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: 2017 in focus

Over a million Australian homes have had solar power systems installed

More than 1.64 million Australian properties have solar power systems

In 2017, small-scale solar was responsible for 20.3 per cent of Australia's clean energy generation and produced 3.4 per cent of the country's total electricity.

More than 1.1 GW of new solar capacity was installed in 2017, which was an Australian record for a calendar year. More than 1.8 million small-scale solar power systems had been installed across the country by the end of 2017.

There were 4912 accredited solar installers at the end of 2017, which represented an increase of more than 600 compared to 2016.

Top solar postcodes in each state (at end of 2017)

State Suburb Installations Capacity

Australian Capital Territory

Macgregor

2178 7005 kW

New South Wales

Dubbo

5336 16,668 kW

Northern Territory

Alice Springs

1672 8596 kW

Queensland

Bundaberg

11,060 38,975 kW

South Australia

Morphett Vale

4680 14,385 kW

Tasmania

Launceston

4872 18,760 kW

Victoria

Cranbourne

6676 21,355 kW

Western Australia

Mandurah

10,303 30,013 kW

The future of solar PV in Australia

2017 was a record year for rooftop solar. The average system size continued to grow as more commercial-sized systems were installed for small and medium-sized businesses. While this meant fewer systems installed overall, the total capacity installed (more than 1.1 GW) was an Australian record for a calendar year.

In the medium-scale sector, installations of between 100 kW and 5 MW increased significantly in 2017, with 131 medium-scale solar projects commissioned adding 53 MW of new capacity. There is now 167 MW of cumulative capacity in the medium-scale sector, representing an increase of more than 500 per cent over the past five years.

The rapid growth has been driven by a significant rise in electricity prices, which has forced an increasing number of businesses to look to solar power to offset their rising costs.

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 2018