Recently released data (January 2021) by the Clean Energy Regulator highlights that it was another cracking year for small-scale solar power in Australia. This was on pace with estimation mid 2020 that it was on pace to be a record setting year for solar. By mid 2020, the total for solar output in 2018 had already been surpassed.
The statistics below show the number of new installations upgrades to existing systems and off-grid systems that had small-scale technology certificates (STCs) validly created in 2020. STC’s shape the basis of Australia’s hugely popular ‘solar rebate’, which is still available in 2021.
States and Territories by the numbers
· ACT: 4,963
· NSW: 101,224
· NT: 2,890
· QLD: 81,201
· SA: 33,145
· TAS: 3,068
· VIC: 62,885
· WA: 44,602
This comes to a total of 333,978. However, a 12-month creation period for STCs under the Renewable Energy (electricity) Act 2000. These figures are expected to rise steadily throughout this year.
Results are up 18% on 2019’s total of 283,952 systems. Although these results are a fairway off the best years for solar systems which were in 2011 (360,745) and 2012 (343,320), the average capacity of systems has significantly increased since. This is partially what analysts are attributing to the strong growth – the popularity of system sizes above 6 kW. Many installers have noted the uplift in sales of systems ranging from 10 to 20kW.
2020’s Top Solar postcodes in Australia
Strongest performs were varied, with Victoria boasting Hoppers Crossing (3029) as its highest installation total suburb, while second was around the Cranbourne area (3977.) NSW had Lismore (2480) and Dubbo (2830) as their strongest suburbs. Queensland saw strength in Bundaberg (4670) with 15,851 installations and Hervey Bay (4655.)
The overwhelming takeaway however was the spread of installations, with the top 10 postcodes making up less than 5% of the total installations for the year. This is encouraging to many, as it shows broad growth and adoption of solar systems, and increasingly, larger systems being taken up.
PV System uptake continue to rise
The recent rise in popularity of small-scale PV in Victoria was seemingly driven by the ongoing availability of the solar rebate in Victoria. This offers up to $1,850 on top of the national solar subsidy that can also slash thousands off the up-front cost of installing solar panels. Using a solar calculator, between the two incentives simple payback on a 6.6kW system installed in Melbourne can be reached in around 3.25 years. This provides a great return on investment opportunity, in addition to the environmental benefits. However, analysts can be looking to other reasons for this growth, as historical rebates have been of greater or equivalent value. Possible reasons could be rising energy prices and increasing public awareness to renewable energy.
According to the Clean Energy Regulator, 2,659,839 small-scale PV systems were installed as of early January 2021, for a total capacity just shy of 13 gigawatts. Considering there were just 198,208 systems registered at the end of 2010, Australia’s solar energy revolution has rapidly grown over the last decade and is seemingly maintaining pace that it saw at the start of the 2010’s.