,000 per kw; it’s still only about 7 cents per kw/hour

  • stalga

    My fundamental understanding of economics and mathematics has always led me to believe that numbers cannot ever lie, they can only ever tell a story, or two, or three or more….. The numbers……… they always add up, they always tell the story.

    Numbers are facts.

  • Tim Buckley

    As Trackdaze says, the scope for distributed solar in Australia is fivefold relative to current levels, with commercial, industrial and retail yet to really commence. As grid charges and higher wholesale prices continue to rise, these sectors will get increasingly cross grid parity and then we will see a real boom in installs, given the economies of scale will accelerate the installed price deflation trend of the last five years.
    Also, rooftop installs this year are averaging 5kW systems whereas prior to 2015, installs averaged 2kW. So retrofitting 1 million systems and doubling their size will add another 2GW alone, and this will be obvious when each of these goes to add a battery system in the next few years to further reduce 55c/kWh TOU peak electricity grid consumption, sparking a retrofit cycle of upgrades and expansions.

  • Alen T

    $1 billion in savings = $1 billion in lost revenue by utilities,…ouch.