Australian households lead the way in solar PV investment

Australian households accounted for nearly two-thirds of total investment in renewables in Australia in 2013, and virtually all of it in 2014, according to research by Bloomberg New Energy Finance.

The new data, released this week by Pew Charitable Trusts, shows that of a total of $4.4 billion of clean energy investment in Australia in 2013, two-thirds of this, or around $2.8 billion, came from the solar sector as households, and some businesses, installed nearly 1 gigawatt of rooftop solar PV.

The continued uptake of rooftop solar – at a rate of more than 13,000 households a month – even despite the winding back of generous state and federal subsidies, illustrates its use as a hedge against soaring electricity prices.
Recent data showed more than 4,000 applications are coming in a month just in the south-east Queensland region managed by Energex. In South Australia and Western Australia, uptake is more than 2,500 a month; in Victoria it has been just below 2,500 a month.

The Pew report noted that rooftop solar would remain attractive to Australian households in view of high retail electric power prices. The market for large-scale investments was less clear, however, due to the change in policies from the Abbott government.

Unlike the many other countries for which solar has dominated investment, Australia still has only one completed, utility-scale ground mounted solar farm – the 10MW installation at Greenough River near Geraldton in Western Australia.

The only projects likely to get committed this year include two more solar projects from the ACT’s reverse auction scheme, and possibly some wind projects to be allocated in another upcoming auction.

© 2014 Solar Choice Pty Ltd

Giles Parkinson