Rooftop solar installs tracking well ahead of 2018, but a rocky road ahead

Australian homes and businesses continue to invest in rooftop solar at an impressive clip, with the total volume installed for the year to date currently tracking 45 per cent higher than the same time last year.

According to the latest monthly tally from solar analysts SunWiz, a total of 157MW of residential and commercial PV was installed in the month of April, marking a drop in volume from March, thanks mainly to the Easter and Anzac Day public holidays.

The “April dip” saw volumes fall in every state and across all solar size classes, SunWiz reports, except in the smaller commercial ranges of 20-30kW, and 50-75kW.

 

“Commercial is on the wane, as a proportion of STC volume, across most states, NSW being the exception,” said SunWiz managing director Warwick Johnston.

In particular, he said, the 75-100kW market was cooling off, even as the10-20kW space recovered.

Johnston said all eyes would now be on the Victorian residential market, watching for any impact from the pause in the state government’s Solar Homes rebate, which will kick back in in July.

As we reported here earlier this month, the Andrews government’s Solar Homes subsidy has been effectively closed to new applications in the remaining months to July, after the “immense success” of the program saw more than 30,000 households pile in to the scheme before its official launch.

This has left many businesses in the state concerned that phones will stop ringing for up to three months, as business and cashflow come to a halt until customers can get access to the rebate again.

For similar but different reasons, it should also be interesting to watch the Queensland large commercial solar market, which faces its own threat from a state government change in electric safety guidelines.

The new rule – due to come in next week – will mean solar projects of 100kW and over must use qualified electricians only to mount, locate, fix or remove solar panels.

Businesses operating in the state say the rule change will blow out project costs, and cause major delays, as developers are forced to replace their existing workers with qualified electric workers – already thin on the ground.

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