Australia’s rooftop solar produces enough energy to power this city

We love a sunburnt rooftop. A land of energy gains and Australia’s rooftop solar produces enough energy to power this city.

As a nation we’ve fallen for rooftop solar panels in a big way, that much is obvious just from driving around our suburbs and towns and looking up.

Now it’s official. Australia’s homes and businesses have collectively reached the impressive milestone of 6000 megawatt capacity.

That’s enough electricity to power more than 1.8 million homes (or every single home in Sydney).

There are now almost 2.8 million small-scale installations in Australia. Queensland has the largest uptake of systems under the Small-scale Renewable Energy Scheme, followed by South Australia and then Western Australia.

Australia's rooftop solar economy infographic
Australia’s rooftop solar economy infographic. IMAGE: Clean Energy Regulator.

Clean Energy Regulator Executive General Manager Mark Williamson said these installations now have the capacity to generate or displace approximately 11.2 million MWh of electricity each year.

“More than one in five Australian households now have solar panels installed on their roof, and that’s the highest rate per capita in the world,” Mr Williamson said.

“We’ve also recorded a trend in larger systems being installed over the past few years, with the average capacity of a system increasing by 12 per cent from 2015 to 2016.”

More households, schools, community groups and businesses are looking to install solar panel systems. On top of this, prices are reducing to allow families to afford bigger systems”, Mr Williamson said.

At ARENA, we are enthusiastic supporters of rooftop solar uptake. While most of our projects operate on a much larger scale, ARENA is funding plenty of initiatives that integrate with and build upon the stunning success of rooftop solar.

In suburban Adelaide, our AGL Virtual Power Plant project is a world-leading prototype that involves connecting a large number of solar battery storage systems across 1000 residential and business premises, to be managed by a cloud-based control system.

ARENA has contributed $5 million towards the $20 million cost of the project. The batteries will be able to ‘talk’ to each other through a cloud-based platform using smart controls, forming a connected system that will be able to operate as a 5 MW solar power plant.

At Alkimos Beach, Western Australia, we’re helping to fund a $6.7 million solar and storage trial that will combine community scale battery storage, high penetration rooftop solar PV and energy management at 100 homes within a new residential development.

The Small-scale Renewable Energy Scheme provides incentives to households and businesses by issuing small-scale technology certificates for every megawatt hour of renewable energy generated or displaced by an accredited solar panel, wind, hydro system, solar water heater or air source heat pump.

Small-scale systems include capacity of up to 100 kilowatts, or about 20 times the size of the average household system.

Anyone can jump online and calculate the number of small-scale technology certificates a system may be eligible for using the small generation unit calculator and solar water heater calculator.

More information is available about the Small-scale Renewable Energy Scheme, including the full small-scale renewable energy installation data set.

This article was originally written by Daniel Silkstone, former Head of Content, ARENA.