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: 2016 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 2016, small-scale solar was responsible for 16.0 per cent of Australia's clean energy generation and produced 2.8 per cent of the country's total electricity.

752 MW of new solar capacity was installed in 2016, an increase of 7 per cent compared to 2015. More than 1.64 million small-scale solar power systems were installed across the country by the end of 2016.

There were 4305 accredited solar installers at the end of 2016, a modest increase of just over 160 compared to 2015.

Top solar postcodes in each state (at end of 2016)

State Suburb Installations Capacity

Australian Capital Territory

Belconnen

2153 6365 kW

New South Wales

Lismore region

4951 14,492 kW

Northern Territory

Alice Springs

1543 7408 kW

Queensland

Bundaberg

10,528 33,728 kW

South Australia

Morphett Vale, Woodcroft

4709 13,391 kW

Tasmania

Launceston

4708 16,773 kW

Victoria

Hoppers Crossing

6137 18,364 kW

Western Australia

Mandurah

10,003 25,418 kW

The future of solar PV in Australia

Household and commercial solar growth continued steadily, with many solar businesses now targeting the 30-100 kW section of the market. With power prices rising and the cost of solar technology continuing to fall, the business case strengthens each year.

The fastest-growing sector of the solar market is commercial systems between 75-100 kW, which helped to push up the average size of solar power systems to 5.56 kW at the end of 2016. Commercial systems between 30-100 kW are particularly popular in the ACT, New South Wales, South Australia and the Northern Territory, where they make up about 30 per cent of sales.

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 2016