10% of ACT’s electricity demand to be met by solar by 2020

A new report has predicted that the ACT could source nearly 10 per cent of its overall electricity demand from rooftop solar within the next few years.

The report compiled for the ACT government notes that 45MW of rooftop solar has been installed in the nation’s capital, giving it one of the highest “penetration” rates in the country, at around 18 per cent.

Around 26MW of that was installed under the government’s feed-in tariff scheme, accounting for 3.2 per cent of the ACT’s current residential demand, or around 33GWh. Another 7MW may be added in yet to be installed projects under the tariff.

A further 18.8MW of solar capacity has been added since the FiT scheme was closed to new applicants in 2011. It expects installation rates will continue to grow into the future, despite the ACT having exceptionally low electricity prices.

EPD projections show non-FiT output reaching 95.0 GWh by 2020, suggesting total rooftop solar contribution of around 10 per cent by the end of the decade, taking into account demand growth.

The report notes that the scheme was probably more generous that it needed to be, but it helped contribute to the cost falls, which were quicker than anyone had expected. In just the two years from the start of the scheme till its closure in 2011, the cost of solar panels fell from about $9.62 per Watt in 2008-09 to $2.42 per Watt.

The report says the cost to the consumer amounts to $36 a year, or around 2.3 per cent of the bill. The report said “There is no obvious relationship between penetration rates and household income.”

It notes that the summer peak demand has already been cut by 3.6%, and network costs can be reduced by ensuring solar customers encourage matching of generation and load profiles, including through the incorporation of energy storage where cost-effective.

© 2015 Solar Choice Pty Ltd

Giles Parkinson