Graph of the Day: Rooftop solar passes 4.5GW mark in Australia | RenewEconomy

Graph of the Day: Rooftop solar passes 4.5GW mark in Australia

Latest data from the Clean Energy Regulator on Australia’s small-scale renewable installations reveal what we already knew about the rooftop solar market.


Australia’s Clean Energy Regulator has launched a new service that includes monthly updates on the nation’s small-scale renewable energy installation data. Rooftop solar PV has likely passed the 4.5GW mark this month.

As you can see in the chart and tables below, the addition of just under 100,000 new rooftop solar systems, as well as more than 33,000 solar hot water systems have helped contribute to a total of 2,408,971 small-scale renewable energy installations in Australia to date.

That takes the total number of rooftop solar PV homes to more than 1.46 million, and the total installed capacity to 4.478GW at the end of September. At the current run rate, that means that the 4.5GW has likely already been passed in the month of October.

From state to state, Queensland still clearly leads the pack (7,982kW installed small-scale renewable energy), mostly due to its huge numbers of residential solar installations – although the CER data also factors in solar hot water and heat pumps, as well as small-scale wind and hydro power installations.

This graph shows latest monthly household additions and cumulative totals on the right.

NSW follows, not too far behind (5,778kW installed), probably boosted by its growing commercial solar market. Then comes WA, Victoria, South Australia, Northern Territory and, finally, Tasmania – although this order differs according to the state-by-state breakdown (in the last table) according to installed rooftop solar systems.

That final table also illustrates what we already know about the Australian rooftop solar PV market, that it is currently in a state of general decline, thanks to policy uncertainty and tariff cut-backs in most states.

Many of the state totals for installed systems for 2015 amount to around half the total from 2014 – in the case of Tasmania, where the rooftop solar tariff has been slashed from 28c/kWh to 8c, to 6.1c over the last two years, the total number of household PV systems installed in 2015 is less than one-third of last year’s total.

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  1. Ray Miller 5 years ago

    What happened to 2000 the year I installed my system? Looks like I was ahead of the curve.

  2. Jacob 5 years ago

    Heat pumps? How are they solar powered during the night?

    • Ian 5 years ago

      Is this a serious question? Heat pumps extract heat from ( generally) ambient air and deposit it into water. The advantage of this technology is the coefficient of performance. For every KW of electricity used in an electric motor driven pump one can extract 3 to 5 KW of heat from the environment. The sun heating the ambient air is the solar part. The electricity obviously can come from anywhere including solar, wind, fossil fuels you name it. If you really want to be pedantic about 100% renewables for your hot water then switch off your hot water heat pump at night and use the stored heat produced in the day in its water storage tank.

      • Jacob 5 years ago

        Ok so you just admitted they use electricity.

        I think these days it is better to have heat pump instead of solar hot water. Roof real estate is precious.

        • Ian 5 years ago

          Roof real estate is an excellent concept. I tried to google some answers to this question: which is more efficient in terms of roof area. A solar thermal collector on a roof for hot water or a bunch of solar panels powering a heat pump? A solar thermal collector on average will produce 1Kwh of heating per m2 per day.( in the UK, I battled to find Australian figures) Solar panels 800WH per m2 per day with a COP of 4 is 3.2 KWH per m2 per day. You win! Solar panels plus heat pump uses less real estate that solar thermal! In the UK anyway maybe in a hot country like Australia this might be different.

          We have a flat plate collector and floor mounted electric boost water heater. This concept is ridiculous. The roof thermal collector is supposed to heat the water storage tank when the sun shines. And the electric booster kicks in when the storage tank temperature drops to a thermostat predetermined temp. The electric boost is so quick that it ends up doing most of the work, while the solar thermal panels limp along. Eventually I installed a timer so that the electric booster only operates in the night and this has salvaged some of the solar benefit. A heat pump is a simpler concept (what you see is what you get), and as discussed it can still be mostly powered in the day by solar panels. In addition, if network power is needed for rainy days and for night heating it will be only sips of dirty old network lecky at a COP ratio of 4 to 1.

    • Miles Harding 5 years ago

      Including heat pump hot water units in a tally of renewable energy sources is absurd.
      All they do is consume electricity more efficiently, making them more like a CF light bulb than a PV panel. On the same topic, so are solar hot water systems since these are usually boosted by gas or electricity; The solar collector is making the booster more efficient.

      The test for inclusion in a renewable energy list should be exportability. Any device that doesn’t export energy should not be on the list.

      Another list of efficiency improvements should be created to put hot water, lightbulbs, variable speed swimming pool pump etc. The list could be endless and also meaningless when heat pump air conditioners and the like are eventually added by their resepective lobbyists.

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