Analysts report 2.13GW annual small-scale solar surge in bushfire-ridden Australia

Image credit: Michael Coghlan / Flickr

Australia’s many environmental controversies of 2019 did not stop the country from achieving the highest roll-out of small-scale solar it has seen in history, according to analysts.

Research recently released by consultancy SunWiz found the country registered 2.13GW of PV systems under the 100kW mark between January and December last year.

The 2019 installation volumes are 35% up on the 1.576GW rolled out Australia-wide throughout 2018, which themselves represented a 50% jump on the 1.076GW added in 2017.

The 2.13GW in new sub-100kW PV systems places the segment far ahead of its 2010-2016 performance in Australia, vastly surpassing the annual 339-976MW recorded during that period.

As noted by SunWiz’s managing director Warwick Johnston, the Australia-wide bonanza was helped along by the fact that every state bar Tasmania took small-scale PV roll-out to record levels in 2019.

According to the firm’s stats, New South Wales and Queensland led the state-level ranking of sub-100kW additions, each adding between 550MW and 600MW between January and December.

At around 450MW, Victoria scored third, followed by West Australia and South Australia (each added 200-250MW), themselves distantly trailed by Tasmania, Canberra and the Northern Territory.

Victoria – where PV state support was controversially rationed last year – could have placed higher if it hadn’t “reached for the handbrake while driving along the expressway”, Johnston remarked.

Solar influx seen as grid ally in bushfire season

SunWiz’s figures were seized upon by the consultancy’s managing director as a sign that 2020 may prove a positive year for Australian small-scale solar.

“Our success in 2019 wasn’t dependent upon any one state (indeed it would have been higher if Victoria hadn’t switched on the brakes mid-year),” Johnston wrote in a statement.

The small-scale solar surge brings a rare piece of good green news to Australia’s rocky start of the decade, with over 20 dead as vast swathes of the southeast burned under weeks-long bushfires.

The government of prime minister Scott Morrison, re-elected last May, has been intensely criticised over its handling of the blazes and its perceived reluctance to draw links with climate change.

The policy controversies building over 2019 did not stop Australia from witnessing momentum with utility-scale solar, including sound deployment figures and a rise of colossal hybrid ventures.

Last year’s huge PV influx – 90% of the 3.7GW added over the year was solar – was positively seen by market regulators, who believe it could help prevent blackouts during the summer season.

The appearance of warning signs, such as a “dramatic” slide in clean energy funding, may yet dampen solar prospects going forward. Investor confidence recently hit an 18-month low.

The industry has long campaigned against so-called marginal loss factors – revenue-determining rules around grid power losses – but has failed, so far, to convince the operator to scrap the system.

15 September 2022
Bifacial PV modules will be the dominant solar PV technology globally within one or two years; in the utility-scale sector, their market share is already above 70%. This webinar will provide a clear view on the successful implementation of bifacial technology, maximizing system performance and minimising LCoE.
4 October 2022
Solar & Storage Finance USA, the only event that connects developers to capital and capital to solar and storage projects, will be back in November 2022.

Read Next

August 8, 2022
A introduction to Yingli Solar’s new YLM 3.0 Pro 415W module for both residential installations and commercial projects
August 5, 2022
Germany solar developer Wirsol Energy has received development approval for its Maryvale solar and energy storage project in New South Wales (NSW) by the NSW Department of Planning, Industry and Environment.
August 3, 2022
Last week, the Australian federal government proposed legislation that will lock-in Australia’s commitment to achieve net zero by 2050 as well as providing greater oversight and accountability over progress on climate change in a sharp departure from the previous administration.
August 3, 2022
Spain has started the process to celebrate a fourth round of renewables auction in November with 1.8GW of solar capacity to accelerate its electrification.
August 2, 2022
Swiss PV module manufacturer Meyer Burger has slashed its production plans for 2022 and 2023, citing a “challenging supply chain environment” which has caused delays to its planned production capacity build out.
August 1, 2022
US utility CenterPoint Energy has sought approval from the Indiana Utility Regulation Commission (IURC) to acquire a 130MW solar PV project in Pike County, Indiana.

Subscribe to Newsletter

Upcoming Events

Upcoming Webinars
September 7, 2022
15:30 AEST (UTC +10)
Solar Media Events
September 14, 2022
Solar Media Events
October 4, 2022
New York, USA
Solar Media Events
October 11, 2022
Virtual event