Solar installations go through the roof

A record number of solar panels were installed across Australia last year, delivering the equivalent energy output of a medium-sized coal-fired power station.

Figures from the Clean Energy Regulator show that 3.5 million solar panels were fixed to the rooftops of Australian homes and businesses in 2017 – an increase of 41% compared with the previous year.

The regulator also reported that there was a preference for larger capacity systems in 2017, as reducing costs made these more attractive. The average solar system capacity has doubled in the five years since 2012, from three to six kilowatts, it said.

The record 1,057 megawatts of capacity in small-scale systems installed across the country smashed the previous record set in 2012. It equated to 9,500 solar panels installed every day.

Clean Energy Regulator Executive General Manager, Mark Williamson, said the increasing interest in renewables is good news for reducing carbon emissions, as well as household bills.

“We are seeing a wide cross-section of Australians – households, community centres, schools and small businesses – receiving incentives under the Small-scale Renewable Energy Scheme,” he said.

“Our data shows consumers are embracing renewable energy to take control of their electricity bills.”

Mr Williamson added that the renewable energy industry is going “from strength to strength” and that 2018 looks set to be another record year.

Does solar power really pay off?

A recent Canstar Blue survey found that households spent an average of just over $6,000 on their solar systems, with 5KW the most popular size. Almost nine out of ten respondents (87%) said installing solar has proved a good financial decision.

However, only 53% of solar customers are happy with their current feed-in tariff, the survey found. This could be related to the fact that only one in five (21%) have switched electricity providers in the last two years.

Of those that have switched providers recently, the majority (60%) believe it has paid off in the form of cheaper bills, while 18% are not convinced the move was worth it. A further 22% said it was too early to tell.

Six out of ten solar customers surveyed (61%) said they aspire to be 100% off the grid in the future.

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