Australian households and small businesses have more than 3 million solar systems on their rooftops after a record number were installed last year, even through the disruption of lockdowns.
Solar panels being installed on a rooftop in Sydney. Credit:Bloomberg
With the Morrison government having joined most other wealthy nations in signing up to net-zero emissions by 2050, the Clean Energy Council said rooftop solar would be critical to achieving this target.
There were 279,000 solar systems installed in 2019 and about 369,000 in 2020, with growth continuing despite the pandemic, as large numbers of Australians worked from home and spent money on home improvements.
Australia leads the world in per-capita uptake of solar power, 22 per cent higher than Germany or Japan in 2020, according to the International Energy Agency.
“It’s obvious Australians want rooftop solar, they’re comfortable with the technology and it’s affordable,” said Kane Thornton, chief executive of the Clean Energy Council.
“It’s a critical way for people to reduce their power prices but also make a contribution to cutting their emissions.”
Mr Thornton said the average solar system now costs about $3000 or $4000.
The scale of rooftop solar means that on October 17, it accounted for almost 40 per cent of the demand in the National Electricity Market.
Mr Thornton said that every megawatt of rooftop solar created six jobs, which meant it was the largest generator of employment in the renewable energy industry.
Ellen Roberts, the national director of community-based solar owner organisation, Solar Citizens, said progress made in the energy industry will make it easier to slash pollution in sectors like transport and heavy industry.
“So far, it’s everyday people that have done the heavy lifting on carbon emissions reduction, while the Australian government has been dragging its feet,” Ms Roberts said.
“Because of the hard work of Australians, we’re in a good starting position to become a clean energy superpower that can export our sunshine to the world.”
Should this pace be maintained, by 2025 Australia will have more rooftop solar capacity than the country’s ageing fleet of coal-fired power.
The Australian Energy Market Operator, which oversees eastern Australia’s power grid, has said it expects renewables will supply as much as 90 per cent of electricity at times by 2035.
But Australian households are yet to install household batteries with such enthusiasm, with cost the main barrier.
Mr Thornton said household batteries are now at the stage that rooftop solar was around seven years ago, with only 100,000 homes fitted with batteries so far because of cost.
“We are starting to see the take-up rates really increase and we think there will be an acceleration like there has been with rooftop solar.”
Fascinating answers to perplexing questions delivered to your inbox every week. Sign up to get our new Explainer newsletter here.
Most Viewed in Environment
From our partners
Source: Read Full Article