Solar Systems In Australia – Facts

Q. How many solar power systems have been installed in Australia?

At time of updating this page (October 2019), more than 2,194,000 small-scale solar electricity systems have been installed in Australia. That’s one in five homes; up from one in ten homes in 2013.

Q. How much solar power will those systems generate?

The 2,194,000 solar systems represent nearly 9.3GW of solar capacity.

 Q. 9.3GW means nothing to me, I’m not a solar geek or electrical engineer like you! Please explain…

9.3GW means 6 gigaWatts, which is 9,300,000 kW of solar capacity.

To put this in perspective: Australia has about 54GW of total electricity generating capacity (i.e. all the fossil fuelled power stations, hydro, solar, and wind). 

Q. So if there is 9.3GW of solar installed out of 54GW total generating capacity, that means solar generates 17% of Australia’s electricity demand?

Nope. Afraid not, because it only generates electricity when the sun shines, you have to divide the installed solar capacity by approximately 4 to compare it to a power station that runs 24/7. So although 9.3GW is 17% of 50GW, this actually means that solar panels generate 4% of Australia’s electricity needs.

Q. Oh that’s a bit depressing. Is solar a waste of time and effort then?

No – these three points should cheer you up:

1) More than 20% of homes have solar power – if everyone gets solar panels – then we start generating 10% of Australia’s electricity needs – just with rooftop PV!

2) It used to be the average system size was 2kW. Most people could fit 4kW-6kW on their roofs. So if everyone upgrades as panels become even cheaper, we could start to push even higher.

3) Solar power reduces peak demand, which means that many peaking power plants may not be needed any more. This will reduce the overall generating capacity and make solar an even bigger percentage.

Q. How many accredited solar installers are there in Australia?

At the time of writing: over 4,000.

Q. Who accredits the solar installers?

The Clean Energy Council (CEC).

Q. A solar installation company says they are CEC accredited? How can I find out if this is true?

It is not true! A company cannot be accredited – only the individual installers (i.e. the person) can be accredited. A company can only be a member of the Clean Energy Council, which simply involves paying the membership fees.

Learn more about the difference between Clean Energy Council accredited installers, approved retailers and members.

Q. What does it mean for an installer to be a CEC Accredited? 

  • The installer must be a licensed electrician
  • He/she must complete and pass their exams in solar installation and theory.
  • The installer must submit case studies on an ongoing basis to retain accreditation
  • They must have public liability insurance

Q. Does the person who designs my solar power system have to be accredited?

Yes – if you want your system to be eligible for STCs/rebates. Separate to solar installation accreditation, a person can be accredited to design solar systems. Your solar power system is unique to your house and should be designed by an accredited solar designer. This could be the same person as the installer or it could be a separate designer. Your system should have documentation that is signed off by that designer. 

Q. What if my system is not both designed and installed by a CEC accredited individual?

Then you cannot claim any government incentives and subsidies, and to be honest – you are risking a sub standard install, which when you’ve got up to 600V DC on the roof over your family is plain bloody stupid.

Q. These solar panels are CEC approved, so they must be good, right?

Previously, many people in the solar industry thought the CEC standards for panels were too easy to pass. Trust me, there have been some shocking panels that managed to get CEC approved. However, the CEC has been tightening its guidelines in recent years. It still pays to read third-party reviews and test results,.

Q. This inverter is CEC approved, so it must be good, right?

The answer above regarding solar panels also applies in the case of inverters.

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