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Published on February 26th, 2014 | by Giles Parkinson

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Rootop Solar Use In South Australia Surges In 2nd Half Of 2013

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February 26th, 2014 by
 
The uptake of rooftop solar PV in South Australia – already the state with the highest penetration of solar PV in the country – surged in the second half of 2013.

According to data provided by electricity distributor Spark Infrastructure, there was 548MW of rooftop solar PV on 157,000 South Australian rooftops as the end of the year. This represents 21.2 per cent of its about 750,000 residential customers.

According to Spark, the total capacity of rooftop solar PV in the state jumped 50 per cent over the year, from 366MW.

But the rate of installations actually doubled in the second half to 121MW, from 61MW in the first half, as the feed in tariff was reduced in September.

South Australia removed a 16c/kWh payment made through the networks in September, meaning that new households connections would receive only 9.8c/kWh for electricity exported to the grid.

That price has since fallen to 7.6c/kWh, as a result of falling wholesale prices (courtesy of South Australia’s large renewable contribution and falling demand), and will fall further to 6c/kWh when and if the carbon price is removed).

Rob Stobbe, the CEO of SA Power Networks, the South Australian business of Spark, said the average size of the rooftop solar PV systems has doubled to 4MWh from 2MWh, and the other interesting trend is the uptake by commercial users.

“If you look at trends overseas, it is starting to happen here, and that is the move from residential to commercial installations,” Stobbe told an analysts briefing on Monday.

“There is no doubt that once (rooftop solar PV) starts getting into commercial installations, it will have quite an impact (on the market.)” He said demand side management, such as battery storage, would also impact on customer use and pricing. It has already had an impact on deferring the peak by several hours and helping stabilise the grid during the recent heatwave.

Image courtesy of Energy Matters.

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About the Author

is the founding editor of RenewEconomy.com.au, an Australian-based website that provides news and analysis on cleantech, carbon, and climate issues. Giles is based in Sydney and is watching the (slow, but quickening) transformation of Australia's energy grid with great interest.



  • Ronald Brakels

    By the way, there shouldn’t be a 1.6 cent a kilowatt-hour drop in the feed-in tariff for solar if the carbon price is most foully murdered as South Australia’s electricity is the cleanest in mainland Australia. I would expect a drop of roughly one cent.

  • Ronald Brakels

    Solar update: It is around noon in Adelaide on a pleasent
    Saturday and rooftop solar is currently supplying about 31% of total
    electricity use in South Australia.

    • Bob_Wallace

      I assume your grid has melted down….

      • Ronald Brakels

        Yes, it certainly has. Everything is in flames. All rooftop solar systems are on fire and have been for years now. They burn with a very clear flame so it’s hard to notice. Wind turbines are striding through the city striking people down with their blades and adding the bodies to the mounds of dead birds in their hunting grounds. I myself have only survived by holding up a lump of brown coal to repel them. I am typing this from my underground bunker. If I am lucky the wind will die down tonight and I will be able to sneak out to get some food. Looking through my periscope I can see there is a mound of dead bald eagles just 100 meters away. But I have no hope of surviving if I venture out now. Cancer rays from the sun are streaming down, attracted by the large concentration of solar PV, making everything bright and causing the flowers that grow in profusion in the garden to inflict their lurid colours upon my eyes.

  • Ronald Brakels

    It is now around noon in South Australia on a Friday, grid demand is near the bottom of the daytime V, and rooftop solar is supplying about 27% of total electricity use.

  • CaptD

    Giles ==> Suggestion, perhaps you might consider a Solar article comparing SA to Germany or any other Country, I bet it would be very interesting.

  • Ronald Brakels

    South Australian update 12:40 pm local time: There is a little bit of cloud around Adelaide at the moment and that’s going to have some effect on solar output but not
    much. Unfortunately I have no real way to estimate its effect so I’ll just ignore it for now. If it was cloudless than rooftop solar would currently be providing about 25% of South Australia’s total electricity use. The clouds might make that a point or two lower.

    • Kent

      That right Ronald back on coal power, so much for you solar power it failed.

      • Ronald Brakels

        I thought this total solar eclipse was lasting a long time. Damn you, Doctor Soran! Damn you to heck!

  • Doug Cutler

    Hey, “Rootop Solar” . . . is that like, what they call rooftop solar in Oz?

    I think I like it.

    • Bob_Wallace

      No, rootop is mobile capacity.

      • Doug Cutler

        Growing by leaps and bounds, I hear.

  • Will E

    Totally agree with comments

    EV electric cars for storage your own produced Solar energy doubles the profit.
    the people must do it, no need for government in this case.

  • http://electrobatics.wordpress.com/ arne-nl

    “said the average size of the rooftop solar PV systems has doubled to 4MWh from 2MWh”

    Hi Giles, that’s an interesting metric that I have never seen before. I am accustomed to system sizes being specified in peak watts (kW or MW). But is this system size based on annual production?

    • Ronald Brakels

      Yes, that’s a typo. It should be kilowatts.

      • Kent

        What a rort solar power is. With any luck the liberal will stop solar.

        • Ronald Brakels

          I heard the Coalition were going to hire Doctor Tolian Soran to fire a trilithium missile into the sun, but he declined on account of being fictional. Or at least that’s what he said. Personally I think he was suffering from a bad case of Captain Kirk punchitis.

          • CaptD

            Either that or perhaps Capt. Kirk is listening to Scotty for a change, when he says, “She’s going blow…” ;^)

  • CaptD

    Salute to SA, they have the land mass and sunshine to become the poster boy of solar living and I predict that many new solar related businesses will relocate to SA if they have not done so already to surf SA’s Solar wave.

    If the people in India (and many other third World countries) were smart they would be focused on what SA and Germany are doing since they now are leading the Worlds conversion away from traditional Big Energy (Nuclear, Gas and Coal Generation toward safe, clean low cost independent generation!

    • Ronald Brakels

      I’ll mention that South Australia’s entire solar capacity is all point of use. That’s means it’s basically all on rooftops, so our large land mass hasn’t really come into it. Technically we could meet our entire electricity demand just from solar panels on our roofs, although that would take a bit of storage. And I’ll also mention that India has made a good start on solar and it certain to supply a great deal of their electricity use, along with wind.

  • No way

    Nice… when the government doesn’t do anything then you need to take it into your own hands. Australia has a great potential of easily having all fossil free electricity. This revolution could take them there in a decade if they work hard on it.

    • CaptD

      When, and I think it will be within 5 years, people living in SA also start using eVehicles that can, not only be charged by their own Solar panels but whose batteries can help store the energy their Solar panels produce, instead of pumping it back into the grid, then their conversion to Solar will accelerate exponentially!

      It is a good bet that one of Tesla’s new advanced battery factories will be located in SA, since the use of residential (battery) storage will transform installing Solar from just a good idea to must have!

      • JamesWimberley

        The synergy is real but should not be oversold. Commuters need daytime ev charging at work and nightime at home; commercial users like bus and van operators must have nighttime charging. So evs don’t provide general independence from the grid. In an all-renewable economy, they need wind too.

        • Bob_Wallace

          Agreed. While solar is going to be a major player in supplying our electricity we can’t overlook the role wind will play.

          The wind simply blows more hours of the day. The wind blows more at night when EVs will be parked for extended times. The grid is less loaded during the night making it easier to find space to charge EVs.

          The price of solar is dropping but it may not be able to produce as cheaply as wind. We’re hoping for $1/watt installed solar which will bring the cost of solar-electricity down to where wind is today. And wind will get cheaper.

          • Ronald Brakels

            Well, solar is cheaper than wind in Australia. It gets electricity to where we want it at a lower cost than anything on the grid. But rooftop solar and utility wind have a nice synergy and both are very useful.

          • CaptD

            Agreed, ideally most users would pay a small monthly fee to be connected to the Grid, so that they could when needed, us Grid supplied energy. The other component of the ideal situation would be that when people pushed their local generated energy into the grid they would get a fair price for it, which would be either the same or almost the same as what the Utility charges for the same energy at the time it is generated. Those receiving energy from the Grid cannot tell if it was generated next door or across the country so whoever generates the energy put into the Grid should get the same amount as any other generator.

            This logic would not only reduce the payback period of installed Solar but keep Utilities from taking advantage of their rate payers (end users) since they could not overcharge customers and most importantly the overall cost of energy would tend to go down since newer generation would be ever more efficient.

        • CaptD

          Most commuters are now able to recharge their eVehicles only at night, since their daytime travel mileage is well below the maximum distance/capacity of what their battery will provide. I also look for manufactures to start providing two (or more) batteries for those owners that require greater range and/or just want to capture/store more of the energy they either produce themselves or to take advantage of low cost recharging time periods like after midnight when Utilities charge (pun intended) less. These extra batteries could then be considered as a low cost way to provide additional energy for home usage and/or travel when needed.

      • Ronald Brakels

        CaptD, South Australia would be a good location in Australia to build a battery factory. But the cost of capital is higher in Australia than many other countries as we have Dutch Disease where reliance on exports damages manufacturing. And with our current government increasing subsidies to coal and gas exports and putting off the planned increase in our forced savings rate, they seemed determined to damage manufacturing more, so we will probably end up importing our batteries.

      • No way

        It would be a horrible bet to think that a Tesla battery factory will be built in Australia. Their $6 billion (or was it $8 billion?) factory in the US will be enough for a while. After that it’s more likely to build in China and Europe (at the earliest in 2020).

        But they might expand so that you can buy their SunCity energy storage solutions at least.

  • Ronald Brakels

    On Sunday at around noon solar was supplying around 25% of total electricity use in South Australia. Or at least I thought it was. If these latest figures are correct then it was actually supplying about 28% or more of total electricity use.

    • CaptD

      I bet if you compare both Solar usage and installation charts for the last few years you will see an exponential rise that will only get more dramatic as the Big Four make Solars even a better deal by dramatically reducing the payback period of its installation:

      1. The cost of PV panels is dropping almost monthly

      2. The warrantees are getting longer as panel manufacturing improves

      3. Storage of generated energy vs grid pumping becomes commonplace

      4. eVehicles that allow “home” charging are now becoming mainstream.

    • Kent

      You got it wrong, coal power energy was supplying solar powered home more then 28 % of the time.

      • Ronald Brakels

        I am proud of the fact that South Australia now produces more than twice as much electricity from wind and solar as it produces from coal.

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