2018 was a record year for Australia’s solar PV sector across all segments, with more than 2 GW of large-scale PV added, and over 40% increase in residential PV.
Based on data collected by Green Energy Trading, Australia added over 3,775 MW of solar capacity last year, up from 1,270 MW in 2017. There was 2,083 MW of big PV added last year, around half of it in Queensland, up from a meager 119 MW in 2017.
This boom is set to spill over to 2019, which is in line for even bigger figures given the capacity of large-scale solar project currently under construction. According to the Clean Energy Council’s figures released in December, there are over 9 GW of large-scale solar projects currently under construction or soon to start. This totals an investment of almost $11.5 billion, creating 8,834 jobs.
As the number of Australian rooftop solar PV systems passed the two million mark late last year, with an average six panels installed a minute, both residential and commercial grew by more than 40%, reaching 1,227 MW and 351 MW respectively. The main drivers for home owners to install PV continue to be high electricity prices and falling costs of solar accompanied by a shorter payback period.
The analysts remind that while the stabilisation in electricity prices after large rises in prior years could lead to drop off in the residential segment, a noticeable decline in sales seems unlikely. “A lot of the growth in capacity has been driven by upsizing not just growth in number of installations,” Edis says, noting that the residential sector is effectively hitting a ceiling on its ability to upsize system size.
Last year, small power stations with the capacity between 100 kW – 5 MW took off big time and grew by more than 132%. This new solar sector, which comprises mainly rooftop systems and a bit of ground mount mixed in, will be the segment to watch this coming year.