Rooftop solar to add 2,000MW in 2019, another Liddell by 2022

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Australia’s booming rooftop solar market on track to deliver more than 2GW of capacity in 2019, and enough to replace Liddell coal plant by its closing date of 2022.

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Australia’s booming rooftop solar market is on track to add a record 2,000MW (2GW) of capacity in 2019, as electricity prices refuse to budge and state government rebates make solar self-generation more accessible than ever.

A new report from Green Energy Markets says 480MW of small-scale rooftop solar capacity has already been installed in the first quarter of this year, confirming previous analysis that it eclipses the total from the same time last year by a massive 46 per cent, and delivering two-and-a-half times the Q1 average of the past four years.

At this rate, says Green Energy Markets’ Tristan Edis, new additions of rooftop solar would, by 2022, deliver more than enough new generation capacity to replace Liddell Power Station – the New South Wales coal power plant that is due to retire by that date.

All told, a total of 23,024 small-scale solar systems were installed for the month of March,  enough to power 48,964 homes and deliver $299 million in bill savings.

“Installations have been rising across all states, but have surged in Victoria since the introduction of a $2,250 rebate,” the report says.

This has taken Victoria, traditionally a laggard on rooftop solar, behind both Queensland and NSW on installations, past both of those states in the first quarter of 2019.

As we have reported on RenewEconomy sister site, One Step Off The Grid, this huge spike in rooftop solar installations under the state government’s Solar Homes scheme has not been without its drawbacks.

The rebate has had to be capped ahead of its official launch in July, after more than 30,000 households piled into the introductory phase of the scheme. And at least one network company has struggled to accommodate all of the new behind the meter capacity.

At the large-scale end of the market, GEM’s Edis details a massive 8,123MW of projects under construction across the country at the end of March, including 4,592MW of wind farms and 3,471MW of large-scale solar.

These projects, the report notes, are creating enough work to employ 20,388 people.

As at the end of March, renewables made up almost 20 per cent – 19.7% – of the electricity generated on Australia’s main grids, enough to power 9.5 million homes.

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