2016 Was A Record-Breaking Year For Solar In Australia

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Originally published on RenewEconomy.
By Warwick Johnston

At one point, 2016 looked like an abysmal year for Australian solar. But 2016 turned out to be record breaking year for solar, in many regards. You’ll get all the information you need here, but here are some of the highlights.

  • Though the headline utility-scale figures indicate a come-down of mammoth proportions, it was always going to be impossible to fill the gap left by Nyngan, Broken Hill, and Moree – heavily-subsided projects over five years in the making. However, if we exclude systems exceeding 20MW (Baracaldine being the only project last year above this threshold), there was actually significant growth. There was a record volume of systems in the 5-20MW range: Mugga Lane, Williamsdale, and Dugrussa (Sandfire), as well as growth in every other size category above 100kW.

  • Commercial systems in the 10-100kW range had a lacklustre start to the year, but finished strongly with a record 27MW of systems in the 10-100kW range installed in December alone – 32% of STC systems exceeded 10kW in the final month of the year. As a result the average system size climbed to a record high, finishing the year at 6.25kW/system (for sub-100kW systems). Greatest growth was seen in the 75-100kW range, and the image below shows a skyrocketing level of installations of 100kW systems in December 2016.

  • Electricity price rises are the talk of the town in states like WA and Queensland, and are again driving interest in solar power. As a result, residential PV underwent a bit of a renaissance, at least in WA where it drove the market 33% higher than 2015’s values, in the process setting a new record for annual installation volume (all without a feed-in tariff or STC multiplier reduction) – as seen below.

  • Australia became a hot spot for battery sales globally. International companies staged global launches of energy storage products in Australia. SunWiz’s Battery Market 2017 report shows that there over 5% of new PV systems included energy storage in 2016. Its fair to say 2016 exceeded the expectations of many in the industry, and set the stage for some stellar market growth in 2017. But it wasn’t all residential installations – the chart below shows there was a record 11MWh of major projects installed in 2016, with highlights including Sandfire Copper Mine, Nauiyu Aboriginal Community, Bunninyong, and Alkimos Beach Community systems.

  • All in all the year ended up on 839MW, comprising 87MW of identified LGC systems and a projected 752MW of sub-100kW systems.

The 2016 Year in Review provides data on the volume in each market segment of the top PV retailers and of the market as a whole. Find out more here

Reprinted with permission.

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