Aussie rooftop solar to reach 5GW by end of month

Australia’s total rooftop solar capacity is expected to break through the 5GW mark in July, reaching a remarkable milestone in a sector that was virtually non-existent in 2009.

New data released by Sunwiz shows that 64MW of rooftop solar was added across the country in the month of June, taking the national cumulative total to 4.964GW. At current rates of installation, the 5GW threshold should be broken in the next week or two.

The state with the most solar capacity remains Queensland, which is now at 1.534GW, followed by NSW (1.07GW) and Victoria (935MW). Rooftop solar is now thought to account for around 3 per cent of total consumption in Australia.

A recent report suggested that more than 1.5 million Australian households and businesses have invested more than $8 billion in rooftop solar (net of subsidies), and are saving around $1 billion a year on their electricity bills.

“5GW of rooftop solar demonstrate how much the people of Australia love solar, and what’s more they prefer generating their own power than buying it from a coal fired power station,” says Warwick Johnston, the director of Sunwiz.

Forecasts vary for the future growth of rooftop solar PV, but one of the most authoritative comes from Bloomberg New Energy Finance, which predicts 38GW of rooftop solar by 2040. (See Australia’s big energy switch from coal and gas to wind and solar).

Solar investor and financier Lighthouse Infrastructure, however, predicts 52GW of solar by the same year, although this includes large scale installations. (See Australia to get 52GW of solar capacity in dramatic energy transformation).

Sunwiz says one of the most interesting aspects of the market in the latest month is the growing share of commercial-scale rooftop solar (on the rooftops of businesses), which now accounts for 30 per cent of the market. This is seen by many as the biggest untapped market sector in Australia.

© 2016 Solar Choice Pty Ltd

Giles Parkinson