On Monday 17 December in Adelaide, Solar Citizens launched a report entitled ‘Australia’s Rooftop RealEstate.’  In this document it is claimed that Australia is a world-leader in the residential uptake of solar PV - but across the country we’ve only just begun tapping into the extraordinary potential for rooftop solar.

 The report was commissioned by Solar Citizens and depicts the progress that Australian households have made towards re-powering our nation with clean, affordable solar.

The report states that at present the capacity of residential PV currently installed is 6 gigawatts (GW) but the potential of residential PV capacity is from 43 - 61GW. In other words we have utilised less than 1/6 of our available residential rooftop real estate. This is because close to 80% of stand-alone houses are yet to get PV. ’Considering Australia’s largest coal-fired power station is 2.88 GW, the findings of this report demonstrate the capacity that rooftop solar has to transform our energy system’ claims the report.

 Some statistics from the report show:-

  • 21.6% of all stand-alone houses in Australia now have a PV system installed

  • residential PV accounts for 61% of installed PV capacity in Australia

  • electricity generated from distributed PV grew 33% year-on-year over the last ten years

  •  the distributed PV saved the equivalent 7.4 millions tonnes of carbon dioxide from being produced by Australia’s electricity sector in just one year 

  • in the year to August 2018, distributed solar generated approximately 3% of Australia’s total energy consumption.

 Further statistics show some individual local government areas with the percentage of households with solar PV.  Of interest to South Australians are the following Local Government areas:

  • Mallala - 47.4%

  • Light     - 42.5%

  • Alexandrina - 42.3%

  • Orroroo/Carrieton - 41.9%

  • Barossa - 41.8%

 The report acknowledges that there are barriers that block renters, people living in apartments and low-income households from accessing the cost and environmental benefits of rooftop PV and suggest that these barriers need to be broken down.

In view of the above, Solar Citizens have made the following policy recommendations:

  1. directly fund the the installation of solar on public and community housing stock

  2. provide rebates as well as no-interest loans to support low-income and vulnerable households accessing solar

  3. implement schemes that incentivise solar on rental properties and enable landlords and tenants to split the benefits

  4. offer small grants, rebates, low-interest or no-interest loans to body corporates to allow for the installation of solar PV on apartment blocks

  5. reduce unnecessary administrative and regulatory barriers to apartment residents sharing solar energy through embedded networks

  6. reform electricity network tariffs to enable households to sell their excess solar generation to their neighbours

  7. support solar gardens for people whose rooftops can’t host a panel itself.   

The report concludes that across Australia, various government programs are helping more households and businesses relieve their electricity bill stress with solar PV.

From Victoria’s Solar Homes program to Queensland’s initiative to provide no-interest loans for houses wanting to go solar, there is work being done to keep rolling out rooftop solar. But with so much sunny rooftop real estate left untapped, there are abundant opportunities left for all levels of government to smash through the roadblocks that are stopping households from producing their own sun-power.

The full report is publicly available from www.solarcitizens.org.auand shows the research behind the report.

Elaine Attwood 



AuthorRay Dennis