Small-scale solar power industry holds its own as clouds gather

Solar panel capacity held up in 2014 despite headwinds.Solar panel capacity held up in 2014 despite headwinds. Photo: Glenn Hunt

Australia’s small-scale solar energy industry held steady in 2014 although uncertainty about the Abbott government’s support for renewable energy and rising costs for imported panels as the dollar wilts are casting a cloud over the sector.

The country added about 800 megawatts of solar photovoltaic (PV) capacity last year, slightly above the 795 megawatts installed in 2013, according to Ric Brazzale, managing director of Green Energy Trading.

The number of new systems fell almost 10 per cent to 182,000 from 200,000, with average units increasing in size as the share of commercial buyers rather than homes increases.

Running average installations by state.Running average installations by state. Photo: Green Energy Trading

“We have seen an increase in the number of larger commercial-sized PV systems (greater than 10 kilowatts) as businesses respond to rising power prices,” Mr Brazzale told Fairfax Media. “Commercial or ‘non household’ systems currently account for about 15 per cent of the market compared with less than 5 per cent back in 2012.”

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