While globally embarrassed Prime Minister Scott Morrison and Energy Minister Angus Taylor attempt to apply green colour-correcting makeup to their blushing faces via their belated plan for “ultra low-cost solar”, the Australian people are doing their jobs for them, breaking more records this month as everyday Aussies reached the three million rooftop solar installation mark.
According to the Australian PV Institute’s National Survey of PV Power Applications in Australia report, prepared in partnership with the International Energy Agency and published last week, Australia has 22.3 GW of installed solar as of mid 2021, having nearly tripled its capacity since 2017.
What is more, Australia installed a record 360,000 rooftop systems in 2021, a whopping 40% increase on 2020. According to SunWiz, the Clean Energy Council (CEC) and Solar Citizens, those installations have taken Australia over the three million mark.
“So far, it’s everyday people that have done the heavy lifting n carbon emissions reduction, while the Australian government has been dragging its feet,” said Solar Citizens national director Ellen Roberts. “Because of the hard work of Australians, we’re in a good starting position to become a clean energy superpower than can export our sunshine to the world.”
CEC chief executive Kane Thornton agreed, and said Australia has long been the world leader in household solar installations, helping consumers lower their power bills, reducing pressure on the energy grid during the summer peak, reducing emissions and playing a key role in keeping the economy moving.
“On average, more than 41 solar systems are being installed every hour across Australia, equating to one panel every 44 seconds,” said Thornton. “This sheer scale means that on 17 October, rooftop solar was able to account for 38% share of demand on the National Electricity Market.”
Solar market analyst Warwick Johnston, managing director of SunWiz, said passing three million solar installations is a remarkable milestone. “Thanks to our homeowners, Australia leads the world in per-capita uptake of solar power – 22% higher per capita than Germany or Japan in 2020, according to the International Energy Agency,” Johnston said.
AU is witnessing the installation of PV systems at a rate of more than 200,000 p.a. – which is an astonishing feat but also presents challenges for the distribution networks. This project aims to develop a solution allowing flexible export limits.https://t.co/Soh3zeYNUq
— Warwick Johnston (@SunWiz_) November 4, 2021
“The transformation of Australia’s carbon-intensive electricity supply has been led by households directly investing in solar power on their homes,” continued Johnston, “not just because it benefits the planet – because it makes financial sense to do so.”
“Thanks to Australia’s highly-efficient solar workforce, Australia is one of the lowest-cost countries for a rooftop installation. Our abundant sunshine, large homes and high electricity prices combine to make paybacks in Australia shorter than in most other countries.”
Onwards and upwards
As more solar installations reach Australian rooftops, more Australians benefit, not just from electricity bill savings, and not just from helping to avert global catastrophe, but also for helping create Australian jobs. “For every megawatt of new rooftop solar, six jobs are created each year,” said Thornton, “illustrating that it is the largest generator of employment in the renewable energy industry. These are skilled workers, employed by small- to medium-sized businesses that are critical to local economies right across Australia.”
Thornton also pointed to the recent Transgrid report, Energy vision, in which its Prosumer Power scenario predicts more than 80% of Australian homes could have rooftop solar by 2050, in turn supplying 27% of the National Electricity Market’s generation needs.
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