Solar industry analysts SunWiz have forecast yet another year of growth in residential rooftop solar in 2021, but with a side of stronger uptake in both home battery storage and electric vehicles by Australian consumers.
Despite all of that, and the economic downturn that has since unfolded, the net result for the solar market in Australia looks a lot like business as usual, with more PV installed so far in 2020 than in the first 9 months of any previous year.
“In fact, the national solar capacity installed at the end of September has gone up so much that it has nearly eclipsed the 2019 full-year, 12 month total,” says SunWiz managing director Warwick Johnston.
The report notes that before Covid-19 settled in in Australia in March, the solar market was actually 40% ahead of itself year over year. The chart below shows “distinct downward slopes around that time,” but not for long, with most states jumping back to record-setting months by winter.
The exception, of course, has been Victoria, whose months-long Stage 4 lockdown measures have prevented the majority of rooftop PV installations from taking place – although those restrictions finally came to an end this week.
“So clearly, not even a global health pandemic can fully slow down the rapid growth of the Australian PV industry,” Johnston said.
In fact, he notes, the pandemic and the bush-fires have both ultimately helped drive greater uptake of rooftop solar among households.
“Covid brought a rush of STC creation on in April, adding fuel to the fire of solar uptake,” the report says. “The summer of bushfires had already had an acceleration effect, as people bought solar for increased self-sufficiency and environmental concern.
“Covid dampened growth in May, but then growth returned with vigour as people worked from home and got self-sufficient on their garden and on their roof.”
To the future, while Johnston concedes SunWiz does not have a crystal ball in its formidable solar monitoring and forecasting armoury, the team does not see the market dropping “anytime soon.”
What SunWiz does expect to see in 2021, however, is domestic market growth in both PV solar batteries and electric vehicles, as households and businesses start to embrace the full suite of low-emissions technologies.
And the adoption of these technologies, Johnston says, will in turn drive more PV uptake.
“Although the volume will likely stay low for now, as these items become cheaper and easier to access, they are nearly guaranteed to be followed with increased PV capacity for support,” the report says.
“In the worst-case scenario, 2021 could potentially be a flat year for the Australian PV market, however we strongly believe that will not be the case. More likely, we hope to see another continued year of nearly 3% month over month growth.”