While Australia’s federal politicians are bickering over net zero targets and a plan to meet them, households and small businesses are doing the heavy lifting on emissions reductions with more than 3 million rooftop solar systems now installed.
This milestone comes after rooftop solar achieved record installation levels in 2019 (with approximately 279,000 solar systems installed) and 2020 (with approximately 369,000 systems installed); with growth continuing despite lockdowns as sales surged with large numbers of Australians forced to work from home.
SunWiz managing director and solar market analyst Warwick Johnston said passing three million solar installations was a remarkable milestone.
Johnston said: “Thanks to our homeowners, Australia leads the world in per-capita uptake of solar power – 22 per cent higher per capita than Germany or Japan in 2020, according to the International Energy Agency.”
“The transformation of Australia’s carbon-intensive electricity supply has been led by households directly investing in solar power on their homes. Not just because it benefits the planet – because it makes financial sense to do so.”
“Thanks to Australia’s highly-efficient solar workforce, Australia is one of the lowest-cost countries for a rooftop installation. Our abundant sunshine, large homes and high electricity prices combine to make paybacks in Australia shorter than in most other countries.”
Clean Energy Council chief executive Kane Thornton said said Australia has long been the world leader in household solar installations, helping consumers lower their power bills, reducing pressure on the energy grid during the summer peak, reducing emissions and playing a key role in keeping the economy moving.
Thornton added: “On average, more than 41 solar systems are being installed every hour across Australia, equating to one panel every 44 seconds.
“This sheer scale means that on 17 October, rooftop solar was able to account for 38 per cent share of demand on the National Electricity Market.
“For every megawatt of new rooftop solar, six jobs are created each year, illustrating that it is the largest generator of employment in the renewable energy industry. These are skilled workers, employed by small- to medium-sized businesses that are critical to local economies right across Australia.
“Having more than 3 million rooftop solar systems now installed is a transformational change as Australians take control of their energy bills, do their bit to tackle the impact of global warming and support small business.
“In a recent Transgrid report Energy Vision, under the Prosumer Power scenario, the operator of the transmission network in NSW and ACT predicted that more than 80 per cent of Australian homes could have rooftop solar by 2050.
“In this scenario, the generation from rooftop solar alone would supply 27 percent of the National Electricity Market’s generation needs.”
With the Morrison Government having finally joined most other wealthy nations in committing to net-zero emissions by 2050, the Clean Energy Council said rooftop solar would be critical to Australia achieving this target.