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SA rooftop solar installs surge after statewide blackout

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Was it the candlelight that did it? New data suggests that the massive blackout that hit South Australian in September last year may have helped to rekindle the state’s love affair with rooftop solar, spurring a more than 17 per cent uptick in installations from October to December 2016.

In an analysis of Clean Energy Regulator data, Solar Citizens notes that monthly solar installation rates jumped 17.65 per cent in those last three months of 2016, compared to installation rates from January till September, as South Australians spent around $22 million on energy independence.

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The data also shows that installations from July to December 2016 jumped 21 per cent, compared to the first six months of the year – a trend that follows price spikes experienced in the state in July.

As many as 6,424 home rooftop solar systems were installed in the state in the six months from July 2016 – with half of that number installed after the blackout – taking South Australia to a grand total of 205,068 solar systems installed.

According to the data, the top five suburbs for solar installation since the blackout were in regional or outer suburban areas with incomes below the South Australian average.

The regional suburb of Waitpinga topped installs, followed closely by Smithfield Plains, Salisbury North, Angas Plains and Morphett Vale. Solar Citizens notes that this pattern closely mirrors SA’s leading suburbs for total solar installations, where three out of five have below average incomes.

“South Australians are sending a clear message with their wallets that they see clean solar power as a key part of the solution to rising energy costs and power security while tackling climate change,” Solar Citizens campaigner Dan Spencer said.

“While politicians attacked South Australia’s clean energy leadership, South Australians took action at home.

“(This) sends a clear message to all political parties that South Australians want to see investment in clean solutions for our power, not the misleading and ideologically-driven attacks on renewable energy they’ve seen in recent weeks and months. There couldn’t be a clearer opinion poll than South Australians rolling up their sleeves and investing $22 million in clean energy,” he said.

And battery storage could be next, Spencer says.

“Over 200,000 homes and businesses have now gone solar in SA and with batteries dropping in price South Australia can be powered with a mix of home solar and storage and the large renewable projects like solar thermal in Port Augusta, large scale battery storage and pumped hydro that are ready and waiting to be built in our state.”  

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  • Rod

    As I’ve driven and cycled around Adelaide of late I have noticed an uptick of PV installs and many around the 5kWhp size.
    However, I’m also a keen observer of the Live Generation widget and this increase doesn’t seem to have shown up in the State PV generation levels yet.

    • trackdaze

      Additional 5% of total installs probably won’t.

      I just wonder how many batteries were installed in SA as part of the 52Mwh and whether this would drop solar to the network?

      • Rod

        You are correct. 5% of the total wouldn’t be obvious.

        I shouldn’t generalise but most of the suburbs mentioned are low to middle income and I’m assuming not many would have included storage. It would be nice to know though.

  • MaxG

    I am happy for everyone who can install solar, and more so a battery… 🙂 it simply works… and I am happy to share my data to prove the point: http://www.pvoutput.org/list.jsp?p=0&id=11239 — click on a day, and then click the purple square under the graph to see what it going on …

  • I would happily pay for a subscription to RenewEconomy. It’s my go-to source for up to date news about what’s happening in the Australian renewables sector. Giles, Sophie and the regular contributors do an amazing job.

    There is one small request I would make. Please start adding links to source material where possible. I know it probably takes people off your site, but the valuable readers will come back time and time again.

    Cheers.

    Dave P.

    PS – for anyone interested in this particular story, useful links:
    Solar Citizens Press Release: http://www.solarcitizens.org.au/media_releases
    CER Data: http://www.cleanenergyregulator.gov.au/RET/Forms-and-resources/Postcode-data-for-small-scale-installations#SGU–Solar-Deemed
    CER Summary: http://www.cleanenergyregulator.gov.au/Infohub/Media-Centre/Pages/Resources/RET%20media%20resources/Cracking-the-small-scale-code—January-2017.aspx

  • Damon Schultz

    In the interests of clarity, the suburbs listed are Adelaide’s most populous — Morphett Vale, Salisbury North and Smithfield Plains in particular are huge.

  • Ren Stimpy

    I look at that picture and think what a waste of perfect rooftop space. 10 panels when there could easily have been 24.

    Surely there’s a company out there who would pay for 14 panels to be on that roof and also 60% of the installation costs. The owner gets an installation discount on his/her 10 panels, the company gets the revenue from the 14 extra panels, and the installer is already on the job up on the roof so the extra installation cost is minimal, so why not utilise that existing installer resource to maximize the number of panels in the space available.