‘Remarkably resilient’ Australian rooftop PV market records 18% growth in 2020

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Rooftop PV in Australia has rebounded following the impact of COVID-19. Image: istock/wx-bradwang

Rooftop solar PV installations grew 18% in Australia in 2020 despite the impacts of COVID-19, with Victoria in particular seeing a “spectacular comeback”.

This is according to the Australian Energy Council, which found that 2.6GW of capacity and 333,978 installations were added to the grid across the country in the year. Both of these were around 18% higher than in 2019, which recorded a 2.2GW increase in capacity and 284,000 installations.

Australian Energy Council’s chief executive, Sarah McNamara, said that while there was a “noticeable dip in installations in April 2020” as a result of COVID-19, since then “the general trend has been for continued growth”.

It was New South Wales that reported the highest monthly installations, while Queensland took over the second spot from Victoria in Q4 of 2020, according to the council.

Victoria faced several hurdles throughout the year, with Stage 4 COVID-19 restrictions seeing new solar installations drop by more than half in August and September 2020. Across the two months, there were  6,161 systems installed, a drop of 56% when compared to the previous two months which saw 14,091 installations.

These restrictions meant that in Melbourne and the Mitchell Shire installers were only able to attend up to three sites per week, with solar not able to be installed on occupied homes except for new builds or when the home was fully vacated, meaning installations in these areas saw a low of only 490 in September 2020.

Figures did, however, rebound in October and November according to the council, with Victoria reporting a 3% growth in capacity installed in 2020 as a whole when compared to 2019, coming in at 483MW installed compared to 468MW.

It was in November that the state doubled down on its rooftop solar and home battery subsidy programme, announcing that AU$191 million (US$140 million) will be provided by the state government to expand the Solar Homes programme. As a result of the extra funding boost, a further 42,000 rebates are to be on offer for rooftop PV over the next two years, while small businesses will be able to apply to the scheme for the first time, with 15,000 rebates available.

McNamara also pointed to how the rooftop solar capacity in Victoria has “seen the state’s minimum electricity demand continue to fall”, with the state recording a new record for minimum demand of 2,529MW on Christmas Day.

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