Rooftop solar pays off as more homes switch on

Solar energy was given a second wind in 2023 thanks to a massive uptake in Aussies lowering their hefty electric bills with rooftop systems. 

Jarrod
By Jarrod
5 Min Read

The solar industry was given a second wind in 2023 thanks to a massive uptake in Aussies looking to lower their hefty electric bills with rooftop systems. 

The report by solar energy consultant firm Sunwiz found that rooftop solar power systems were installed almost 11 per cent faster in Australia in 2023 than in 2022, falling just short of record levels in 2021. 

Panels installed on rooftops made up a huge proportion of the solar systems adopted last year, with homes and businesses assuming the heavy lifting on grid decarbonisation – households in particular.

The report reveals that a “whopping” 2.5GW of the 3.15GW of the sub-100kW solar installed on rooftops was residential – equivalent to 6.1 million average-sized solar panels.

Another 0.9GW was made up of commercial rooftop systems – with a third of those made up of systems larger than 100kW. Solar farms, meanwhile, contributed just 1.1GW of new capacity for the year.

“Residential solar remains the mainstay of the Australian solar success story, representing more than half the total solar power installed nationwide,” the report says.

Electricity bills continue to soar

It’s no surprise Aussies have turned to solar to slash household costs as the country continues to be caught amid a cost-of-living crisis. 

Last year, apparent ‘market difficulties’ saw power companies send electricity bills skyrocketing in most homes, with the Australian Energy Regulator saying Aussies could expect to be paying 25 per cent more this year than they were in 2022.

As the cost of installation for rooftop systems continues to fall, SunWiz Managing Director Warwick Johnston said solar power remains the most popular way homeowners are reducing electric bills.

“With more than 3.7 million solar power systems installed, Australia remains the world’s leading country for per-capita uptake of rooftop solar power. There are more than three solar panels installed for every Australian,” Mr Johnston said.

“Despite household and business budgets being hit hard by inflation and interest rate increases, solar power systems fell in price in 2023. 

Energy from household systems is the first used within the premises and any excess creates a bill credit, or feed-in tariff, that is far lower than the price of electricity from the grid.

That means that homeowners can shift their heaviest energy use to daytime hours to take advantage of free solar and add a battery to store energy for later use to run major household appliances at a fraction of the cost. 

“We’ve also seen many Australians installing larger solar systems and even upgrading existing units, in order to power electric vehicles and home energy storage systems, like batteries,” added Johnston.

“Solar power is now a major contributor to the nation’s energy requirements. South Australia is regularly powered by 100% solar energy, with occasions where all that state’s energy needs are met by rooftop solar.”

Solar farms lag behind

While solar panels might now sit upon most Aussie homes, the nation’s solar industry actually contracted last year for the first time since 2013. 

The downturn was primarily due to the reduced number of energised large-scale solar farms. Only ten new solar farms started producing energy in 2023, a 60 per cent reduction on the energy produced from the previous year and the worst year for solar farms since before their rollout began in earnest in 2018.

In the report, Mr Johnston said a ‘decade of inaction’ by the federal government was to blame for stalling the industry’s growth. 

“A decade of inaction and blocking by the previous federal government resulted in stalling development of solar farms, which eventually resulted in reduced construction,” he said.

“While we expect continued growth in rooftop PV deployment, the number of solar farms likely to come online in 2024 looks set to further contract.

“This demonstrates the need for federal and state governments to implement policy changes that accelerate the development and construction of solar farms, while swiftly acting to support the roll out of commercial solar power and home energy storage systems.”

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Jarrod
By Jarrod
Jarrod Brown combines his background in journalism, copywriting and digital marketing with a lifelong passion for storytelling. He has a strong passion for new and emerging consumer technology within the building sector. He lives on the Sunshine Coast - usually found glued to the deck of a surfboard.