The International Energy Agency expects Australia’s “excellent” economic fundamentals for residential and commercial rooftop solar to see the sector stabilize in 2023, after a new report revealed the solar market will shrink in 2022 as the country adds 4GW of installed solar capacity.
While Australia remains in the top 10 for both new PV installations and total market, the International Energy Agency’s (IEA) latest PVPS Program report shows there was a “pullback” last year, with early estimates pointing to nearly four. GW of solar installed, which is less than the 5 GW commissioned in 2021.
The state of the Australian solar market is detailed in the IEA’s PVPS Annual Report 2022, which reveals that Australia has a total of 29.7 GW of solar installed and at least 3.36 million rooftop solar systems.
The IEA said Australia remains in the top 10 for both new installations and the total market. Australia ranked 9th for annual installed capacity at 3.9 GW and 6th for cumulative capacity.
Australia also remains in the top 10 solar penetration countries, ranking 5th with 15.7% share, and 1st in the world for installed solar power per capita at 1,166 watts per person. Australia leads the Netherlands with 1,040 watts of installed solar power capacity per person and Germany with 807 watts per person.
While still showing strong volumes, the report notes that solar installations in Australia contracted slightly in 2022, down 1.1 GW from 5 GW installed in 2021.
The IEA attributed the contraction to supply chain issues and investment delays and said it expected these issues to resolve in 2023, suggesting Australia’s market landscape is paving the way for increased deployment of rooftop solar, particularly commercial solar.
“The economic fundamentals of residential and commercial solar are excellent,” the agency said. “Australia’s high electricity prices and low-cost solar systems mean payback can usually be achieved in 3-5 years.”
“Stable rooftop solar is expected by 2023 – with growth in commercial and industrial installations.”
The IEA’s upbeat outlook comes despite its latest report showing the average price of a residential solar system will rise to more than A$1.10 ($0.74) per watt in 2022 after subsidies, or an average of around A$1.55 per watt without subsidies. In 2021, the average cost of a residential system was less than AUD 1/W after subsidies, or about AUD 1.50/W without subsidies.
The report also reveals that the average system size in the sub-100kW market will continue to grow to more than 9kW per system in 2022. According to the IEA, the trend “reflects both the growth in commercial installations and the size of the typical residential building. systems as households prepare their homes for battery and for the future addition of electric vehicles.”
While the IEA is bullish on the rooftop solar sector, it said the residential storage market also remained strong, with more than 19,000 new batteries installed in small-scale solar PV systems in 2022, bringing the total number of batteries installed to more than 60,000 by the end. a year.
The IEA said overseas battery and inverter manufacturers continue to view Australia’s storage market “favorably” due to its high electricity prices, low feed-in tariffs, excellent solar resources and high use of residential solar.
The IEA said interest in large-scale solar energy is also strong. The agency said that while investors still have to deal with “regulatory challenges and transmission constraints,” 1.7 GW of new large-scale solar was added to systems in 2022.