March rooftop solar installs sets new record, exceeding NEG modelling by 50%


The signs that Australia is in the midst of a sustained rooftop solar boom continue to mount. After around 115 MW was installed on Australian rooftops in February, a near record month, March has sailed past that figure to become the new champion month for rooftop solar.

The figures were revealed in Green Energy Markets’ (GEM) Renewable Energy Index bulletin for the month of March.

The Index reveals that 18,237 small-scale solar systems were installed in the month. GEM estimates that the systems will deliver combined savings of $225 million to householders over their operational lifetime.

Extrapolated over the full year, the current installation rate could see between 1.2 – 1.4 GW of small-scale rooftop PV installed in Australia in 2018.

“Capacity installed in the first quarter of this year is 56% higher than the same time last year, which was a record-breaking year for capacity,” writes GEM’s Tristan Edis in the March Index.

Beyond simply exceeding 2017 figures, rooftop installs are also far exceeding the modelling produced for policymakers to inform the proposed National Energy Guarantee (NEG) mechanism.

“The rate of rooftop installs so far this year is about 50% higher than what had been assumed in the economic modelling of the National Energy Guarantee,” Edis observers. “On top of the underestimates of large scale renewables, it suggests that the emission reduction target could be substantially strengthened at minimal economic cost.”

The GEM data is collected under the Small-scale Technology Certificate (STC) subsidy program. STCs are generated when systems smaller than 100 kW in capacity are completed and grid connected. As such, large C&I installations are not included in the numbers.

The previous champion month for rooftop installations was November 2017, with 120 MW.

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