Australia’s solar future bright as households install record 3.5m panels

The future of Australia’s solar industry is looking bright after a record 3.5m panels were installed on rooftops last year, giving the equivalent output of a medium-sized coal-fired power station.

The record 1,057 megawatts of capacity in small-scale systems installed across the country smashed the previous record set in 2012, figures from the Clean Energy Regulator showed on Tuesday. It equated to 9,500 installed every day.

The data also revealed that the average system size has also doubled since then from three to six kilowatts as average prices continued to fall.

A fully installed 5KW system costs an average of $5,930 in Australia, according to the energy broker Solarchoice.net.au. Its records show that the price has roughly halved in many capital cities since 2012.

The regulator’s executive general manager, Mark Williamson, said there was increasing interest in renewables as a way to take control of electricity bills.

But he said it was also good news for reducing carbon emissions.

“We are seeing a wide cross-section of Australians – households, community centres, schools, and small businesses – receiving incentives under the small-scale renewable energy scheme,” Williamson said.

“Our data shows consumers are embracing renewable energy to take control of their electricity bills.”

In 2017, there was a 41% increase in installed renewable energy capacity across all states and territories compared to 2016. Queensland led the way with installed capacity at 295MW, with the Australian Capital Territory taking top place for biggest annual increase, up 57%.

“The data collected by the Clean Energy Regulator in 2017 reflects the industry is going from strength to strength. It looks like 2018 will be another big year for the solar industry.”

The total of installed capacity for last year is expected to rise to 1,070MW when all the data is collected. A large coal-fired power station such as Loy Yang A in Victoria’s Latrobe Valley has a capacity of 2,200MW.

Theo theguardian.com