PV popularity hits all time high

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Australian rooftop PV recorded the greatest ever annual installed capacity at 1,079MW in 2017.

Together with installations sized over 100 kW, the 2017 PV market is believed to have hit an all-time high of around 1.25GW.

John Grimes from the Smart Energy Council said, “Australia’s solar boom is good news for families and good news for the solar industry. Record numbers of Australian families and businesses are slashing their power bills with solar and storage.

“Families and businesses are making smart economic and environmental decisions that will benefit them for years to come. They are assessing the facts and figures, and all signs point to a continuation of the trend in PV popularity, from residential to commercial and large scale with many significant projects underway or on the drawing board.

“The solar boom means jobs, jobs, jobs – jobs in regional communities and jobs in suburbs across the nation.

“What we are seeing is that PV remains very popular and gets the vote of the broader community. Better too the environment benefits from cleaner air as we collectively reduce our reliance on coal-fired power which is imperative.

“Now all we need is smart national energy policy.”

However, Warwick Johnston from SunWiz does not know if the popularity in 2017 can be maintained in 2018.

Mr Johnston said the one segment that is certain to grow is utility-scale solar, which saw 80MW of PV commissioned in 2017.

According to the SunWiz and RenewEconomy Large Scale Lookout, 711MW of PV is under construction, indicating 2018 will exceed 2017’s rooftop installation tally and become another record year.

Among the 2017 highlights:

  • 50 per cent growth on 2016 in the <100 kW market
  • 60 per cent growth in the <100 kW commercial market
  • Almost twice as much volume in the 101-1000 kW rang.

Commercial installations which records strong growth rates made up more than 30 per cent of the <100 kW capacity in 2017.

ABS data shows 15 million solar panels valued at $1.2 billion were imported into Australia in 2017, with a high proportion destined for solar farms under construction.

The extent of market growth depends on five main factors which SunWiz lists as [the impact of] electricity prices and feed-in tariffs; power price rises; PV system prices; awareness; and momentum.

Predictions are that PV paybacks in 2018 will be similar to 2017 (and better than in 2019 and 2020), and although it will be more difficult to motivate customers to buy PV in 2018, bill shock will continue to influence decisions.

Falling PV system prices are unlikely to significantly improve sales in 2017, SunWiz suggests. 

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