Queensland Residents Double Down On Rooftop Solar (Graphs)

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Today’s graph of the day shows the number of rooftop solar systems in south-east Queensland, including the capital Brisbane and the Gold Coast, that are serviced by the Energex network.

The number of houses adding rooftop solar continues to surprise the network operators, with another 2,794 systems of 5kW or less added during the month of August. This was the lowest since early 2011, but it brought another 11.5MW of capacity into the system, despite the fact that participating households are being paid little for their exports.

The average size of the systems has also surprised network operators – 4.12kW, which is large considering the tariffs are designed to encourage self consumption. Perhaps the households are just using more electricity, or preparing for the addition of battery storage down the line.

There are now 66,737 systems on the retail-only feed-in tariff (green bar in graph), representing one-quarter of all small PV systems. The number of systems with the 44c/kWh tariff  (red bar in graph) has fallen as houses hosting those systems are sold.

Another interesting statistic is the growth in larger rooftop systems (5kW or more) during the month. In August, 107 large systems worth 1.47MW of capacity were connected to medium and large business and commercial customers in August, bringing the commercial systems total to 1,347 at 17.8MW of capacity.

The network operator believes this growth in large systems is fuelled by focused marketing, a desire to remain on energy-only tariffs (i.e. remain below the 100MWh pa threshold) and the maturing and more efficient connection processes under the ‘zero export’ option.

In total, Energex now has 267,656 rooftop solar PV systems connected and  871MW rated inverter capacity.  About half of this output is fed into the network, and half consumed at the point of generation.

energex systems aug 14

One other item of note is the amount of sunshine in the south-east corner of the state in the middle of winter. This graph below shows that in June and July, the amount of solar exposure was well ahead of the previous year. Given the increase in solar capacity (around 150MW) over the last 12 months, it helps explain how solar played a key role in the low wholesale prices and negative pricing events experienced in July.

energex solar

Source: RenewEconomy. Reproduced with permission.

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Giles Parkinson

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.

Giles Parkinson has 596 posts and counting. See all posts by Giles Parkinson

9 thoughts on “Queensland Residents Double Down On Rooftop Solar (Graphs)

  • am i reading this right?

    “In total, Energex now has 267,656 rooftop solar PV systems connected and 871MW rated inverter capacity. About half of this output is fed into the network, and half consumed at the point of generation.”

    So 435MW roughly is near free energy that they don’t have to produce but still get to sell?

    due to

    “despite the fact that participating households are being paid little for their exports.”

    • Yep. Some Queenslanders get zero cents for the solar electricity they export to the grid and their electricity distributor then immediately sells it to their neighbour for 30 cents a kilowatt-hour for an infinite profit margin. There is no set feed-in tariff for new solar for the majority of Queenslanders at the moment, only what their distributors decide to give them. Maybe six cents a kilowatt-hour, maybe nothing.

      • But don’t they still get the benefits of low power bills, even if they don’t get paid much for the solar export?

        • Avoiding using grid power in the day saves Australians about 30 cents (28 US cents) per kilowatt-hour. The feed-in tariff for new solar varies according to location but is generally low. In South Australia it is now 6 cents a kilowatt-hour. So if a household self consumes half the electricity generated by their rooftop solar will have an average value of about 18 cents a kilowatt-hour to them. If they have no feed-in tariff then it drops to about 15 cents a kilowatt-hour. Fortunately in Australia low costs of installation mean it is possible for people to save money by installing solar even if there is no feed-in tariff and the electricity exported to the grid is simply stolen.

          • Yep but what I understand the problem come down to who owns the transmission line applied there right like services fee for export like a parking meter applied to parking spaces.
            I don’t think anyone can get around that just like software rights. The only way is to build your own network of transmission lines by a fixed fee on solar users to raise capital.

          • Generation and distribution are separated in Australia. Distributors purchase electricity at the market wholesale price and sell it to customers at the retail price with an 800% or so mark up.

  • Australians may be clueless as voters, but you can’t accuse them of Germanic deference to the clowns they are unwise enough to put into office. The standoff between solar consumers and coal owners gets more and more intense. Cue Enrico Morricone music as the Man with No Name circles the villain.

    • Good News for all the ratepayers in AU, every PV panel is a big vote for less coal and/or dirty expensive energy generation.

  • New lower cost battery storage (either sat and alone or mounted in eVehicles) will change the playing field in AU, since then all those that generate their own Energy will be able to keep most of it for their own use instead of “giving” to the Grid/Utility and getting almost nothing for it in return.

    Hopefully soon someone will pass an AU Ruling that requires Utilities to pay a very large percentage of what they charge for that energy at the time it is put into the Grid, since Utility shareholders should not get to ripoff ratepayers that have installed PV panels or wind generators.

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