Solar panel installations 'skyrocket' in Australia
Apr 19, 2017
<h5>There has been a big surge in the number of households installing solar panels, with March installations reaching their highest level in almost five years.<br/></h5>
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<p><b>Key points:</b><br/></p><ul><li>Solar panels were installed on about 15,000 homes and businesses in March 2017</li><li>Installations have hit their highest level in almost five years</li><li>Experts say rising electricity bills and recent blackouts in SA are turning people to solar</li></ul><p><br/></p><p></p><p>Warwick Johnston from energy consultancy firm Sunwiz crunched the numbers and said 91 megawatts of solar photovoltaic (PV) systems were installed during the month.</p><p><br/></p><p>"March has been a very impressive month for 2017," he said.</p><p><br/></p><p>"We already saw a surge starting to build up in 2016, and we were wondering if that was going to continue into 2017 and it really has just continued to skyrocket."</p><p><br/></p><p>Queensland led the way, installing 25 megawatts of capacity, which is enough to power about 5,500 homes and businesses.</p><p><br/></p><p>Installations were also up in South Australia, New South Wales and Victoria.</p><p><br/></p><p>Mr Johnston said the recent<span> </span><a href="http://mobile.abc.net.au/news/2016-09-28/sa-weather-south-australia-without-power-as-storm-hits/7885930" target="_self" title="">blackouts in South Australia</a><span> </span>were a factor in the rising demand.</p><p><br/></p><p></p><p><b>"People are certainly aware of the benefits of solar power and storage to offset or protect against grid blackouts, and that has been a driving factor in the uptake of solar," he said.</b></p><p><br/></p><p></p><p>"We're seeing the uptake occur in states which weren't affected by those blackouts as well, so it really is people being aware that solar panels are a great way to beat rising electricity bills."</p><p><br/></p><p>Installation figures in Tasmania, the Northern Territory and the ACT were flat.</p><p><br/></p><p>Warwick and Lola Neilley recently installed a four-kilowatt system on the roof of their home in Melbourne's northern suburbs.</p><p><br/>
<br/></p><p>"We are paying basically $2 dollars per month in electricity," Lola Neilley said.</p><p></p><p><br/></p><p><b>"It's an incredible saving, and [there is] the peace of mind that we are not at the mercy of the commercial interest of the privatised distribution of electricity."</b></p><p><br/></p><p></p><p>Mrs Neilley said a lot of people in her neighbourhood had installed solar panels.</p><p><br/></p><p>"The council have what they called the 'nonna effect' where one grandmother installs the solar panels and tells the others," she said.</p><p><br/></p><p>Sarah McNamara from the Australian Energy Council said it was not surprising consumers wanted more control over their power bills.</p><p><br/></p><p>But she said it added a layer of complexity to the energy market.</p><p><br/></p><p>"It gives retailers opportunities to provide attractive options for their solar PV customers in terms of the feed-in tariffs they're offering and perhaps other services as part of a retail package," she said.</p><p><br/></p><p>"For the national energy market (NEM) it means there is more intermittent generation in the market.</p><p><br/></p><p>"It's a good thing that there's more generation but a challenge for the NEM, because when the sun isn't shining in the area you live in then you are not able to generate electricity for your own home or to put back into the electricity market."</p><p><br/></p><p>She said batteries were potentially an important part of the solution going forward.</p><p><br/></p><p></p><p><b>"The difficulty at the moment is that batteries are still extremely expensive, around $10,000 for your average domestic-sized battery unit," she said.</b></p><p><b><br/></b></p><p></p><p>"Overall, what we would say is what we need is good policy settings that are bipartisan at a federal and a state level, because then investors might consider investing in firm generation."</p><p><br/></p><h5>Thank you to our friends at <i>ABC News</i> for providing the original article below:</h5>
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