Australia has reached a significant solar milestone with 25GW of solar now installed nationwide, and the country now boasting the most solar per capita in the world – according to new research from the Australian Photovoltaics Institute (APVI).
Australia remains in the top ten countries worldwide for annual growth and total solar installations, due to the nationwide investment of over three million households and small businesses in rooftop solar, and a growing number of large-scale installations.
APVI Secretary, Renate Egan, said, “With a population of 25.7 million people, and at least 25.4GW of solar installed, Australia has now increased its leadership in
installed solar per capita, with close to 1kW per capita installed solar. Well ahead of the rest of the world.”
At the end of 2020, Australia had over 800W of solar installed per person – ahead of the next nearest nation, Germany with 650W per person. By the end of 2021, with 25GW of solar installed, Australia has nearly 1000W or 1kW per person.
“We have seen ongoing, strong growth in solar in Australia, with an astounding 25 per cent growth rate,” Ms Egan said.
“This is likely to increase Australia’s leadership in solar per capita, well ahead of other leading solar nations”.
Batteries to boost renewables
Home batteries could help more Australians be able to embrace the benefits of renewable energy, like solar, as highlighted in Dr Helen Haines’s Cheaper Home Batteries Bill, said the Clean Energy Council (CEC).
Under Ms Haines’s plan, home batteries would be brought into the Small-scale Renewable Energy Scheme (SRES), a policy that has enjoyed bi-partisan support and has played a critical role in the growth of clean energy in Australia.
The CEC’s newly released Roadmap for a Renewable Energy Future: Federal Election policy recommendations, also highlights the need for a household battery program.
Household batteries have become increasingly popular, with 23,796 Australian homes installing a battery in 2020. While the cost of household batteries continues to fall, the upfront cost of systems remains a barrier for most Australians.
Battery installation currently represents around 7 per cent of clean energy employment (the majority of which is in small-scale systems) but under some scenarios within the Australian Energy Market Operator’s (AEMO) 2020 Integrated System Plan, it could represent between 11 and 32 per cent by 2035, depending on government policies.
Clean Energy Council Chief Executive, Kane Thornton, said, “There is a role for governments to incentivise battery solutions and drive innovation in business models to support the increased customer uptake of household battery systems.
“This is a move that will reduce the upfront cost of household batteries and accelerate the deployment and development of the household battery industry.”
The CEC said it looks forward to working with Ms Haines and others on policies that drive energy storage investment, enabling ever-increasing renewable generation with an equity ‘safety net’ for vulnerable customers.
Solar Citizens: government action needed for continued solar growth
Solar Citizens’ National Director, Ellen Roberts, said, “Australia is the sunny country and we’ve been able to capitalise on that abundant solar energy to slash electricity costs and lower emissions.
“Solar homes and businesses are doing the heavy lifting to transition our energy system and we’ve reached this fantastic 25GW milestone.
“But now governments need to step up and ensure that rooftop solar can continue to grow and everyone is able to access the benefits of cheap clean energy.
“Governments are failing to keep up with incredible growth of solar, and we’re starting to see issues arise in the distribution network where the policy and technology isn’t keeping pace.
“We’re seeing these problems in states like Western Australia and South Australia where they’ve just introduced new powers to shut off solar systems when excess solar threatens grid stability.
“Instead of backwards measures like cutting off solar, we need to see governments proactively rolling out smarter solutions, like more batteries and dynamically managing solar exports.”
Ms Roberts said that as Australian households decarbonise and switch to electric vehicles, the country needs to be ready to make the most of cheap solar energy.
“We’ve seen a new Bill introduced to Federal Parliament by Dr Helen Haines to make home batteries more economical and to help electrify households,” Ms Roberts said.
“This could potentially save people up to $5,000 a year and further slash emissions at a household level, while making the most of our solar advantage. It’s a win-win but governments must step up to support this exciting solar future.”
‘Nowhere better’ to invest than rooftop solar
The APVI reports that the average system size installed in the ‘small scale’ solar category has grown to 8.8kW, which will cost only $7,000-$10,000 for a quality system and will have a return on investment of close to 20 per cent.
“There’s nearly nowhere better to put your money than into a rooftop solar installation, if you can,” Ms Egan said.
In 2021 over 4.5GW of solar was installed on over 350,000 homes and businesses, creating over 25,000 jobs in sales and installation.
For more information, access the APVI’s data here.