The impact of the extended Covid-19 lockdown in New South Wales is starting to show in the state’s rooftop solar market, as restrictions preventing the installation of panels in Greater Sydney and beyond sent volumes back down to levels not seen since June 2020.
The latest data from industry statistician, SunWiz, shows that installations in the month of July in NSW totalled 72MW, down from 87MW in June and from an all-time high of 101MW just four months ago in March. Queensland matched NSW for capacity for the first time in two years.
Nationally, the data shows that the market – for the most part – has held steady, showing a slight decrease of 2.53% from June (277MWs) to July (270MWs).
Despite the subdued month of July, new installs was enough to take the combined total of small scale rooftop solar to more than 15GW across the nation, while Victoria upped it total to 2,999MW, meaning that the 3GW mark is now breached. A total of 3GW is expected to be added across Australia in 2021.
A strong commercial market in most states and the resumption of business-as-usual – almost, anyway – in Victoria have helped keep the dip to a minimum, SunWiz managing director Warwick Johnston said.
While volumes dipped elsewhere, the comparatively free state of Victoria reversed the direction of its installation growth trajectory for the fourth month in a row – as you can see in the SunWiz chart below – closing out July with a total of 67MW of new rooftop PV capacity, up from 58MW in June.
In fact if it wasn’t for Victoria’s volumes, Johnston says a much larger decrease in total installations would have been observed, nationally, with most of the other major states also charting a decrease – including the Sunshine state.
“For the first time since August 2019, New South Wales and Queensland converged on the 72MW mark, with NSW volumes taking a large hit, especially over the last couple of weeks,” said Johnston in the SunWiz’s monthly executive insights report.
“Over July, all states (except for the “Other” states [ACT, NT, Tasmania] combined which see an increase) observe a decrease in the proportion of their projects within the <15kW range,” the report says.
All of that noted, the dip in month-on-month volume has had just a small impact on the lead the market has on the same time last year, which after July sits at 18%, keeping the market on track for another record year of growth.
What the future holds will depend a great deal on how much havoc Covid continues to play around the country, with parts of Queensland last week plunged into a snap lockdown to get a jump on a small outbreak in that state.
As One Step reported, despite Sydney’s ongoing lockdown and consistently high number of daily Covid infections, the government last week gave the go-ahead for some construction work – including rooftop solar and battery installations – to resume (with strict conditions), starting July 31.
This slight reprieve for the NSW industry came as restrictions were eased in Victoria and South Australia, and look likely to continue to loosen up, with the most recent Covid outbreaks in those states appearing to be largely under control.
In Queensland, a lockdown is in currently in place until 4pm, August 08, for the local government areas of Brisbane, Gold Coast, Ipswich, Lockyer Valley, Logan, Moreton Bay, Noosa, Redland, Scenic Rim, Somerset and Sunshine Coast. Commercial construction – including rooftop solar installs – can only continue at unoccupied premises or in cases of emergency.