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Rooftop solar installs up 43% in 2017, on back of power market woes

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A summer of record high temperatures, heat waves and unplanned electricity outages appears to have put a rocket under the Australian rooftop solar market in 2017, with installations at end of February nearly 50 per cent up on the same time last year.

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According to the latest monthly insights report from SunWiz – based on data from Solar Choice – February was an excellent month for solar PV growth, and registrations have been clocked at 43 per cent better than 2016 YTD, driven largely by residential installs.

The February rebound marks the second best month for solar PV installs in Australia since 2013 – the best month since 2013 being December 2016.

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For both those months, market growth was no doubt spurred by consumer concern and frustration, as peak power prices soared, and record-breaking heatwaves combined with fossil fuel outages to cause black-outs and load-shedding.

As we reported here on Thursday, this trend is evident in data of the final few months of 2016 in South Australia, following the statewide blackout event there in September.

In an analysis of Clean Energy Regulator data, Solar Citizens noted that monthly solar installation rates jumped 17.65 per cent from October to December, compared to installation rates from January till September.

But as the chart below shows, growth in rooftop solar installs has not been limited to South Australia, with all of the major states rebounding, while Western Australia remained fairly steady, consolidating its position as third-largest installer, behind Queensland and NSW and ahead of Victoria.

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Commercial solar, which SunWiz notes is traditionally quieter over the summer holiday period, continues to grow in the minor states and territories, the report says.  

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  • trackdaze

    Clearly the people have listened to the federal government about cheap and secure electricity and decided it best to install and produce their own.

    I imagine with uptake of storage effectively above 5% of new solar installs last year we are looking at a very big year indeed.

    I can’t imagine liberal donors, minerals council, ipa, murdic will be pleased with this own goal of epic proportions.

    • phred01

      unless one has battery backup if the grid goes down the panels go off line too

      • Rod

        Hopefully most of these new installs are at least battery ready.
        Many more outages and storage will be next.

        • phred01

          even the current grid connect installs can be easily organized

          for battery back up. The electricity failures will become a driving force the incumbents will be powerless (haha) to resist

          • Rod

            I think outages will be a major driver for small to medium business but for individual households the almighty dollar will be their motivation.
            The 4 hour outage due to the storms affected me very little.

            If I was to add storage, I think I would be up for a new inverter.
            Guess, I’ll find out in 2028 when I lose my PFiT

          • phred01

            well, before pfit runs out electricity prices /kwhr will be approaching 60c. I already have had an inverter die after 5 yrs so probably u will need a new one by well before then.

          • Rod

            Yes, you could be right re 60c, I export much more than I import so it will be a while before storage makes $ense for me.
            If/when my inverter fails I’ll definitely look at a battery ready solution.

          • Hayden

            Rod, my Enphase batteries didn’t require an inverter.

          • Rod

            Micro-inverters on the panels?
            Truth be known, if I am still in this house when the PFiT runs out, I’ll go off grid.

          • Hayden

            No micro’s on the panels. You could call Roofjuice, (Sydney) for more detail on that

      • trackdaze

        Typically yes but not strictly true. An islanding inverter is required though and it makes sense to have energy storage and or a onsite generator with such an inverter.

        “Battery ready” systems i think will typically have such an inverter.

        • phred01

          One needs a decent DC to AC inverter something like 6kw continuous with a peak around 20kw. A grid tied inverter can be connected to the pure sinewave o/p ….known as AC coupling The DC to AC inverter will act as a charger for the storage batteries in this configuration

          • juxx0r

            FUD. 20kW. lol.

          • phred01

            you need this ability to start an electric motor without burning it out

          • trackdaze

            20kw? To power the drawbridge?

            Plenty of gear is soft start or can be peak managed.

          • Solar Sparky

            I take it then, that you’ve never heard of a little piece of kit called a VVVFD? Variable Voltage, Variable Frequency Drive – allows soft-start on motors, keeps peak currents / power to normal running maximum etc by adjusting voltage and frequency to compensate.

          • phred01

            Yes heard of these they are basically for large motor in industrial arena. In a domestic situation u may be running a hot plate an oven and a motor like a washing machine fridge aircon need to come on line…..To any great extent don’t find any domestic gear using VVVFD the technology. The startup is a potential problem for ordinary electric motors. Yes do know about smart washing machines & inverter fridges/ aircons these are not universally installed in everyone’s home

  • suthnsun

    Sensible people. Would they like storage with that?

  • George Darroch

    The NT still seems to have a very low level of installs.

  • phred01

    with electricity prices being gouged this will be the best incentive to go solar

  • Ian

    Grid-tied solar is relatively cheap and easy to install , solar, storage and the ability to island and go off grid is less easy.. If the number of solar installations have increased in response to the blackouts, what has been their point. Only solar with battery storage and the potential for grid independence will be useful in this circumstance. If a house has a grid tied system with a premium Tariff. Why not just install a second system with storage and off grid to take care of domestic needs and just use the old system to maximise exports.