Record numbers of Australian households procured rooftop solar panels in 2017 due to the increase in utility bills.A preliminary estimate by Australia’s Clean Energy Regulator suggests 1.05 gigawatts were installed in households across the country.
"We are on track to have had the biggest year yet for installed small-scale solar capacity” in 2017, according to the regulator statement.
"What we have seen is that homeowners and businesses continue to embrace solar panel systems, which is driving increased levels of capacity across Australia."
Solar power costs for residential users have fallen 44% since 2012. The payback period for residential solar is now as low as it was in 2012, making it a financially viable solution.
The surge in solar uptake was spurred on by increasing costs of electricity, caused by limited supplies of coal and gas, which fuel the bulk of generation capacity nationally.
Australia is considered one of the world’s largest users of rooftop solar, encouraged by the use of subsidies and generous feed-in tariffs implemented during the last decade.
According to the Clean Energy Council, “The steadily falling cost of both renewable energy and storage technology means that clean energy microgrids already make more economic sense for more parts of the country which have previously relied on diesel power”.
Rooftop solar will account for as much as 24 percent of Australia’s electricity by 2040, according to Bloomberg New Energy Finance 2017 New Energy Outlook. When combined with small-scale batteries and demand response initiatives, up to 45 percent of the country’s total power capacity will be located on owners’ properties by 2040.