Commercial solar market surges, but still less than 3% businesses connected

A new website has been launched to help Australia’s solar industry shift its focus from the household market to the relatively untapped market of commercial solar installations.
Developed by solar analysts SunWiz and launched on Thursday, the commercial solar database has gathered data on more than 3,500 solar projects to give the industry a better view of which businesses are installing solar power, how they are going about it, and where it is happening.
SunWiz managing director Warwick Johnston believes it is “vitally important” for PV retailers to get in the commercial PV market, as the residential market continues to soften and remaining housing stock becomes increasingly “sub-optimal”.
“The solar industry has well and truly picked the low hanging residential fruit and now needs to turn its focus to the commercial market to sustain itself,” Johnston said in a statement released on Thursday.
According to Green Energy Market, less than 3 per cent of Australian businesses currently have PV. And analysis performed by SunWiz and Solar Business Services for a forthcoming industry forecast reveals it would take 3.5GW of commercial PV for the market to be considered saturated.
By developing this database, he adds, SunWiz hopes to fill an information gap and help the industry to refocus and mine the untapped opportunity commercial solar represents.
“Our aim is to provide the most comprehensive database of commercial solar power systems in Australia, and with over 454MW of capacity currently accounted for in our system, I’m confident in saying we’ve done just that,” said Johnston.
Already, the data has revealed that 2014 was Australia’s most significant year for commercial PV so far, with over 20 per cent of the STC market being for thousands of commercial systems in the 10-100kW range.image010
Notably, says Johnston, 2014 was also Australia’s largest year for projects in the 100kW+ range, totaling 88MW.
“While projects funded by ARENA, the ACT Solar Auction, and the Solar Flagship will create a temporary blip in the utility scale market in 2015, the truly interesting market is in systems larger than 100kW behind the meter,” says Johnston.
SunWiz’s commercial PV database reveals over 17MW of such projects were installed in 2014, among them IKEA’s “historic” solar rollout.
To help keep the database up to date, it offers significant rewards for solar installers who list their projects, including better visibility in a crowded market.
The system has also been designed with the ability to claim projects to correct any potential errors and add more information.
It also includes additional levels of detail which make it possible to see what types of businesses have installed solar power, down to the postcode level – a useful tool for installers to find out where opportunities lie in commercial solar.
“The solar industry has had its fair share of ups and downs in recent years, the RET review being the most recent issue to threaten the industry,” said Johnston.
“The future of commercial and utility-scale solar power has been very uncertain and SunWiz’s database is here to help. If industry confidence and certainty can be lifted by this project, all the better the outcome is from where we sit.”
Originally published on RenewEconomy.

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