Australian households have invested more than $8 billion of their own money on rooftop solar, and are saving around $1 billion a year from their electricity bills.
A report from Solar Citizens says rooftop solar owned by households generated around 7 million megawatt hours (MWh) of electricity last year. If that electricity were sold on the wholesale spot market for average prices it would be worth $423 million.
However, because the solar is consumed in the home, and offsets higher retail electricity prices, the savings are even greater, and for each of the last three years, around $1 billion a year has been saved on the electricity bills (taking into account the plethora of different feed in tariffs around the country).
These savings, the report says, now total around $4.4 billion, and the rooftop solar has delivered environmental benefits and created “tens of thousands of jobs”.
Together, the 1.5 million Australian households and small businesses have invested more than $8 billion of their own money into rooftop solar, and are still investing more than $1.2 billion, despite the removal of most “premium” solar tariffs.
That’s because the systems – although around one fifth of the price of five years ago – are now much larger (an average size of 5kW rather than less than 2kW).
Indeed, as RenewEconomy has reported on many occasions, including here, the investment in solar by Australian households has far outstripped that of the major retailers and other companies in large scale renewables.
There is now more than 4.5GW of rooftop solar in Australia, compared to just 240MW of large scale solar across the country.
“The extraordinary rate of residential solar uptake was never expected to be as rapid – it was certainly not anticipated by governments, regulators or the big power companies,” the report says.
“Still today, many of Australia’s political leaders continue to underestimate our appetite for solar, its continuing fall in costs and the huge associated benefits it brings from job creation to lower bills and energy democratisation.”