Australia's solar landmark

It's official – Australia has now surpassed 1,000,000 solar rooftops on the back of some remarkable growth rates. It's now time for the Coalition to be more aggressive in its direct action targets.

Australian solar is celebrating a major milestone, with one million households now equipped with solar PV systems.

By the end of 2008 we had less than 20,000 systems installed, illustrating the rapid proliferation of solar across the country. Since then the number of systems installed by year has surged ahead, with 63,378 installations in 2009, 196,308 in 2010, 335,067 in 2011 and 322,447 last year.

The most remarkable growth story has been in Queensland (see: table below), where installation numbers have been 348 in 2007, 2,867 in 2008, 18,377 in 2009, 48,301 in 2010, 90,477 in 2011 and 119,395 last year.

All up the countrywide installed capacity stands at 2.452 GW, from 1,011,478 systems, according to data from the Clean Energy Regulator.

Graph for Australia's solar landmark

Source: Sunwiz

The top ten postcodes from each state paint an interesting tale, telling of the greatest interest coming from the mortgage belt. Indeed, the top ten lists dispel the myth that solar is for the rich – a myth we have previously dispelled on Climate Spectator (here and here). Instead, the middle and lower socio-economic groups are chasing solar as they look to shield themselves from increasing power pain.

Coalition policy

The significance of one million solar rooftops should not be lost in terms of what it means for climate and energy policy, specifically the Coalition’s Direct Action policy. Officially, the current document (written in 2010) says the Coalition would invest $100 million a year “for an additional one million solar energy homes by 2020.” Had they assumed office in 2010, they would be on track to achieve that commitment sometime in the next 12 months – about six years ahead of schedule.

Back in August last year, Opposition leader Tony Abbott confirmed a solar rooftops scheme was still in this party’s plan should they win power in 2013.

"Obviously there is a time that has elapsed since the direct action policy was first announced," he told reporters.

"But yes, we think it would be a very good thing if we could get one million solar roofs by 2020.

"Believe you me, the construction pace we need to achieve that is not nearly as great as the construction pace the government needs to achieve its NBN (national broadband network) targets."

Indeed, the construction pace required is just above glacial – based on current installation rates, we’ll be there around 2017.

Perhaps it’s time to raise the bar.

Top 10 post codes in Australia (ranked by number of installed solar PV systems), current as of March 10 2013

Graph for Australia's solar landmark

Top 10 post codes in NSW (ranked by number of installed solar PV systems), current as of March 10 2013

Graph for Australia's solar landmark

Top 10 post codes in Queensland (ranked by number of installed solar PV systems), current as of March 10 2013

Graph for Australia's solar landmark

Top 10 post codes in Victoria (ranked by number of installed solar PV systems), current as of March 10 2013

Graph for Australia's solar landmark

Top 10 post codes in South Australia (ranked by number of installed solar PV systems), current as of March 10 2013

Graph for Australia's solar landmark