Solar photovoltaic (PV) panels on the roofs of homes and businesses use energy from the sun to generate electricity cleanly and quietly. The conversion of sunlight into electricity takes place in cells of specially fabricated semiconductor crystals.

Solar doesn't generate electricity all the time, but it does generate electricity when it is needed most – during the day and during hot sunny periods when the demand for power (driven by air-conditioners) is at its peak.

Another bonus of small-scale solar is that it generates electricity at the point of demand (i.e. where people live and work). That means there is no need to transfer energy over long distances using expensive electrical infrastructure.

The Clean Energy Council and solar PV quality

As the peak body for renewable energy in Australia, the Clean Energy Council has an important role to play in ensuring the quality, safety and reliability of the country's solar PV industry.

As well as our solar policy and advocacy work, we administer a number of schemes designed to maximise product and service standards in the solar PV industry. These include:

  • Solar installer accreditation, which ensures installers and designers have the proper qualifications to install safe, reliable solar systems.
  • The Solar PV Retailer Code of Conduct, a voluntary scheme that allows businesses selling solar systems to demonstrate their commitment to industry best practice.
  • Approved product listings. We maintain a list of solar panels and inverters that meet Australian standards, the minimum requirement for solar products to be sold in Australia. Please note that there are also a range of independent module and inverter rating systems with higher quality and performance standards.

The Clean Energy Council also works closely with the organisations responsible for the safety and regulation of Australia's solar PV industry, including state electrical bodies, the Clean Energy Regulator and Standards Australia.

For more information visit the Solar Accreditation website.

Solar PV in Australia: 2015 in focus

Over a million Australian homes have had solar power systems installed

Almost 1.25 million Australian properties have solar power systems

Over 1.51 million small-scale solar power systems were installed across the country by the end of 2015.

In 2015, small-scale solar was responsible for 16.2 per cent of Australia's clean energy generation and produced 2.4 per cent of the country's total electricity.

The number of accredited solar installers in Australia also decreased slightly, to a total of 4140 at the end of 2015.

Top solar postcodes in each state (at end of 2015)

State Suburb Installations Capacity

Australian Capital Territory

Belconnen

1902 5540 kW

New South Wales

Dubbo

4571 12,135 kW

Northern Territory

Alice Springs

1299 6204 kW

Queensland

Bundaberg

9578 30,305 kW

South Australia

Morphett Vale, Woodcroft

4269 12,211 kW

Tasmania

Launceston

4138 14,870 kW

Victoria

Hoppers Crossing

5569 15,773 kW

Western Australia

Mandurah

8458 20,959 kW

The future of solar PV in Australia

Even without feed-in tariffs, a combination of rising electricity prices and the falling cost of solar PV systems means the business case for solar remains compelling. In its 2012 Australian Energy Technology Assessment, the Bureau of Resources and Energy Economics estimated that solar power would be among the cheapest of all energy sources by the end of the decade.

State feed-in tariff rates have continued to reduce, leading to lower but more stable and sustainable sales figures. Some consolidation of solar businesses in this environment is inevitable. The commercial solar sector continues to show steady growth, and as more major brands install solar this inspires smaller players to consider the technology as a cost-saving measure to improve their bottom line.

Australia is one of the sunniest continents in the world. Given a stable policy environment, there is massive potential for solar PV to make a significant contribution to electricity generation in Australia over the coming decades.

Sources:

  • SunWiz Consulting, 2014
  • Clean Energy Australia Report 2015