Surge in solar hot water installs puts Victoria in solar lead

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April 2016 saw a “significant surge” in the number of solar hot water systems installed around Australia – and it was driven almost entirely by uptake in Victoria.

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The state of Victoria is now emerging as Australia’s solar capital, as it catches up to previous leaders Queensland and New South Wales in the rate of rooftop solar PV installations, and continues to lead the country in solar hot water.

While the rate of rooftop solar PV installations remained steady in most Australian states and territories in April 2016, the number of  solar hot water systems jumped 18 per cent to 5,670 systems installed for the month.

This “significant surge” in installations, noted in the latest Solar Snapshot from Green Energy Markets, was driven almost entirely by Victoria, as you can see in the chart below.

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The number of SHW systems installed in Victoria in April was up a whopping 75 per cent on last month’s figures, while NSW, QLD, WA and TAS recorded falls in system numbers.

In rooftop solar PV, Victoria has now overtaken NSW in the number of solar installation per month, and in the year to date, if not in total capacity.

When combined with the numbers on small-scale solar PV systems – see the market share in the table below – this makes Victoria Australia’s number one state for the adoption of small-scale solar technologies.

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Green Energy Markets managing director Ric Brazzale said one of the reasons for Victoria’s big uptake of SHW – the state has always been Australia’s biggest market for the technology – was the additional subsidy provided by the Victorian energy efficiency scheme to households that replaced an existing electric water heater with a SHW system.

“When you look at the numbers, you’ll see that a big chunk – about half of the SHW market – is replacing existing systems,” Brazzale told RenewEconomy. “The other half are new buildings” – current Victorian building standards require all new-build houses to install either solar hot water or a rainwater tank.

Brazzale said SHW was particularly popular in regional areas, where households – either new-build or those wishing to upgrade their hot water services – did not have access to the gas newtork.

He said that high gas prices had also helped to push people off the gas network.

Sophie Vorrath

Sophie is editor of OneStepOffTheGrid.com.au and deputy editor of its sister site, RenewEconomy.com.au. Sophie has been writing about clean energy for more than a decade.

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19 Comments
  1. DogzOwn 3 years ago

    Why is it so? SHW is expensive, expensive electric boost in winter and dangerously hot in summer. Surely a little extra solar PV with het pump makes more sense, lower energy in winter and excess to storage or hustling grid change in summer?

    • Tim Forcey 3 years ago

      Data re installations of both hot-water-heat-pumps and rooftop-solar-thermal -hot-water systems can be sourced from the Clean Energy Regulator database, because renewable energy certificates are available for both.

      Often, including in the CER database, heat-pump-hot-water systems are referred to as “SHW”, meaning “solar hot water”. And why not because the heat in the ambient air that is harvested by heat pumps comes from the sun after all – it is just another form of solar energy harvesting.

      But beware of potential nomenclature confusion there regarding “SHW”.

    • Brian Tehan 3 years ago

      If the collectors are on an optimal angle for winter, there shouldn’t be too much problem with overheating in summer and winter collection is optimised. In Melbourne, you’ll still need winter boosting. Most of the systems sold in Melbourne have instantaneous gas boosting, so low gas cost. The big issue then, is the cost of gas supply, which is now 90% of my gas costs. I think that’s the best economic argument for heat pump hot water, particularly if you have solar. Then you can disconnect the gas, assuming that you’re also using heat pump heating and induction cooktop.

      • solarguy 3 years ago

        The economics don’t stack up for PV and HP’s see my post to DogzOwn.

    • solarguy 3 years ago

      A std electric storage unit doesn’t have a circ pump, controller or a solar collector. To get the heat from the collector requires copper pipe and insulation, plus the labour cost to install.

      A correctly sized and correctly installed Evacuated Tube SHW system can cost as little as $10 per year to run.

      A heat pump can cost up to $1.00/ DAY in winter, a bit less in summer. You will need at least 1.5kw extra PV and that will help get cheaper running costs, however, PV cannot output much on cloudy days compared to E.T. SHW, so you will have to bring in power from the grid, more than you would expect.
      If PV and HP’s were the cheapest for heating water I’d recommend that to my customers.

    • Brunel 3 years ago

      Governments are quite slow to realise what is the most efficient thing.

      And they are also corrupt.

      Look at taxis. What is more efficient – deregulating the number of electric taxis or capping the number of electric taxis?

    • Tim Forcey 3 years ago

      Here is an article about using hot water as a “battery” to store excess PV-generated energy. https://reneweconomy.com.au/2015/get-more-out-of-your-solar-power-system-by-using-water-as-a-battery-26228

  2. Radbug 3 years ago

    I’d really like to know which marvellous solar HW system they’re installing in Victoria because, upon complaining to my vendor that my Hills Evacuated Tube split-system had broken down for the second time, I was told that they only expect the pumps on these systems to run for about 15 months between replacements (and another $450). It would appear that in the heat of the Brisbane summer, the impellers in these German pumps melt. I wonder if the Germans use UMPE, or just some el cheapo medium molecular weight polymer. Anyhow, I shall NOT be someone’s milch cow and will simply put up with luke warm water in future! ps. Oh, yes, I’m given to believe that, in Victoria, vendors are required to offer a five year warranty, whereas in Queensland, they’re only required to offer a two year warranty.

    • solarguy 3 years ago

      Radbug, what brand of circ pump is it? Did your plumber replace the check valve (must be solar rated) when changing the pump?

      • Radbug 3 years ago

        Solarguy, the pump is a GRUNDFOS. type solar. 15-20 CIL2. p/n 97761474, pc: 1336APC (whatever all that means!) I shall ask the plumber whether he replaced the check valve when he changed the pump back in April 2014.

        • solarguy 3 years ago

          The Grundfos pump on my Edson ET SHW system is 6yrs old and going strong. I’ve been selling these systems for 8yrs and the main cause of failure of a good pump like Grundfos are faulty check valves. Any SHW system with a check valve that is not solar rated to 140c or higher will cause a restriction that the pump will work overtime against it.
          However, if a check fails in the open position, water up to 160c can push down from the collector when in stagnation condition and damage the impeller. If your controller gives temp read outs of collector, tank and inlet, you can see how the system is operating and so spot a problem developing. All Edson systems have such a controller.
          Hope this has been helpful.

          • Radbug 3 years ago

            Solarguy, what’s your business email address? I need it for when my plumber says, “Sorry, Radbug, but you’d be better off disconnecting your tubes and running your system purely on mains power!” In that case, perhaps you and he could have a little chat!

          • solarguy 3 years ago

            Radbug, I’m thinking your plumber hasn’t a clue.
            Email to [email protected] leave you email address and phone numbers and I will call you.

  3. Ella 3 years ago

    manage your hot water better – http://www.ismartcontroller.com.au

  4. Tim Forcey 3 years ago

    Here is a double-impingeing-jet shower head rated a 5 litres per minute. Pretty stingy! My daughter reports that it gives a great shower. Compare this with some old shower heads that use up to 40 litres per minute. You can really put a dent in your hot water use. http://pure-electric.com.au/products/methven-kiri-satinjet-ultra-low-flow-4.5-litre

    • Brunel 3 years ago

      If you double the population of MEL, do you halve the shower flow rate of everyone?

      15L/min showers are not an issue if the water is recycled using solar power.

      Or do you get 70% of houses to install a rainwater tank and solar PV to purify rainwater for swimming pool and shower use.

      • Tim Forcey 3 years ago

        Efficient shower heads save two things: 1) water, 2) energy.

        • Brunel 3 years ago

          Thanks for not answering the question.

  5. Zvyozdochka 3 years ago

    Make it mandatory already, even when selling the house – the seller pays for the change to SWH. It’s absolutely absurd to see house after house without it in Australia.

Comments are closed.