We know that Australian homes and businesses were installing rooftop solar at a record-breaking clip in 2017, but the latest data from the Clean Energy Regulator makes that official – and how.
According to the CER’s latest update on the Small-Scale Renewable Energy Scheme, solar panels were installed on rooftops at a mind-bending rate of 6.5 per minute in 2017, adding a total of 1057MW new capacity for the year.
This equates to 3.5 million solar panels being fixed to Australian rooftops, or more than 9500 installed every day, the CER said.
All told, there was a 41 per cent increase in installed renewable energy capacity across all states and territories compared to 2016, the report says.
This growth was headed up by Queensland, which installed 295MW; while the Australian Capital Territory took top place for biggest annual increase, up 57 per cent.
“The data collected by the Clean Energy Regulator in 2017 reflects the industry is going from strength to strength. It looks like 2018 will be another big year for the solar industry,” said CER executive general manager, Mark Williamson.
“We are seeing a wide cross-section of Australians – households, community centres, schools, and small businesses – receiving incentives under the Small-scale Renewable Energy Scheme.
“Our data shows consumers are embracing renewable energy to take control of their electricity bills.”
Indeed, the CER data also revealed a growing preference for larger rooftop systems in 2017, driven both by the rising cost of electricity and the falling costs of PV.
The average solar system capacity has doubled in the five years since 2012, from three to six kilowatts, the report said.
Not only is this benefiting those households and businesses who install the solar systems, but it is delivering broader benefits across the grid – a fact borne out this summer, which has come and gone without any major blackouts or peak supply crises.
This has been particularly important for Queensland, where rooftop solar last year overtook the Gladstone coal plant as the state’s biggest power generator.
And in New South Wales, where commercial solar, in particular, has been booming, a similar effect is being felt.
“Penrith was the hottest place on the planet on Sunday, January 7, and on that day at midday, rooftop solar systems across NSW generated around 1000 MW [of electricity]”, noted NSW energy minister Don Harwin in comments reported by Fairfax newspapers on Monday.
“Combined with large-scale solar farms, solar was meeting around 11 per cent of the NSW electricity [demand].”