Report reveals 48.5 GW of untapped PV potential on Australian residential buildings


Residential rooftop solar installations in Australia reached 15.1 GW in 2023 with more than one in three Australian households having installed PV but researchers at the University of New South Wales (UNSW) estimate the total potential for rooftop PV on the nation’s houses and apartments is approximately 60.9 GW, leaving 45.8 GW of unrealised potential solar energy.

The new analysis, commissioned by renewable advocate Solar Citizens and conducted by the Australian PV Institute at the University of NSW, shows the existing 15.1 GW of PV is installed across the roofs of approximately 3.29 million houses, leaving an estimated 5.7 million houses and apartments without solar.

The researchers said that unlocking this untapped potential could yield significant economic and environmental outcomes.

“If there was support for every rooftop with solar potential to install a new system or expand the size of existing rooftop solar to full potential, Australia could generate an additional 61 TWh of clean energy each year,” they said in the report, adding this would reduce Australia’s greenhouse gas emissions by 785 megatonnes over 20 years.

It is also expected the rollout of rooftop solar would create 240,000 additional job-years of employment in the solar sales and installation industry, equivalent to employing 48,000 people for five years.

“Currently almost all the solar panels and inverters installed in Australia are manufactured overseas, but there are signs of an emerging domestic industry,” the report reads.

“Deployment of PV across the residential housing stock therefore has the potential to provide further employment in the manufacturing sector and support this emerging industry.”

Joel Pringle, National Campaigns Director at Solar Citizens, said the report shows the great potential to expand rooftop solar in Australia, noting that investing in the untapped solar potential of residential rooftops across the nation could save households $9.3 billion (USD 6.02 billion) on energy bills each year.

“That’s nine billion good reasons for the Albanese Government to make a significant investment in supporting more rooftop solar for households, people living in apartments and social housing and renters in the upcoming Federal Budget,” he said.

“Cleaner, cheaper rooftop solar energy is a win for both energy bill relief and reducing climate pollution. One in three Australian homes has now gone solar, we need greater government support to ensure the financial and health benefits are extended to all Australian households.”

The report estimates the realisation of these economic and social benefits would require an initial investment of $9.8 billion per year for five years.

Pringle said this investment would be repaid in bill savings in little more than five years with the annual household bill saving of $1,390 continuing for the operational lifetime of the solar system.

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