Another “extraordinary” month for solar, as homes “max out” roof space

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New analysis shows “extraordinary” amount of rooftop solar installed in February, with more homes seeking to “max out” available roof space with modules.

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One Step Off The Grid

The Australian rooftop solar market has experienced another strong month – possibly the highest ever – in February, adding to expectations that 2018 will be another record year for installations.

According to data from Green Energy Markets, there was 117.4MW of rooftop solar that created STCs (certificates) in the month of February.

This is actually higher than the record month of November, but according to GEM’s Tristan Edis, could be clipped back when some systems are identified as invalid.

Still, February had just 20 working days compared to November’s 22, and according to Edis: “These are extraordinary numbers.

“While we expect a fair chunk of this capacity in February in fact reflects installs and sales that were locked in from last year, the market is well above where it was the same time last year, and that ultimately turned into a record year for capacity.”

Interestingly, GEM’s analysis suggests that the bulk of rooftop solar systems between 10kW and 15kW are going on to homes, not businesses, as previously thought. (See graph above and transition from dotted blue component to dotted green).

“It seems that with the large drop in module prices many residential customers are now choosing to max out their roof with as much solar as they can fit.”

This article was originally published on RenewEconomy’s sister site, One Step Off The Grid, which focuses on customer experience with distributed generation. To sign up to One Step’s free weekly newsletter, please click here.

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34 Comments
  1. IanP 8 months ago

    While there are many upgraders putting in new larger systems, there is the point that the old panels, now appearing on the market for anything from ‘free’ to $70 are being re-installed and not trashed. I just purchased 16x 190W PV panels no older than 5 years for $15/panel. This is less than the cost of new Colorbond roof sheeting. There has never been a better time to get into solar than now!

    • Kevfromspace 8 months ago

      Ian, from where/whom can you purchase second hand solar panels?

      • Alistair Spong 8 months ago

        the usual places – ebay , b&s and beer economy on facebook , i havent tried but i reckon some installers might have 2nd stock they need to move on

      • Paul Surguy 8 months ago

        De Youngs Salvage south of Adelaide has had 2nd hand systems for sale from time to time phone them on 08-8186-3093 ,74 Baden Tce O”Sullivans Beach SA 5166

        • Joe 8 months ago

          …complimentary free advertising in the pages of Renew Economy, how is that going down with the ‘moderator’?

      • Ian Porter 8 months ago

        Gumtree and direct deals with installers is the way to go. Reason they are so cheap is that they are off the CEC approved list, so CEC rated installers won’t go near them. Solution: put in the system yourself and have a non-CEC sparky connect it up.

    • GlennM 8 months ago

      Love that…never thought about a second hand market…

      • neroden 8 months ago

        The second hand market in solar panels is a big deal. Here in rural New York, they’re popping up all over farm country.

    • Alistair Spong 8 months ago

      wow that beats my mate who got a similar number for roughly 25 a panel

    • Pedro 8 months ago

      Awesome and cheaper than Gyprock.

  2. George Darroch 8 months ago

    If I had a roof, I’d be maxing it out too. The price of modules continues to tumble.

    (A roof will probably cost me $700,000 so it won’t be soon.)

    • Joe 8 months ago

      Are you on the water by any chance?

  3. MaxG 8 months ago

    Also shows people are starting to get fed up with AU’s energy situation (for a better word).

    • nakedChimp 8 months ago

      Wait for them to be really fed up with their roof situation. 😉

  4. Ian Cutten 8 months ago

    “analysis suggests that the bulk of rooftop solar systems between 10kW and 15kW are going on to homes, not businesses, as previously thought”.

    Interesting. In South Australia with SAPN the home would have to have a 3 phase supply – single phase supply is limited to 5Kw of panels – can’t even max out an inverter which limits input to the grid to 5Kw!

    • rob 8 months ago

      bullshit, I have a 10kW system in S.A. with single phase!

      • Ian Cutten 8 months ago

        Rob. When did you have your 10kW system installed? I also have a 10kW system which was approved in November 2017 (although installed in January 2018). My understanding is that as of some date in December 2017 (probably 1st) the maximum approval for a single phase installation was reduced from 10kW to 5kW. The limit for 3 phase remains at 30kW.

        • rob 8 months ago

          2 years and 2 months ago

        • neroden 8 months ago

          So install 15 kW of panels but put in a limiter so you only feed 5 kW back. If the grid doesn’t want your excess electricity, you can keep it for yourself. The limiters are simple enough to install. You can always add a battery if you don’t want to waste the excess.

      • nakedChimp 8 months ago

        Lucky.
        A single datapoint no statistic makes.

        The feed-back allowance depends on the transformer in your ‘street’ that you and all the other people are hooked up to.

        Most people will be able to feed back 5kW per phase.

        I got 0 kW feed back allowance.

        It evens out I guess.

        PS: and we also got 2 phases only, 180 deg.

        PPS: they offered me to enable 5 kW (or more feedback) if I were to take on the cost of upgrading the transformer.. like 20.000 dollars or so. LOL

  5. heinbloed 8 months ago

    OT

    When looking for 2nd hand and stock left overs – for example to match existing installations – try here:

    http://www.pvxchange.com/default.aspx?langTag=en-GB

    It is an European company but least you get an idea about prices.

  6. stucrmnx120fshwf 8 months ago

    While putting the solar panels on the non ideal angle roof, doesn’t produce as much electricity, as the ideal angle, it gives power at a different time of the day, also, the feed in tariff would be better, because most of the solar supply, is coming in at the ideal angle time. With installation price, coming up to more than component price, oversupply to the grid looming, household power batteries are getting cheaper per kWh, so they’re more attractive too.

  7. GregS 8 months ago

    How easy is it to add panels to an existing installation? Do you also have to upgrade inverters etc, or is it simply a matter of adding panels and hooking them up?

    • nakedChimp 8 months ago

      Depends on what you got really and how your roof looks like.

      Also, if you can’t feed in more than 5kW, what use is more solar?
      Right, you then also need to get a battery.. long story short, get an idea what is possible (technically) an then talk with your local solar installer about it.

      All the systems and roofs I see around here need a new inverter + batteries and mostly rearranging of the array(s) on the roof if they want to ‘max out’.
      And most roofs are shitty anyway, as the house designer didn’t put any thought into making the most of it in regards to solar panel installation.
      Morons, as far as one can see.

      • GregS 8 months ago

        I’m in the US and fixing to install solar in a couple of weeks. My house was not ideally situated for solar, but I’ll have half the panel facing South East and the other half South West. Plan is to install a 7.8kW system, but if it is a lot of trouble to add panel later, I might try and cough up the money for a few extra panels now. The extra panels would most likely be in the South East direction as my South West facing roof portion will already maxed out

        • Lightfoot 8 months ago

          Explain your desired final layout and array size with your installer, before deciding on the inverter. As long as the final array is matched to the inverter, then it is usually a simple matter, to add some panels later. If the Inverter has been maxed out then its going to be significantly more expensive to add on to later.

          • GregS 8 months ago

            Thanks for the advice

        • nakedChimp 8 months ago

          OK, that changes things a bit.

          1) some inverters can be ‘overloaded’, which means the inverter is able to deal with a bigger array than it’s nameplate. It will naturally only deliver into the grid what it can, but it will not die if the array is bigger.
          If your panels are aligned for morning/afternoon they will never output the complete array rating anyway. You will be able to produce solar power early and late and have more from it – as the power you use yourself is the best you can do economically.

          2) if you want to have power from the array when the grid is out, get information about hybrid inverters. They can go into island mode and you will be able to use the fridge/radio at least. If you get one that can work with a battery, that would be even better, then a blackout will be no more problem for you.
          Don’t expect right now (without a lot of money) to go off-grid though.

          3) manual labor (and for the US the paperwork) is the most expensive part of the job. Putting up a couple more panels is peanuts in comparison. Also your wiring/roof/etc. only has to be dealt with once.

          • GregS 8 months ago

            Thanks Chimp

  8. handbaskets'r'us 8 months ago

    I couldn’t help but note yesterday’s ABC news page saying “too much solar…”suggesting there would be a terrible glut -and we won’t need any more soon.
    On the same feed was an article about electric cars and how much the ‘long tail pipe’ pollutes.
    Given, it was a realistic-ish article about ICE vs. BEV -except not taking into account the some 3 litres of fossil fuel used to produce and transport 1 litre to the car.
    Anyway if the two Rupertistic journo’s put their heads together, they might have come up with the brilliant idea of charging electric cars from all the excess solar…?
    The ABC seems to be quietly moving to the Murdoch model.
    No mention of so much positive action as we read here daily , only negative or doubtful analysis of a renewable energy future.
    Oh, -and what to do about spider bites etc..

    • RobSa 8 months ago

      Anti-renewable energy is too weird to contemplate.

    • neroden 8 months ago

      Yeah, that’s pretty gross. The “long tailpipe” nonsense was debunked 10 years ago, and we can always find something to do with more free solar electricity.

      Hopefully if the Lying Nasty Party is tossed out the new government can force some much needed reform on the ABC, because it’s gotten severely corrupted.

  9. neroden 8 months ago

    It makes sense. I haven’t installed solar yet (… I’m adding roof right now, so I want to do it all at once), but I’m certainly going to max it out. If you can afford it why not?

  10. Carl Raymond S 8 months ago

    I have a huge flat roof, the footprint of 5 townhouses, zero shading, Gosford NSW. But it’s shared with 13 other units on the strata title. If anybody would like to rent it for solar, pls comment. If there are no takers, my point is made – unit dwellers are missing out for purely bureaucratic reasons.

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