When it comes to rooftop solar, Australia is number one in the world. There are more than 1.6 million solar rooftops glinting across the country, up from 14,000 systems just seven years ago. And the numbers are still growing with around 3,000 Australian households going solar every single week.
The fact is, solar has become the new normal - as common as a BBQ on Australia Day. Once the territory of the hardened greenie or off-grid obsessive, now 20 per cent of Australians are reaping the benefits of generating their own cheap, clean power from the sun every day.
Australians love their solar, plain and simple. Recent polls show 87% of us support rooftop solar panels and 78% back large-scale solar farms. Market analysis suggests that in only five years every rooftop in Australia that is suitable for solar will have panels installed.
What’s driving the growth in rooftop solar?
Going solar has never been more affordable. Costs have plummeted in recent years with the price of panels and inverters falling more than 75% since the end of 2009. Meanwhile, electricity prices have continued to skyrocket. It’s little wonder that, these days, it’s lower income and regional families that are most likely to have rooftop solar installed.
Along with plummeting prices, Federal policies such as the Renewable Energy Target help reduce up-front investment costs for residential installs, and state-based feed-in-tariffs that compensate solar owners for the electricity they feed back into the grid can help systems pay for themselves more quickly.
And the incentives don’t stop there. Solar has heralded the rise of the active, engaged consumer, or the “prosumer”. In simple terms, when people go solar they take control - monitoring their electricity usage, changing lightbulbs and taking the next steps in energy efficiency in order to maximise their return on investment.
What does the future hold for Australian solar?
The future is looking very sunny! A recent report from Morgan Stanley suggests a likely market of 2.4 million new solar households in the National Electricity Market, which covers Queensland, New South Wales, Victoria, South Australia and Tasmania.
What’s more, as affordable home battery storage comes online, a predicted 1.1 million suitable households are set to take advantage of storage technology, allowing them to power their homes with solar through the day and night.
The growth of solar in Australia has seen an industry blossom, created thousands of jobs, generated millions in investment and put power back in the hands of everyday people. But the rooftop revolution poses a serious challenge to established and powerful industries.
We need these industries to modernise and embrace Australia’s solar future - and our nation needs an orderly and planned transition of our electricity system. Unfortunately, big companies continue to direct considerable resources towards slowing the rollout of rooftop solar, limiting large-scale solar and wind development and undermining the growth of clean energy. You can read more about what stands in our way here.
Want to take action to ensure a strong solar future for Australia? Click here to see our current campaigns.