9) 21.6% of Australian homes have solar PV, the highest rate for residential rooftop PV in the world
Australian households have strongly supported solar photovoltaics (PV) over the past decade as a means to reduce their bills and emissions from electricity consumption, making Australia a world leader in household PV uptake, says Solar Citizens in their new report “Rooftop Real Estate.”
Australia has the highest penetration of residential rooftop PV in the developed world. Premium feed-in tariffs (that were higher than the electricity retail price) for exported energy from PV systems interacted with dramatic price decreases to create a solar boom in Australian states from around 2010. As PV became increasingly cost-effective over this period, by mid 2013, FiTs were rapidly wound back to be close to the wholesale value of the exported energy, and much lower than the retail price.
While being criticised by ACCC as a cross subsidy, the small-scale incentive (SRES) component of the renewable energy target (RET) has continued to offer valuable support for those households investing in PV and emissions reductions and contributing to our national emissions goals and commitments under the Paris agreement. As PV prices have continued to fall, and with widespread concern over increasing household electricity prices, PV has remained popular in all states, with rates of installation across the country steady over the past five years until escalating over 2018.
8) A year of new solar records
2018 is set to be a record year for solar installation, with over 2.9GW of new capacity installed to end of Q3, the total rooftop count exceeding 2 million and the overall total capacity in Australia surpassing the 10GW milestone in September.
7) Residential solar installation rate is approaching 50% penetration of residential rooftop solar in some parts of Australia
A new report commissioned by Solar Citizens and produced by researchers at the school of Photovoltaic & Renewable Energy Engineering at the University of New South Wales (UNSW) and the Australian PV Institute (APVI) identifies areas with highest penetration of residential solar PV across Australia. Leading areas for household PV penetration (percentage of houses with a PV system) include areas around Brisbane and Adelaide.
As well as more accurately estimating PV penetration, the report estimates the change in PV penetration over time. While SA and Queensland households are still leading in overall PV uptake, when we look at the fastest growth in PV penetration rates, most of the top 10 local government areas are in NSW.
The area with the fastest growth in PV penetration is Brewarrina, west of Bourke in north-west NSW. It seems likely that PV and the Air Conditioning program of the NSW government’s Aboriginal Housing Office is driving this growth. Analysis of bills of participants in the program in Dubbo revealed solar is creating average annual savings of $590 (22%) off electricity bills.
6) Distributed solar saved the equivalent of 7.4 million tonnes of carbon dioxide from being produced by Australia’s electricity sector in just one year
Investments in distributed solar by households and businesses are making a significant contribution to electricity generation in Australia, a new report by Solar Citizens shows. The report, commissioned by Solar Citizens and produced by researchers UNSW and the APVI, shows that distributed solar generation saved the equivalent of 7.4 million tonnes of carbon dioxide from being produced by Australia’s electricity sector in just one year. Total Australian electricity generation in 2016-17 was 258,000GWh.
Total generation from distributed solar in the year to August 2018 was 8900GWh, or around 3 per cent of total electricity consumption and 4 per cent of emissions from the electricity sector.
5) Australia has the rooftop potential to increase residential solar capacity to a staggering 43GW–61GW—well above the approximate 6GW that’s currently installed.
That’s right: with so many sunny rooftops on Australia’s housing stock, we have used less than a sixth of our available residential rooftop real estate. Australian households have strongly supported solar photovoltaics (PV) over the past decade as a means to reduce their bills and emissions from electricity consumption, making Australia a world leader in household PV uptake.
So far, 21.6 per cent of stand-alone houses in Australia have installed solar PV; but a new report commissioned by Solar Citizens and produced by researchers at UNSW and the APVI shows that Australian homes have the rooftop potential to increase residential solar capacity up to 61GW.
The analysis shows that 93.5% of the residential rooftop potential is on homes, but up to 4GW is on apartments. And while PV is an excellent investment for Australian households and residential uptake of PV has been strong, some groups of households have thus far been largely excluded from the benefits of PV, including those that live in apartments, renters and public housing tenants.
The report recommends two key strategies to addressing these equity concerns in access to solar. The first is to provide rebates as well as no-interest loans to support low-income and vulnerable households access solar, while the second recommendation is to implement schemes that incentivise solar on rental properties and enable landlords and tenants to split the benefits.
4) Electricity generated from distributed PV grew 33% year on year
The growth of residential and commercial solar PV in Australia is making a noticeable impact on the energy system in Australia. Investments in distributed solar by households and businesses are making a significant contribution to electricity generation in Australia.
Electricity generated from distributed PV electricity grew 33% year on year. This growth is expected to continue with the growth of large-scale commercial solar projects.
At certain times of the day, distributed PV is contributing a significant fraction of electricity consumed across Australia’s major electricity supply systems (the National Electricity Market, which serves the eastern states from SA to QLD, and the South-West Interconnected System, which serves WA).
For example, distributed solar (excluding utility scale solar farms registered with the market operator) contributed 21 per cent to the NEM and SWIS (WA) at 12 noon on 22nd October 2018. While this can create challenges for the current electricity infrastructure, it also signifies solar is becoming a major player in energy generation.
3) Residential PV accounts for 61% of installed PV capacity in Australia, the rest is on commercial roofs and large scale
Australian residential PV has lead the transition to solar energy, but commercial PV is quickly catching up. There is now over 10GW of PV capacity across residential and commercial installations in Australia. Over recent months, there has been very significant growth in large scale solar, including large commercial/warehouse rooftop PV and utility-scale solar farms.
After a long investment drought, blamed largely on the uncertain investment environment created by the policy vacuum since the axing of the carbon price, there are large numbers of solar farms that have been constructed or have been approved for future construction. Support from ARENA and the Clean Energy Finance Corporation, as well as State policies (e.g. ACT, QLD and VIC auctions) have been initially responsible for driving this boom, but corporates and government procurement programs now seeking to benefit from lower electricity prices are now also driving demand.
Retirements of ageing coal plus enormous falls in costs have made utility PV a compelling investment, and developers are rushing to secure access to limited network capacity and take advantage of the remaining value in the RET. Given the long list of solar farms committed and proposed for the NEM, solar farms and large scale rooftop arrays are likely to make up majority of PV capacity added in the coming years, dramatically increasing Australia’s solar energy generating capacity.
2) 80 large-scale solar projects are being built in 2018 which will deliver over $20 billion of investment and 13,000 direct jobs.
The 2018 report by the Clean Energy Council describes an overview of financing of solar projects in Australia. It showed that renewable energy projects under construction (solar and wind), completed or that had attracted finance in 2017 added up to $10 billion of investment.
This will add more than 5300 MW of generating capacity. The completion of these funded projects will require about 5,750 new jobs, adding to job growth in the Australian renewable energy sector. In the solar sector alone, 9,028MW of capacity are in construction or are due to start soon, adding 8,834 jobs for workers. Notably, much of this job growth in renewables is in largescale wind and solar and creates jobs in regional areas across the country.
1) 2018 is set to be a record year for total solar installs with 3.3 GW installed in the last 12 months.
We now have more than 6 GW on residential rooftops alone, and with room for up to 61GW, we have only just started our rooftop solar journey to capturing the full solar potential in Australia.
2018 was a great year for solar in Australia:
- Surpassed 10GW of generating capacity across residential, commercial and utility scale solar PV;
- We reached 2 million rooftop solar installs, including 21.6% of all stand-alone houses in Australia that now have a PV system installed;
- In the year to August 2018, distributed solar generated approximately 3% of Australia’s total electricity consumption;
- Electricity generated from distributed PV grew 33% year on year;
- Distributed PV saved the equivalent of 7.4 million tonnes of carbon dioxide from being produced by Australia’s electricity sector in just one year.
So what’s next in the year ahead?
- Up to 61GW of potential is sitting on Australian residential rooftops;
- Up to 4GW of that potential on apartment building rooftops.