Figures from Australia’s Clean Energy Regulator show that there are now 1.7 gigawatts (GW) of rooftop solar PV capacity throughout the country. In total, over 750,000 homes (about 10% of those in the country) have installed solar panels to date. Although the pace has slowed due to the withdrawal of many state-based Solar Feed-in Tariff incentive programs, this number is still growing, with total installed capacity expected to hit 2.3Gw by the end of 2012.
The leaders in rooftop solar capacity were Queensland (at 474 megawatts (MW)), followed by NSW with 436MW. NSW’s 60c per kilowatt-hour (kWh) Solar Bonus Scheme rate was one of the first to go, ending abruptly on 27 October 2010. Queensland’s Solar Bonus Scheme dropped from a 44c/kWh rate to 8c/kWh more recently, on 9 July 2012. The NSW market has managed to reach a healthy state of equilibrium after the incentive step-down, but only after a protracted lull. Queensland is likely to follow the same pattern, although the fact that Solar Choice is still seeing a steady, albeit smaller, stream of enquiries from the Sunshine State could indicate a speedier transition to a ‘new normal’. Residential system sizes will probably remain in the 3-5kW range, up from the 1.5kW systems that were the staple of the solar industry back at the beginning of Australia’s solar boom in 2010.
The feeling amongst many in the industry (which was also palpable in the air at Clean Energy Week 2012) is that the commercial solar power will become the next major growth area for solar PV. Although the floodgates have not yet broken open for large-scale projects, Solar Choice is seeing a growing number of enquiries from customers about solar farms and other 30kW+ installations. Paths to financial viability for solar PV projects of this scale are being eagerly developed by industry players, including a commercial-scale solar PV financing package through Solar Choice Commercial.
© 2012 Solar Choice Pty Ltd
He is now the communications manager for energy technology startup SwitchDin, but remains an occasional contributor to the Solar Choice blog.
James lives in Newcastle in a house with a weird solar system.
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