Australia’s Solar Installations Surpass 30 GW

C&I rooftop solar surpassed residential installations for the first time


Australia reached 30 GW of installed solar capacity at the end of 2022, according to a recently released report by Australian Photovoltaics Institute (APVI).

In 2022, commercial and industrial (C&I) rooftop solar (1.47 GW) surpassed residential installations (1.35 GW) for the first time.

Despite these additions and with one of the highest per-capita installed solar capacities globally, the APVI report notes that there was a 23% decline in new residential rooftop installations and a 20% decline in utility-scale installations since 2021.

Mercom earlier reported that Australia’s renewable energy industry completed 20 large-scale projects, adding 2,257 MW of new capacity in 2022, which is 23.6% lower than in 2021.

The decrease in utility-scale installations was primarily attributed to the large-scale systems support in 2020, which was under the Commonwealth Government’s Renewable Energy Target program for large-scale solar.

In 2022, solar penetration on free-standing homes reached an average of 37%, with new installations maintaining a high average size of over 8.7 kW.

The report said Australia continued its trend of doubling rooftop solar capacity every three years, with nearly 20 GW installed on residential, commercial, and industrial rooftops. This is a significant increase from 10.4 GW at the end of 2019 and 5.3 GW at the end of 2016.

The year 2022 saw another milestone with 4.2 GW of solar installations, surpassing the cumulative installations until the end of 2014, which amounted to 4.1 GW.

Resilient Rooftop Market and Agri-photovoltaic Integration

Australia’s rooftop solar market has been expanding steadily, with the average installation reaching 8.7 kW in 2022.

The report mentioned that the country’s strong demand for rooftop solar has consistently placed it among the top ten global markets for photovoltaics in terms of annual installations and total installed capacity, which is an achievement for a country with a population of only 26 million.

The rooftop solar market is expected to remain robust until 2030, driven by price pressures related to coal and gas supply, as well as increasing reliability issues with aging coal-fired plants facing decommissioning in the next decade.

By the end of 2022, over 3.3 million rooftop solar systems were installed, powering more than 37% of free-standing households nationwide. States like Queensland and South Australia led the way, with an average of close to 40% of free-standing homes powered by solar and some localities boasting rooftop solar densities exceeding 50%.

Interest in Agrivoltaics, which integrates solar installations into agriculture, is rising, with several case-study projects built in recent years.

State-led incentives support large-scale solar projects, and there is growing interest in ultra-large-scale projects for industrial use and electricity export, with several projects in the planning stage.

Reaching Net Zero Emissions

All Australian states aim to achieve zero carbon emissions by 2050 and plan for Renewable Energy Zones.

The report finds that the newly elected Federal government has committed to net-zero emissions, boosting investor confidence and paving the way for projected growth in the solar photovoltaic sector.

A joint report by the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organization and the Australian Energy Market Operator found that a mix of onshore wind and solar, with a variable renewable energy share of up to 90%, remains the most affordable source of power in Australia in 2022-23 after the COVID-19 pandemic.