APVI: PV sails past 7 GW – 2017 installation record set to be smashed

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“Every market segment is expected to grow in 2018” is the rosy outlook of the latest PV in Australia report published by the Australian PV Institute (APVI). The report, prepared by the APVI and provided to the International Energy Agency, shows that 1.3 GW of solar PV was installed in 2017 – a record figure.

The year will likely be regarded as a major turning point for solar in Australia, with the residential market rebounding, with a 44% expansion, small C&I growing 60%, and large C&I 123%.

The APVI finds that while only 114 MW of utility scale solar was commissioned in 2017, the groundwork was laid for the unprecedented expansion currently underway.

The latest PV in Australia report tallies Australian solar installed capacity at over 7.2 GW at the end of 2017, representing 13% of national generating capacity, and supplying 3.9% of total energy demand – far above the global average.

In the residential market segment, where Australia is clearly a world leader, the APVI estimates that 20% of homes nationally have a rooftop PV system – a number that surges over 60% in some areas. In total, the report finds that 1.8 million PV systems had been installed in Australia at the end of last year.

While the numbers for 2017 make for happy reading for solar supporters, and the over 8000 people the APVI believes work in solar in Australia today, all indications are that 2018 will smash all previous installation records. Strong growth across all markets segments is evident and the 2017 record of 1.3 GW looks set to almost be more than doubled and potentially even tripled in 2018.

APVI notes that 1.4 GW of utility scale projects have already been commissioned in 2018, with another 1.9 GW currently under construction.

In the small-scale rooftop segment, monthly installation rates indicate that sub-100kW installations are tracking towards 1.4 GW for the year. With reports that larger C&I projects are also being installed, there is a strong indication that the rooftop market alone will surpass the 2017 installation record, across all market segments.

Additionally, module price reductions – on the back of a severe downturn in the Chinese PV market over the second half of 2018 – are expected to flow to the Australian market in the latter stages of the year, providing a year-end boost. The APVI report indicates that, by contrast, PV system prices have remained largely flat at between $2 – $2.50/Wp since 2015.

Given these indications, there could be something like 3.5 GW of PV installed in Australia in 2018 – close to triple 2017’s record.

APVI Chair Renate Egan in the 2018 PV in Australia press release writes: “With over 1900MW of solar farms currently under construction and 35GW at various stages of development, 2018 looks certain to be another record year for Australian PV.”

Warwick Johnston is a co-author of the report, which is supported by ARENA.