Australians are quietly getting on with the job of reducing their carbon footprints by installing record numbers of rooftop solar panels.
The highest ever number of rooftop solar photovoltaic (PV) panels were installed in 2020, according to Clean Energy Regulator data analysed by the peak national science agency, CSIRO.
The data showed that in 2020 more than 362,000 rooftop solar PV installations were issued nation-wide with small-scale renewable energy scheme certificates (STCs) under the Small-scale Renewable Energy Scheme.
This is an increase of 28 per cent from 2019 when 283,991 installations were issued STCs with most of them installed on houses
CSIRO chief executive Dr Larry Marshall said the analysis revealed a keen appetite for science-led innovation among Australians.
"CSIRO has analysed and projected energy futures for more than two decades, and over that time we have accurately forecast and tracked the reduction in cost of renewables and the development of battery storage options including our own UltraBattery," Dr Marshall said.
"Science has made renewables cost competitive with conventional power, letting market forces take over to drive a global transition to lower emissions.
"Australia's solar advantage creates an economic opportunity for us on the world stage and an environmental benefit for the globe."
CSIRO researchers use the Clean Energy Regulator data as the best indicator of PV installations across Australia and is one of five sources of data collated by CSIRO's Australian Housing Data Portal.
Senior CSIRO experimental scientist Michael Ambrose said the data showed how quickly PV systems were being taken up across Australia.
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The states with the highest number of solar PV systems installed in 2020 were NSW (with 108,922), Queensland (86,912), Victoria (71,798), Western Australia (47,653) and South Australia (35,599).
Individual postcodes leading the charge in 2020 were:
- 3064 (Victorian suburbs of Craigieburn, Donnybrook, Mickleham and Roxburgh Park) with 2484 systems
- 3029 (Victorian suburbs of Hoppers Crossing, Tarneit, Truganina) with 2435
- 3977 (Victorian suburbs of Cranbourne, Sandhurst and Skye) with 2036
- 2765 (NSW suburbs of Marsden Park, Berkshire Park, Vineyard, Box Hill) with 1841
- 6112 (WA suburbs of Armadale, Forrestdale, Bedfordale) with 1778.
Australia has the highest uptake of solar globally.
Clean Energy Regulator data reveals that more than 2.68 million rooftop solar power systems have been installed in Australia in total as of December 31 2020.
One in four Australian homes now have solar panels on their roof.
"Australia is one of the sunniest places on the planet. We lead the world in PV capacity on a per capita basis at 591 watts per person which is almost eight times the worldwide average," Mr Ambrose said.
The Clean Energy Regulator's executive general manager Mark Williamson said that three gigawatts (GW) of rooftop solar PV capacity was installed nationally in 2020, a 40pc increase on the 2.2 GW installed in 2019.
He said this was trending higher in 2021 with an expected 3.5 to 4GW of capacity.
The growth in capacity has been driven by increasing system size with the average system now between 8 and 8.5 kilowatts.
"Sustained low technology costs, increased work from home arrangements and a shift in household spending to home improvements during COVID-19 played a key role in the increase of rooftop solar PV systems under the SRES," Mr Williamson said.