Australian homes and businesses installed a record amount of rooftop solar in 2021, just edging past the expected milestone of 3GW of new capacity added in one year, despite a second round of Covid 19 chaos and increasingly strong global solar market headwinds.
For Australia’s rooftop solar industry, the notorious solar coaster has been in full effect this year, with the ups and downs of pandemic-affected trading conditions and the twists and turns of multiple major supply-chain constraints.
Despite all of this, the latest data from industry analysts SunWiz finds the year ended strongly with 300MW of new rooftop systems (0-100kW) added in December, making it the second-largest month in the year.
However, the solar-coaster did take its toll, according to SunWiz managing director Warwick Johnston, who notes that 2021 was “the first year for a long time” in which the monthly volume didn’t reach record levels.
As the chart below illustrates, the small-scale PV market closed out the year just 10% ahead of 2020, marking the first year since 2016 that year-on-year growth was so low – thanks largely to slump in installs in the third quarter.
“Though the market recovered from its Q3 slump,” Johnston said, “it was still a slower end to the year than 2020, with volume in December 2021 lower than December 2020.”
Due to a rush in larger commercial installations in the final weeks of the year, the average system sized “skyrocketed” in December, SunWiz reports, to set a national record of 9.5kW – a significant jump from the usual average of between 6-8kW.
SunWiz reports that while residential installs slowed in most segments in December, with the exception of 10-15kW, all commercial segments ended the year with at least two months of censecutive growth. The 75kW-100kW segment was the star of the show.
On a state by state basis, all of the major states exccept for Western Australia charted growth in December, but no major state ended the year with a record volume, “as has so oftenbeen the case in previous years,” the report says.
New South Wales wound up the year holding on to its position at the top of the rooftop solar growth rankings, adding a total of 85MW in December, followed by Queensland (70MW) and Victoria (59MW).
Western Australia installed a total of 32MW for the month, and South Australia 27MW. The ACT, Northern Territory and Tasmania installed a total of 12MW between them.
Looking ahead to 2022, the Australian rooftop solar market kicks off the year with a total of just under 17GW of total installed capacity nationwide. How the new year pans out, in terms of growth, will depend heavily on the ongoing impacts of Covid and of supply chain troubles.
Maybe 2022 will be the year of the home solar battery?