20% Of Australian Households Now Have Solar Power

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Originally published on RenewEconomy.
By Sophie Vorrath

One out of every five Australian households are turning to solar energy for their electricity or hot water, new data has reveled.

The Australian Bureau of Statistics reports that its latest figures show that 19 per cent of households nationally now currently either rooftop solar panels or solar powered hot water systems – up from about 5 per cent back in 2011, when the ABS first started publishing statistics on solar.

Of the 19 per cent, 14 per cent of these households have rooftop PV, according to the ABS’s Karen Connaughton.

“Add in solar hot water heating and we’re up to 19 per cent, so one in five households are now using some form of solar power.”

Unsurprisingly, South Australia scored highest for rooftop solar installations, with a huge 24 per cent of households there tapping electricity from the sun.

Screen-Shot-2014-12-04-at-1.03.04-PMQueensland is second highest, with 20 per cent rooftop solar penetration, followed by WA with 16 per cent, Victoria with 11 per cent, ACT and NSW both on 10 per cent, Tasmania at seven per cent and NT at six per cent.

The ABS statistics also found that almost all households in Australia (99.7 per cent) used mains electricity as a source of energy, while half (50 per cent) used mains gas.

One in five households used LPG/bottled gas (20 per cent), and 14 per cent of households used another source of energy.

The report also notes that three-quarters of Australian households use some form of cooling, with just under half choosing reverse cycle air conditioning and the remainder mostly split between refrigerated air conditioning and evaporative coolers.

“The hot spot for cooling was the Northern Territory,” said Connaughton, “where 97 per cent of households had some form of cooling.” Tasmania had the least, with only about half of all households having air-con.

Reprinted with permission.

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23 thoughts on “20% Of Australian Households Now Have Solar Power

  • What’s up with the Northern Territory, the hottest state in Australia? The population is numerically insignificant, but I’m curious why they are so different in solar habits from say Queensland.

    • Probably historical FiTs, but just a hunch, and I’m sure it’s more complicated than that.

    • While feed-in tariffs for solar are currently the highest in Australia, the Northern Territory is not a state where people tend to live, but a territory they tend to vist. The population is only 244,000 and a considerable portion are people who are there to work in mines or support industries such as stripping and leave when the job is over. Home ownership is only 46% which is much less than the Australian average of 67% and privately owned homes is where most of Australia’s PV is located. So while it makes sense for the Northern Territory to install a lot of solar, the temporary nature of many people’s lives there means many don’t install it and I would guess that has resulted in a slower change in people’s perceptions where installing solar becomes a normal thing.

      Another important factor in the Northern Territory is that while retail electricity prices are now about average for Australia, they used to be high by Australian standards and so they haven’t undergone the same rapid increases that electricity prices in the states did and which drove many people to get solar. Basically electricity wasn’t cheap in the Northern Territory, but it was less annoying.

  • So does Australia have the largest household PV percentage in the world? They appear to be a model to follow for residential at least.
    Caribbean islands need to get with the program.

    • Boy, howdy!

      Most islands should have been mainly wind and solar long ago. Importing diesel is very expensive. Keep the diesel gen greased up for backup but eliminate most of the fuel costs.

      • Yes and throw in some batteries for smoothing. Oh and please leave the paper umbrella out of my drink.

      • Part of the problem is Venezuela. Hugo Chavez decided to supply the Carribean islands with hugely discounted fuel oil in order to buy allies for his insanse ‘Bolivarean Revolution’.

        Now that Venezuela’s public finances continue to deteriorate, chances are this assistance will end. Perhaps that’s the kick in the behind Caribbean governments need to make the switch.

      • I was in Provo recently and noticed no solar. I am told that the government outlawed it because the wealthy owners on the beaches were installing it and leaving the less fortunate with higher bills to support the distribution and generation infrastructure. The wealthy sill used the infrastructure, they just didn’t pay because they got credits on their bills for solar that they generated.

        • I find nothing by searching “Provo outlaws solar”.

          Perhaps you could gather up some info? Sounds fishy to me.

          • I will check with my son who looked it up for us. He’s a research engineer in the renewable field…

          • I found a couple of things that help explain that there is a problem. I have visited the Island twice and having been in the power business, I was interested in knowing why the place seemed to have absolutely no solar.



            It does look like the power company in Provo is installing a test solar project. Without doubt, storage is a problem, clouds moving over the island would make balancing the grid impossible without a huge amount of battery or other storage. the transfer of costs can be handled with proper rates and contracts…

          • The ‘Beautiful by Nature’ looks to be about outlawing stuff like fueled generators. It exempts solar and wind.

            3. (2) a & b

          • Apparently the power company hasn’t hooked up people with solar in the past. That’s a problem if have solar and you want power at night.

          • Or go stand-alone. Off grid.

            That’s how I’ve run my life for over 25 years. It’s night time here and the lights are on.

          • That’s cool! Very few people are in your position. I have a friend who wants to set up a system. Can you describe yours? I am also interested in some solar for my house, but I don’t expect to go off grid due to the cost, at least not for a while.

          • Sure. My system is small because panels were much more expensive when I built it.

            I have 1.2 kW (1,200 watts) of panels mounted on ground racks. A 4,000 watt inverter that will give a short term 8,000 watt output which allows me to start large power tools (big surge during starting). And 12 “golf cart” batteries which will carry me a couple of days with no solar input.

            When I put the system together all that along with all the wire, racks and other bits and pieces plus an electric start diesel generator it cost less than $10,000. (The utility wanted $300,000 to hook me to the grid.)

            I have to replace my batteries about once every 7 years. Last time it cost $2k. These batteries should last 10 years.

            With that we have two computers with large monitors and wifi running all waking hours. A normal stereo receiver on from the time we get up until after we go to sleep. A normal 18 cubic foot Kenmore Energy Star refrigerator. A couple of “100 watt” LED light on after the Sun sets.

            We pump water to storage tanks higher than the house when there’s extra sunshine and use gravity flow back to the house. We also do laundry on sunny days and dry on a line. I use my wood shop on days when there’s lots of sunshine. All this stuff would be described as “shifted load”.

            Water heating and cooking with propane. Heating (and some cooking) with wood.

            Now that panels have become so inexpensive I’m considering adding a couple more kW in order to cut back on generator use. And I’m looking forward to cheaper storage as another way to drop fuel use.

            I’m running my gen about 300 hours a year. About 70 gallons of fuel. I’d like to cut that at least by 50%

          • Yep, prices are way down from even three years ago.

            I’m interested in some panels on a house that is hooked to the grid, with an LP fueled generator as backup for any time that the connection is down.

            I’m not as far into the woods as you must be ( $300,000 is a lot of money) but still i get dropped a lot especially in the winter if ice pulls down any lines. Because I am far out there,I am often way down the list to get reconnected.

            I had not planned on any storage since I plan to either use the grid at night or the generator. If I can get enough credit for generating excess power, I can cut my bill substantially.

            It’s great to see someone who is actually operating a system. 99% of the people who are so vocal about doing something have not actually made any efforts on their own.

            I have been watching it for years. It looks like prices are finally getting competitive for us who are already hooked up to the grid.

          • Grid-tied solar is now at grid parity in some US states. Certainly Hawaii, California and some NE states which have expensive electricity. If you don’t live in a state where the math makes sense right now, keep watching. Prices are almost certain to keep dropping.

            I noticed Costco is/was selling a dual fuel generator which could be run off either LP or gasoline. I’m going to look into one when my current gen wears out.

          • I’m in South Carolina. We are getting some reasonably low prices from our supplier now. I agree, the prices for solar keep dropping while the prices I pay are gradually increasing. Eventually it will work.

            I know a number of missionaries who were in Africa who used the refrigerator type that you are looking at. They had very good things to say about how well they performed.

          • By the way, I gather that you are not in the US. Where are you located?

          • Look further down section 4 2 …the gov. shall not issue a license to a private person unless power is not available from a public supplier.

          • A license for what? To set up their own solar system? I suppose it could be read that way, but I’m not an attorney.

            Isn’t the issue that the local grid costs too much? “…not readily available on reasonable terms.”

          • Reasonable on the islands appears to be 50 cents a kWh… Lol

Comments are closed.