In October, Australian homes and businesses deployed 107 MW of new solar power capacity. This is the second time that over 100 MW are added in a single month – it had only happened once in June 2012, when the subsidies and feed-in tariffs for solar power were much better. The rapid growth of rooftop solar power in 2017 has been attributed in great part to decreasing PV system costs, combined with a drastic increase in local electricity tariffs.
Solar power achieves an exceptional financial performance in Australia: PV systems have a low ownership thanks to declining prices and rebates from the Small-Scale Renewable Energy Scheme. The abundant sunshine of Australia means solar panels are very productive, and the expensive electricity means the savings achieved are high. In a few words, every dollar spent on solar power is recovered multiple times during the service life of the installation. In fact, you can even go solar without paying anything upfront with a Power Purchase Agreement (PPA).
As previously mentioned, Australia saw 107 MW of new rooftop solar capacity in October 2017. This capacity is distributed across more than 15,700 individual systems, and the resulting energy output is enough to meet the needs of 28,000 Australian households. During the next 10 years, these solar PV systems are expected tosave their owners around $195 million.
The drastic increase in electricity prices is a key reason why Australian homes and businesses are opting for their own energy generation systems. Some clients have seen their power bills double in less than a decade. Electricity in Australia is expensive in great part due to excessive network costs, and increasing natural gas prices are also to blame. For example, Victoria experienced a 16% increase in gas prices and a 5% increase in electricity tariffs only between 2016 and 2017.
It is important to note that solar PV systems below 100 kW dominate the Australian market, a size threshold that includes the entire residential sector and a large portion of commercial users. There are 6.7 GW of solar power capacity in Australia considering new additions in October, and systems below 100 kW add up 6 GW – nearly 90% of total capacity.
If all solar PV systems below 100 kW installed in 2017 are added, the total capacity is 825 MW before adding November and December. At the current pace of new installations, it is very likely that 2017 will end with more than 1GW of capacity on record – the first time this happens in Australia and the best year for rooftop solar power so far.
Solar power continues to grow in Australia despite its inability to produce energy at night, but this will soon change. Lithium-ion batteries are become more affordable each year, just like solar power a decade ago. Solar power plus storage can compete directly with fossil fuels, since the energy supply is no longer limited to sunshine hours.