The boom is small-scale rooftop solar installations has continued into 2019, with total installs for the first month of the year reaching 159.4MW - a record for the month that is typically affected by the summer holiday season.
As solar expert Nigel Morris commented in last week's Solar Insiders podcast, the word around the industry is that most people have barely had a break as they struggled to keep up with consumer demand.
Now we know why. The latest data from industry statistician Sunwiz shows a 49 per cent jump on the same month last year, and Victoria posting a record for any month of any year - 41MW - beating usual leaders Queensland and NSW to become the strongest market in the country.
In fact, it was the first time Victoria has taken the market lead since July, 2008, when it installed the grand total of 448kW!
South Australia, meanwhile, added 15MW in January and broke through the 1GW aggregate mark during the month, joining Queensland (2.4GW), NSW (1.87GW), Victoria (1.6GW) and Western Australia (1.07GW). South Australia, however, still leads the country in terms of penetration of solar on dwellings (32 per cent).
“The market barely took a breather over the summer holidays, with 159MW registered, the third-highest monthly volume on record,” Sunwiz director Warwick Johnston says.
All told, there is now 8.2GW of small-scale rooftop solar in Australia after the record breaking year in 2018 when nearly 1.6GW was installed. This does not include larger rooftop solar installations (100kW and above), nor the rapidly growing number of large scale, ground mounted solar farms.
Another interesting aspect of the January data is that the average system size rose to 7.7kW, a reflection of not just the larger systems being put on households, but also the growing uptake from small business (usually 30kW to 100kW systems).
The rooftop solar boom is likely to continue well into 2019 and beyond. The Victoria boost is helped by the Labor government's election promise to offer state-based rebates that aims to add another 650,000 homes over the next decade (twice its current numbers), or some 2.6GW of new rooftop solar.
The major parties in NSW are also looking to out-compete each other in terms of rebates, as Sophie Vorrath reports here,
with both Liberals and Labor offering significant incentives for rooftop solar installations and the Coalition doing the same for battery storage.
Giles Parkinson is founder and editor of Renew Economy
, and is also the founder of One Step Off The Grid
and founder/editor of The Driven
. Giles has been a journalist for 35 years and is a former business and deputy editor of the Australian Financial Review.