Rooftop solar installations increase 40% from 2020

Australia broke solar installation records across all rooftop sectors in 2020, solidifying its “remarkable” position in the global solar market with the highest per capita capacity at over 810 watts per person.

Australia installed a record 360,000 rooftop systems in 2021, a whopping 40% increase on 2020, according to the Australian PV Institute.

Its National Survey of PV Power Applications in Australia report, prepared in partnership with the International Energy Agency and published on Monday, tells a decidedly rosy story about solar’s progress in Australia, which it says is showing no signs of slowing. In fact, at 22.3 GW of installed solar as of mid 2021,  Australia has nearly tripled its capacity since 2017.

2020 continues Australia’s record breaking streak

In 2020, total rooftop installations hit a new high of 3 GW, with 1.8 GW installed on residential roofs and 1.2 GW on commercial and industrial roofs – which, while still smaller than the residential segment, saw the greatest year-on-year growth.

In total, Australia’s solar capacity grew 28% in 2020 despite the global pandemic. While the residential and C&I segments broke records, the utility-scale solar segment contracted after peaking in 2019. Be that as it may, the amount of utility-scale solar connected to the grid has increased ten-fold in the last three years, growing from 740 MW in 2017 to 7.4 GW in 2020.

“The Australian market is very different to most world markets as it has been dominated by rooftop PV. The demand for rooftop solar has kept Australia in the top ten markets for photovoltaics by annual installs and total installed capacity for over ten years, a remarkable outcome for a country of only 25.7 million people,” the report said.

Australia has retained its status as global per capita solar leader, with 160 watts on our closest competitor, Germany, which has 650 watts per person. “2021 looks set to extend this lead,” the Australian PV Institute’s report concluded.

Rooftops rage

Over 31% of free-standing households across the nation are now fitted with a PV system, the report outlined. In Queensland and South Australia, the average is closer to 40%, with a significant number of localities have densities of rooftop solar over 50%.

“Solar accounts for 25,340 full time equivalent jobs in Australia, and an additional 250 roles in solar research,” the report said. The institute estimates the total value of solar businesses in Australia to sit around $7 billion.

On average, Australians paid about $1.52 per kW for their systems before subsidies. It’s no wonder given the price decline that average rooftop system size continue to grow, coming in at over 8 kW in 2020.

“The Australian Energy Market Operator expects rooftop solar, alone, to account for up to 75% of national grid demand by 2026 and we are seeing new records for minimum demand broken each week as we move through spring, with increasing solar generation met with low demand for heating and cooling due to mild conditions,” the report said.

“In contrast to other areas of global leadership, very little building-integrated PV (BIPV) was added in 2020, and no vehicle-integrated PV was known to occur. No additional ‘Floatovoltaics’ have been recorded beyond the single 100kW installation in 2017.”

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