Has Solar PV uptake dropped off in Australia?

Has Solar PV uptake dropped off in Australia?

With the world experiencing a COVID-19 pandemic, Australia has been through its second wave and is looking at the other side.  This combined with the tapering Solar Home Package rebate which is currently at a maximum of $1,850, we ask the question... Has Solar uptake dropped off in Australia? And what are the implications of this?

Let's take a look at the data provided by the Australian PV Institute.

Australian Solar PV Installations: Total Capacity (kW)

Created with Raphaël 2.1.205,000,00010,000,00015,000,00020,000,0002020201820162014201220102008200620042002

Ok, what we see here is a near exponential growth (I use this term with caution) as a cumulative value of the total amount of solar pv generation.  As of October 2020, there is just over 15.5GW of installed solar generation in Australia.  The trend in continuously growing and the curve keeps rising.  Globally, where do we sit with installed Solar PV capacity? Let's have a look.

Worldwide Solar PV Capacity: Total Capacity (GW)

Source: Our World in Data

As of the end of 2019, the world has just over 586GW of installed Solar PV.  If those solar panels are 300W each, thats 1.675 billion panels, wow.  For us Aussies, we sit at number 7 on the worldwide list. I think that's something we should be proud of, particularly considering the majority of this capacity is from households (>10GW) according to ARENA.  Put simply, 1 in 5 households have Solar PV installed!

Have Solar PV installations declined in Australia?

COVID-19 was declared a pandemic by the World Health Organisation on the 12th of March 2020.  From the data, it suggests we didn't see a decline until August this year with the decline continuing to the end of September and perhaps further (to be confirmed).

New Solar Installations in Australia

Source: Australian PV Institute

When we correlate the data from new Solar PV installations to COVID-19 case numbers we see the impact of the second wave on the solar industry.  The trendlines (dotted lines) indicate a gradual decline for 2020, where 2019 shows a gradual incline.  September is where these trendlines converge.  

New COVID-19 Cases in Australia per/day

Source: COVID19 Data

From July we see a significant increase in new COVID-19 cases as we see a decline in Solar PV installations.  The impact is here.  During both waves, many any states within Australia imposed lockdowns and restrictions to limit the spread of the virus.

Has the industry recovered?

We've presented the most up-to-date data so we're not sure.  Pre-pandemic we were seeing growing solar installations numbers year-on year. The COVID-19 pandemic is causing havoc in all aspects of our lives and the solar industry is no exception.  We are hopeful the continual growth of solar in this country will continue. Their are many forces at play; the Solar Homes Package rebate decline, the lowering cost of offsite battery storage, electricity distributors having over-voltage issues in the grid and more.  We will continue posting what we know and share this with you.   Stay safe.

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