2017: Australia installs over 1 GW of small-scale PV in record-breaking year

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The Australian rooftop solar PV market remains one of the most robust globally. Over 172,000 residential and sub-100 kW commercial and industrial (C&I) PV systems were installed during the year, totally 1,078.93 MW of generation capacity.

The figures were compiled by Green Energy Markets (GEM), drawing on small-scale technology (STC) registration data.

The national result represents a 50% YoY increase, over the 716 MW of small rooftop systems installed in 2016.

Queensland came out on top as the leading state for installs, with close to 300 MW of small rooftop systems being added over the course of 2017, followed by New South Wales with 254 MW, Victoria (193 MW), Western Australia (184 MW), and South Australia (108 MW). The Australian Capital Territory, Northern Territory and Tasmania combined installed 40.5 MW.

While significant year-on-year (YoY) growth occurred right across the country, NSW saw the most pronounced increase in new systems being added for the year, with the volume installed growing 61% YoY. This was followed by Queensland (56%), WA (47%), SA (50%), Victoria (38%). The territories and Tasmania increased installation volume by one third YoY.

The GEM STC tracking confirms installer reports that residential system sizes have increased significantly. In 2012, 332,000 systems were installed. By 2017 that had fallen to 172 arrays – while an increase of over 56% was achieved in terms of new capacity. The largest two years for system installs was 2012 (945 MW), followed by 2013 with 221,000 (910 MW), and 220,000 systems in 2014 (814 MW).

STCs are generated when a residential rooftop or small C&I installation installed – defined as up to 100 kW. As PV has become increasingly competitive with grid power for small and medium-sized business, the small C&I segment has grown in importance. C&I installation rates has been steadily increasing, represented by the blue in the chart.

If the number of installations continue to rise, Australia could very likely exceed the 2 million rooftop milestone in 2018.