Money Solar panel installations 'skyrocket' in Australia

11:12  15 april  2017
11:12  15 april  2017 Source:

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Rising electricity prices and recent blackouts in South Australia are driving people across the country to embrace solar power, with panel installations in March at a five-year high.

Australians are installing solar panels in huge numbers according to energy experts Installations were also up in the states of New South Wales and Victoria -- home to the nation's two largest cities, Sydney and Melbourne, while South Australia also recorded a bumper month for installations .

  Solar panel installations 'skyrocket' in Australia © Provided by ABC Business There has been a big surge in the number of households installing solar panels, with March installations reaching their highest level in almost five years.

Warwick Johnston from energy consultancy firm Sunwiz crunched the numbers and said 91 megawatts of solar photovoltaic (PV) systems were installed during the month.

"March has been a very impressive month for 2017," he said.

"We already saw a surge starting to build up in 2016, and we were wondering if that was going to continue into 2017 and it really has just continued to skyrocket."

Queensland led the way, installing 25 megawatts of capacity, which is enough to power about 5,500 homes and businesses.

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The use of solar panels in Australia for homes has skyrocketed in the past 5 years. When Solar Charge pioneered and installed our first solar power system on a Melbourne suburban home way back in 1998 the most common type of solar panel (PV module) was crystalline silicon (X-Si).

In spite of cutbacks in various government programs that subsidized home solar installations , installations in Australia passed the half-million mark during 2011, according to the Clean Energy Council.

Installations were also up in South Australia, New South Wales and Victoria.

Mr Johnston said the recent blackouts in South Australia were a factor in the rising demand.

"We're seeing the uptake occur in states which weren't affected by those blackouts as well, so it really is people being aware that solar panels are a great way to beat rising electricity bills."

Installation figures in Tasmania, the Northern Territory and the ACT were flat.

Warwick and Lola Neilley recently installed a four-kilowatt system on the roof of their home in Melbourne's northern suburbs.

"We are paying basically $2 dollars per month in electricity," Lola Neilley said.

Mrs Neilley said a lot of people in her neighbourhood had installed solar panels.

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More homes installed solar panels in the third quarter than ever before. California continues to have the most installations , benefitting from a 10-year .167 billion program of incentives begun by former Gov.

"The council have what they called the 'nonna effect' where one grandmother installs the solar panels and tells the others," she said.

Sarah McNamara from the Australian Energy Council said it was not surprising consumers wanted more control over their power bills.

But she said it added a layer of complexity to the energy market.

"It gives retailers opportunities to provide attractive options for their solar PV customers in terms of the feed-in tariffs they're offering and perhaps other services as part of a retail package," she said.

"For the national energy market (NEM) it means there is more intermittent generation in the market.

"It's a good thing that there's more generation but a challenge for the NEM, because when the sun isn't shining in the area you live in then you are not able to generate electricity for your own home or to put back into the electricity market."

She said batteries were potentially an important part of the solution going forward.

"Overall, what we would say is what we need is good policy settings that are bipartisan at a federal and a state level, because then investors might consider investing in firm generation."

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