At 119 MW, Australia’s Rooftop Solar Capacity Additions in September Lowest in a Year

Australia installed 119.47 MW of rooftop solar capacity in September this year, a decrease of 57 MW, compared to the same period last year, according to Australia’s Clean Energy Regulator (CER).  This was a 29% decrease from the installation numbers recorded in September 2019.

Australia had around 10.22 GW of cumulative installed rooftop solar capacity at the end of 2019, 7.97 GW at the end of 2018, and 6.47 GW at the end of 2017. The rooftop installations have witnessed gradual growth in the last few years. Australia’s cumulative rooftop solar capacity stood at 12.1 GW at the end of September 2020.

Australia Rooftop PV Installations (MW), Sep 2019 - Sep 2020

As per the CER data, Australia installed nearly 279 MW of small-scale renewable energy projects in the first nine months of the year. Small-scale solar systems accounted for 236 MW, and solar water heaters accounted for 42.7 MW.

New South Wales led the way in small solar installations with 70 MW of installed capacity in the first nine months of the year, followed closely by Queensland with 58 MW installed capacity. The state of Victoria came third with 45 MW of installed capacity.


For solar water heaters, the state of Victoria led the way with 19 MW of installed capacity, followed closely by Queensland and Western Australia with 7.6 MW and 6.2 MW, respectively.

In the category of solar systems with battery storage, Southern Australia recorded the highest numbers with 2.7 MW, followed closely by New South Wales and Victoria with 1.1 MW and 854 kW, respectively.

In the latest report published by the Australian Energy Market Operator (AEMO), the National Electricity Market’s (NEM) average operational demand decreased by 313 MW in Q3 2020, 1.4% compared to the same period last year because of the increased rooftop demand and reduced underlying demand.

Speaking on this trend, AEMO managing director and CEO Audrey Zibelman said, “Electricity demand continues to reflect COVID‑19 impacts with reductions observed in Victoria, Queensland and New South Wales, while residential heating drove an increase in electricity demand in South Australia.”

“The uptake of residential and commercial solar continues at a record pace, which was largely responsible for new minimum operational demand records in Victoria, South Australia, and Western Australia,” she added.

According to the report, the mainland average electricity prices declined by 45-48% in the third quarter of 2020 compared to Q3 2019. South Australia recorded its lowest Q3 average of $40 (₹2,941)/MWh since 2011, while its September average of $15 (~₹1,103)/MWh was its record monthly low. Queensland remained the lowest-priced NEM region.

Compared to Q3 2019, quarterly average renewable energy output increased by 355 MW, with wind and grid-connected solar projects contributing 250 MW and 105 MW, respectively. As new projects continued to ramp up to full output and Q3 typically the windiest quarter of the year, this resulted in a spike in renewable numbers.

Wind generation reached a record quarterly high of 2.5 GW on average, surpassing the previous record set in Q3 2019 by 11%.

In Victoria, the increased generation of 118 MW was predominantly due to the continued ramp-up of recently commissioned projects, offsetting a 6% reduction in average quarterly wind capacity factors due to curtailment and lower wind speeds.

As per the report, the average grid-scale solar generation was 689 MW for the third quarter, with the largest increase reported in New South Wales.

The NEM’s battery revenue declined to $6.1 million (~₹448.5 million), its lowest since Q4 2018. The decline may be attributed to the outages of the Hornsdale Power Reserve during its expansion.

Earlier, Mercom reported that Australia had installed 107.56 MW of rooftop solar capacity in August 2020, an increase of 67 MW compared to 175 MW installed in the same month last year.

Last month, the Australian Renewable Energy Agency received a funding package worth $1.62 billion (~₹119.1 billion) from the government to enhance the utilization of low emission technologies to cut emissions across the chain.