Australian solar installs new record in November

Australian solar installs reached an all-time high of 120MW in November, eclipsing the 100MW in October and the record of 110MW set in June 2012, which was ‘artificially’ (for want of a better word) inflated as it was the last month before Queensland cut off the $0.44c premium feed-in tariff. These are massive numbers when compared with the previous few years and a fantastic indicator for the future of renewable energy in Australia. 

Australian Solar Installs in 2017

According to RenewEconomy and The Green Energy Markets’ Renewable Energy Index, for most months in 2016 solar installs were below 60MW and January 2016 had a measly install amount of 45MW. The reason for the big drop in numbers was due to the end of the premium feed-in tariffs and also the federal government’s substantial cutback of the amount of STC rebate certificates it provided. This means the cost of solar (and payback period) increased substantially, dropping the number of installs and casting doubt upon the industry as a whole.

Over the past 12-18 months, however, there’s been a perfect storm of the gigantic rise in the cost of wholesale electricity, better quality and price of solar panels and storage due to technology advances, and excitement about renewable energy have helped raise the numbers of solar uptake. Public perception and interest in the technology due to such projects as the massive Tesla battery in South Australia, German company sonnen’s ‘free power’ offering via sonnenFlat, and the Powerwall 2 battery have all led to Australia’s domestic and commercial solar uptake reaching this all-time high.

Australian Solar Installs 2017 - sonnen's sonnenFlat and sonnenBatterie
Australian Solar Installs 2017 – sonnen’s sonnenFlat and sonnenBatterie (source: sonnen.com.au)

The Renewable Energy Index for October 2017 showed that Queensland leads the way for Australia, with jobs coming via renewable energy projects (both large-scale and rooftop solar) almost doubling over four months from 3,634 at the end of 30 June 2017, to 7,194 in October.

 Amazing news for solar contractors and solar installers – although things may slow down a little over the Christmas period we can’t wait to see what 2018 brings to solar power in Australia. 

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Solar feed-in tariffs to rise by up to 140%

Despite electricity price hikes of up to 20% last week by AGL Energy, Origin, and EnergyAustralia, there is some respite for those with solar panels feeding energy back into the grid as the same providers have increased their solar feed-in tariffs. For those that aren’t on a grandfathered feed-in tariff, most people have been seeing a fairly low return of around 6c/kWh. These have been raised quite substantially in recent days. 2017 has been a tough year for electricity prices with occurrences such as the closing of the 1600MW Hazelwood coal-fired power plant putting a lot of strain on the system. Although a step in the right direction, renewable energy infrastructure investment vs. ROI still hasn’t reached that magical ‘tipping point’ where it’s a no brainer – especially for homeowners – so it’s great to see the FITs getting a commensurate boost!

Solar feed-in tariffs – 2017 Changes

Australian Solar Feed-In Tariffs 2017
Australian Solar Feed-In Tariffs 2017 (source: pixabay.com)

AGL will increase their solar feed-in tariffs quite significantly (they’ve stated that it could lead to as much as $332 in savings for some households):

  • From 6.8c/kWh to 16.3c/kWh in South Australia (140% increase)
  • From 5c/kWh to 11.3c/kWh in Victoria
  • From 6c/kWh to 10.5c/kWh in Queensland
  • From 6.1c/kWh to 11.1c/kWh in New South Wales

EnergyAustralia have also raised their FITs, with a statement discussing the higher wholesale price of electricity (over the last two years since the carbon tax was repealed the cost of wholesale energy has more than doubled). “The increase means customers will be paid more for the power they send back to the grid, reflecting recent rises in the broader wholesale electricity ­market,” a spokesman said.

  • From 8.2c/kWh to 15c/kWh in South Australia
  • From 6.1c/kWh to 12.5c/kWh in New South Wales
  • From 6c/kWh to 11c/kWh in Queensland

Origin haven’t announced specifics of their new solar feed-in tariffs yet but, according to The Australian, the new FITs will “reflect higher wholesale energy prices, and would be packaged with lower base rates and other discounts.”

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