Rooftop solar set to eclipse coal as installations reach more than 20GW

rooftop solar Western Australia
Image: Western Power

Solar panels installed on Australian homes and businesses will soon generate more power than the nation’s remaining coal plants, a new report has found, as rooftop PV passes a major new milestone of 20GW of combined grid-connected capacity.

Using data from the Clean Energy Regulator, Australian PV market consultancy SunWiz reports that more than 20,000MW (20GW) of rooftop PV has now been installed since 2008 – more than 3.4 million small solar systems.

SunWiz managing director Warwick Johnston says this “immense amount” of rooftop solar has been supported by a thriving local industry, and the comparatively low cost of installing panels in Australia.

“It’s understandable that we lead the world in per-capita uptake of solar,” Johnston says, at more than 1.2kW per person.

Even more impressive, however, is that this rate of uptake has put small-scale solar on track to beat out coal generation capacity in April, when AGL Energy’s Liddell power station in New South Wales is slated to close.

“Solar energy is already Australia’s largest fuel source for electrical power in Australia,” says SunWiz managing director Warwick Johnston.

“When the Liddell coal fired power station closes in April 2023, rooftop solar will have a greater capacity than
the remaining coal fired power stations operating across the country.”

According to the SunWiz report, Queensland leads the push with more than 5.2GW of rooftop solar power, and will soon hit 1,000,000 installations in the state.

Queensland may not hold this title for long, however, with New South Wales homes and businesses revealed to be adding new rooftop solar power capacity at the greatest rate, at nearly 100MW a month.

South Australia, meanwhile, leads in per-household uptake, with 45 per cent of dwellings hosting a solar power system. Nationally, an average of 31 per cent of households have a solar power system.

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